OUTER BANKS, North Carolina (WTVD) -- It's a nightmare for thousands of families who were supposed to be on vacation this week at the Outer Banks. The mandatory evacuation of all visitors to Hatteras and Ocracoke islands is causing many vacation plans to be canceled.
Vacationers are out hundreds and even thousands of dollars for homes that they rented and can't access.
Rene and Ty Roach are from Maryland and have been planning their big getaway to Hatteras for months.
Family from as far away as Texas were making the trip to celebrate Rene, who last year was diagnosed with stage 4 colorectal cancer, but after treatment had no evidence of the disease in her body.
"This was special as my whole family was going to be there, and it was a celebration of life possibly a hopeful future with my family," Rene said.
They rented a home through Surf or Sound Realty and says Ty says they paid more than $8,000 for their rental home in Hatteras Village. When they tried to check in Saturday, Rene says the rental company told her, "Sorry you just lost your money."
The Roaches did not have insurance on their vacation rental, but Rene said she thinks that shouldn't matter: "You promised a house and you need to deliver that or refund the money."
The same frustrations happened for Trent Bryden and his extended family. They were enjoying their vacation rental in Salvo that cost more than $16,000 for the week.
"It was in memory of my grandfather," Trent said. "He always loved family, so my mother wanted to spend that money to get my brothers and I together."
Thursday morning, the power went out. Trent said the majority of their food in their refrigerator and freezer were lost.
No AC also made it tough to enjoy their vacation, Trent added,
"At night in a big house like that, it just became a heat box," he said.
Trent said they all had to check out early of their vacation rental because of the power outage and mandatory evacuation. He did purchase the insurance through the rental company, Surf or Sound Realty, but Trent said when he checked out early, he was told he might be out of luck as the insurance doesn't cover man-made disasters.
Trent said he wants answers.
"Someone who is a company is taking money from customers and not providing them with the products that the money was exchanged for," he said.
RECOURSE FOR VACATIONERS
Many of the vacationers I heard from bought insurance through AIG. A rep with AIG said, "AIG stands ready to help our customers and is closely monitoring the situation. We will consider all claims related to the power outage."
North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein's office said it is accepting complaints and will be monitoring closely to ensure that all involved comply with their legal obligations.
A rep said anyone who is concerned about their situation should contact the North Carolina Department of Justice and Consumers also should review their individual lease and insurance agreements and be prepared to share those with the Department of Justice as well to ensure a thorough investigation.
I did reach out to Surf or Sound Realty for comment but have not yet heard back from the company.
The best advice if you did buy insurance is to file a claim.
If you paid by credit card, dispute it.
If you did not buy insurance, an attorney I talked with said the renter could still file court action depending on what the rental agreement states. He stressed that under North Carolina law, the landlord must provide your rental in a habitable condition.