Sandy's been good for business for Western Pennsylvania cleanup companies
By Bill Vidonic
Published: Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012, 11:59 p.m.
Hurricane Sandy has become a boon for local disaster restoration companies.
Companies in Western Pennsylvania said they've received dozens of calls looking for cleanup help, for everything from unexpected roof leaks to trees damaging houses.
For the Rev. Walter Dworak, pastor of St. Philip Roman Catholic Church Parish in Crafton, it's the fourth or fifth time in the past couple years that crews have cleaned up a water leak in the church's nearly 100-year-old school. Heavy and steady rain that has fallen since Monday night snaked its way into the building.
“It's coming from the roof,” Dworak said shortly before crews from FireDEX Pittsburgh, a disaster restoration crew in Hampton, placed fans in the building to dry out walls. “It could also be leaks in the mortar, or the caulking. We haven't diagnosed the real problem. We've had roofing crews here and insurance companies.”
Claude Odom, operations manager for Servicemaster of Greater Pittsburgh in Oakmont, said he's had 15 to 20 calls so far. “What we've seen is fairly minor, numerous but minor. It's higher than we would see after thunderstorms, but it was what we were expecting.”
It's not just old buildings like the Crafton school that are being affected, said Jim Fanning, general manager of FireDEX.
“We've seen a mix. Commercial buildings, brand new buildings, homes. It hasn't stopped raining, and that allows water to pond on roofs. Normal rains last an hour or two or they evaporate. This has been a wind-driven rain. When you're looking at a roof as to why it's leaking, sometimes there's no evidence as to why,” Fanning said.
Other companies said they've been finding the same problems. Customers who have never had problems before are suddenly finding water-soaked carpeting, stained ceilings and walls and streams of water in basements from the force of wind driving rain.
Some restoration companies have been subcontracting work to area roofing companies to repair damage as well, finding loose shingles or holes in roofs caused by fallen branches.
There are more than 20,000 disaster restoration companies across the United States, from “larger chains down to little mom-and-pop shops with a mop and a bucket,” said Patricia L. Harman, spokesman for the Restoration Industry Association in Rockville, Md.
Not all insurance policies cover storm damage, according to insurance experts. Some companies require separate flood insurance, and have to determine whether damage is wind- or flood-related.
Gov. Tom Corbett on Thursday said homeowners in the state won't have to pay deductibles on claims stemming from damage caused by the hurricane. Insurance companies have instructed their claims adjusters that hurricane deductibles should not be applied to claims, he said.
Joella Black, whose family has owned Total Restoration Services in Greensburg for more than 30 years, expects to receive more calls during the next couple of days, as homeowners do most of the cleanup work themselves to save some money.
After homeowners have ripped up carpeting or cut away drywall, Black said, they'll call her company to spray for mold or mildew.
“People don't call you right away,” Black said. “They're just devastated by everything. By the time they're seeing what they want to do and get a hold of their insurance company, they decide whether they want to take care of it themselves.”
She said her family company has been busy with nearly two dozen jobs throughout Westmoreland, Indiana and Fayette counties.
Odom said his company has also sent crews to help out in New Jersey, and they're working on a flooded PNC Bank branch outside of Ocean City. He said the local branch of the restoration company often sends crews to help out with areas harder hit than the Pittsburgh region, including last year's Tropical Storm Lee in Harrisburg for 6-8 weeks.
Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins’ Orpik taken off ice on stretcher in loss to Bruins
- Steelers still have something worth playing for
- Ex-Pirates great Parker’s long wait for Hall of Fame could finally end
- Breaking down the Pirates’ needs entering winter meetings
- Rossi: Penguins’ Orpik among select NHLers going without gluten
- Controversial Rooney Rule has opened door for NFL minority coaching candidates
- Robinson: Video review reveals Steelers coach’s sideline movements in Baltimore were out of character
- Steelers notebook: TE Spaeth activated for stretch run
- Investors put squeeze on prospective homeowners’ American dreams
- Rampant misuse of antibiotics poses growing global threat, experts warn
- Police say fellow cop arrested for drunk driving after coming to work intoxicated