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Onion Creek golf club sues insurance company over flood-damaged property

By Julie Chang, Austin American-Statesman
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

April 24--Almost six months after the historic flooding in Southeast Austin, owners of the Onion Creek Club say their insurance company has not paid for about a dozen covered items that were damaged during the disaster, according to a lawsuit.

The River Place Golf Group, which owns several golf clubs and courses in the Austin area, filed the lawsuit Tuesday in Travis County District Court, alleging that Greenwich Insurance Company has either denied or questioned its claims. The group said in the suit that property damaged during the the "rain, winds and floods" on Oct. 13 and on Halloween included fencing, bridges and cart paths, an underground sprinkler system, the drainage system, tools and other equipment. Since some of their buildings were in a floodplain, they also have to rebuild them in a new location that complies with city code, the document says.

The lawsuit also says that Greenwich has sent checks to the group for some of its claims after the floods, but those checks were returned for insufficient funds.

"This lawsuit represents the extraordinary effort that the Onion Creek Golf Club has had to go to collect the amounts due and owing from its insurance provider," the group's chief executive officer, Steve Held, said in a statement.

The group said it submitted claims in a timely manner.

The group is asking for more than $1 million in relief, which includes attorneys' fees and 18 percent interest on what it says Greenwich owes from both flooding events until a judgment is reached.

Calls and an email to Greenwich Insurance Company were not returned Wednesday.

On Oct. 31, Onion Creek crested at 40 feet, the highest level ever recorded. The disaster killed at least three people and caused more than $100 million in estimated damage across Travis County.

"In the days and weeks following the October wind, rain and flood storms, the club was a refuge for some in the Onion Creek community," Held said in the statement. "The club is committed to rebuilding and continuing to serve the needs of its members and the surrounding community."

The Halloween flood caused $7 million in damage to the club, inundating the barn that stored all of the golf course's lawn mowers and other maintenance equipment, club general manager Justin Jafarian has said.

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After the flood, the course reopened around Christmas with 18 of its 27 holes. The other nine holes are undergoing renovations and will not reopen until July. The rest of the holes will close in nine-hole phases after that until October for renovations.

The club, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, was founded by Masters champion Jimmy Demaret and Texas amateur golf legend Jimmy Connolly and was the first to host the Legends of Golf tournament in 1978.


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