Owners Off The Hook For SNF Tornado Cleanup

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Owners whose aircraft were damaged in last year's Sun 'n Fun tornado will not be stuck with any of the cleanup costs after all. In a statement, Sun 'n Fun President Lites Leenhouts said the organization has paid all outstanding invoices and will not be billing individuals for the costs. Last October Sun 'n Fun asked the 30 aircraft owners affected to submit their share of about $90,000 in towing and cleanup costs to their own insurers after Sun 'n Fun's underwriter decided it was not responsible for those costs. Leenhouts said about 40 percent of the money was recovered that way and Sun 'n Fun paid the rest. "Sun 'n Fun has paid this remaining balance in good faith on behalf of those who chose not to submit the bill to their insurance company or who did not carry insurance," Leenhouts said. "At no time has Sun 'n Fun requested that the aircraft owner[s] pay their bill[s] directly.

The request caused controversy and some aircraft owners objected, saying the decision to immediately remove aircraft before adjusters for the companies representing the owners could make arrangements was a business decision by Sun 'n Fun to ensure the show could resume the next day. Leenhouts said the immediate cleanup was necessary for safety reasons. He said the payments will cut into funding for aviation education programs that are the main benefactor of SNF profits each year. "While we deeply regret the devastation that occurred as a result of a storm we could not control, to pay for the entire bill would have caused undue hardship for our non-profit organization," Leenhouts said. "We are grateful to those individuals who carried an appropriate amount of insurance as well as those that paid from their own resources and to those who rallied together on the day of the storm to assist in restoring the site to a clean and safe environment for all to enjoy the following day."