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Monday, August 11, 1997

Sandy and Philip Doukas never imagined that three little skunks could do so much damage.

But ever since the suburban Naperville couple noticed a few small animal burrows under their front step, they've had nothing but trouble.

Since the skunk family moved in at the end of June, they've done an estimated $50,000 in damage to the Doukases' house, forced the family to stay in an apartment for six weeks, and have involved the couple in a foul-smelling battle with their insurance company.

It will probably cost $25,000 to repair and clean the home, the family says. They had to throw out clothes, furniture, drapes, food and toys. Carpeting was torn out, and walls and ceilings had to be sealed and repainted to get rid of the stench.

Another $25,000 will go toward replacing ruined belongings, Sandy Doukas said.

"It's been a nightmare," she said. "I had no idea of the damage they could cause. There was nothing in the house that was untouched."

The skunk musk, carried efficiently through the home by central air conditioning, has permeated nearly every one of the family's belongings.

The Doukases said their insurance company refused to pay for any of the damage, but when challenged, the Farmers Insurance Group told the family last week that it plans to pay at least for the cost of repairing and cleaning the home.


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