Recent Storm Damage Posts
“Storm” in West Michigan
When the restoration industry thinks "Storm", it usually means tropical storms or hurricanes in the Gulf or the Southeast. When these major events happen, SERVPRO’s from all over the country pack up and head to the impacted area to help make it "Like it never even happened”. This is one of the advantages of being the world's largest disaster restoration company. No matter how large the event, SERVPRO can cover it.
Luckily Michigan does not usually get these life threatening and expensive storms.
In Michigan, “Storm” means tornadoes, straight line winds, and/or micro bursts of rain. Last summer Manistee and Mason counties were hit with over 12 inches of rain in one 24 hour period---a new state record. While it is nice to hold a state record, it wasn't nearly that much fun when you watched your basement or cabin fill with water. Our shop in Manistee received over 100 calls for help per day over the last weekend of July.
With 3 truck mounted extractors and multiple crews we were able to help many of the residents. However, we soon realized that we would not be able to help all the customers in a timely manner. We reached for the phone and called our sister franchises in Traverse City, Mount Pleasant/Clare, Big Rapids, Muskegon, and Grand Rapids. Most immediately sent trucks and crews and by Sunday morning there were multiple green trucks helping people in every affected city in our territory. These crews stayed throughout the week until all our customers were taken of and had their homes back.
Another storm event that recently hit our coverage area was the tornado that hit Mason and Lake Counties. This EF2 tornado and the associated straight line winds centered in Baldwin, toppled thousands of trees and destroyed countless roofs. While SERVPRO does not do roof repairs or tree removal from roofs, we do have a long list of professionals who can help. When the calls started coming in, we were able to bypass the normal waiting lists and get people in contact with crews who could quickly get the trees off the roofs and driveways opened.
Once the trees are off the roofs, SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac can get the roofs tarped and windows boarded up and start the drying process. Unfortunately, lack of power is usually an issue and can delay drying. If the home sustains structural damage from the wind or trees, sometimes we will need to pack out the contents to one of our climate controlled storage units while repairs are made. These repairs and content removal and storage are almost always covered by normal homeowners insurance. While “Storm” events are never fun, SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac can help you get your home back to "Like it never even happened".
Another 100 Year Flood in Western Michigan
SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac and our sister franchises from Clare, Muskegon, Traverse City, and Big Rapids helped over 100 homes who suffered water damage from the late July storm that hit western Michigan. Hardest hit was Manistee, Ludington, Scottville, Free Soil, Fountain, Wellston, Irons, Baldwin, Wolf Lake, Custer, Dublin, Bear Lake, and Onekama who recently received over a foot of rain in one day. As rivers overflowed and city storm sewers were overwhelmed, our customers saw the water rise in their basements and crawlspaces.
They call this a 100 year flood. But what does that mean? A 100 year rain does not mean you can expect to get a rain of that size every one hundred years. It actually means that in any given year, you have a 1% chance of getting a foot of rain from one storm. A 50 year storm has a 2% chance and a 25 year storm has a 4% chance in any given year.
You can go to the FEMA FLood Map Service Center https://msc.fema.gov/portal/home and check out the probability of your home getting flooded (if your area was mapped and most are). The higher the risk of flooding, the more you should consider buying flood insurance from FEMA. As most of West Michigan knows by now, your home policy probably will not cover a water event coming from outside the structure. Sometimes limited coverage ($2,000-5,000) can be purchased through your homeowner’s policy as a sump pump or sewage back up failure rider, but most home policies specifically exclude groundwater or water coming from outside the home.
You can also check to see if your community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Remember there is usually a 30-day waiting for this type of insurance to kick in so don’t wait until your phone announces a flood warning to call your insurance company. You should also talk to your local insurance agent. They are the experts and know what is available in your area. Many of them sell enhanced policies that cover some types of water intrusion (hydro-static intrusion, sump pump failure, or septic backups). They can also help walk you through the steps to get on a federal program to give you some protection from the 100 year rains that seem to be coming much more frequently.
FEMA’s statistics show that over 20 percent of flood insurance claims are for non-high risk zones. Whether climate change is temporary or permanent doesn’t really matter to your wet basement. Large storms and weather events are clearly happening more frequently and you need to be prepared. Some of the things you can do will help with even normal rainfall amounts. Install and maintain roof gutters with downspouts to get the water at least 6 feet away from your foundation. Consider landscaping to drain the water away from your home. Clean out ditches and culverts on your property or call the local road commissions for help. Work with your neighbors on larger projects (their basement is probably wet also).
Because flood insurance from the NFIP program usually has limited or no coverage for below ground areas (basements and crawlspaces) and the contents stored in them be careful what you store down there. Now may be the time to get rid of the college furniture your son has stored in your basement and get some plastic totes for the craft supplies that are in cardboard boxes on the floor. If you haven’t used that exercise bike in 10 years you may want to find someone who would it to take up space in his basement.
Other items not typically covered are paper documents and money or valuables stored in the basement. Outdoor decks, patios, fences, hot tubs and pools, outdoor furniture, and wells and septic systems are typically excluded. Usually this insurance will not cover temporary housing or living expenses. You may have coverage for some of these items (and possibly large appliances like washer and dryer or furnace) through your home insurance under a personal contents cover.
Your friends at SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac hope you never have to use our water damage and restoration services but knowing your options before the loss should make dealing with the event easier. Please call your local insurance agent for more details if you have questions as every area is different. If you do get hit with a 100 year flood, call the professionals at SERVPRO and we will do our best to make it "Like it never even happened.”
Baby It's Cold Outside
With the below zero temperatures and wind chills these past weekends, SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington, and Cadillac has received multiple calls for frozen and burst water pipes. As you know, it is easier to prevent these things than to fix them so here are a few tips from your friends at SERVPRO.
Pay attention to the wind direction. A cold north wind will drive the cold through the north facing walls of your home much faster than the same temperatures with no wind. If you have pipes in the walls facing the wind direction pay close attention to them. Consider opening the base cabinet’s doors to allow warmer room air to reach your pipes. Inspect the insulation or heat wraps carefully for openings or damage in areas prone to freezing.
Running a small stream of water can also help prevent freezing particularly if you are on city sewer lines. You must be very careful running water if you have a septic tank however. You cannot run more water into a septic tank than can drain away through the drain field without it backing up and causing major problems. Add no snow cover, which means frozen ground, and the potential for backups becomes much greater. Running water for a few hours a day or a small stream will probably not cause any issues, but a large stream for a long time can cause problems.
Do you have a well pit outside? Many older homes still do and with the lack of snow cover to insulate the pits, they can freeze. Consider some dry straw covered with a tarp (wet stray has no insulation properties). A simple light bulb will often provide enough heat to solve the freezing problems. Hint: check the light regularly to insure it is still functioning. Remember to remove the hose from the frost free hose bib on your home to allow it to drain and prevent it from freezing and flooding your basement.
Some of the old school energy hints are very effective on helping keep your home warm and saving money. Clear plastic on the windows will prevent drafts and keep the room much warmer. If you have curtains and window dressing, keep them closed when it is really cold outside and the sun is not shining. (Think Michigan in winter) Close off unused rooms especially if there are no water lines in the room. Seal drafts with caulk, rugs, or weather stripping.
If you do have a frozen pipe, thaw it with a hair drier or some non-combustible heat source. Many fires are started every year with homeowners trying to thaw pipes with space heaters, torches, or other improper heat sources. If you must leave the home with frozen pipes remember to shut off the water supply in case the line thaws or bursts flooding the home. These really can be “do it yourself” fixes but be careful that you don’t cause larger problems.
Flooding is one of the most common and widespread natural disasters in America. Fema has reported that in the last 5 years, every state in the United States has experienced floods or flash flooding. 20% of all flood insurance claims come from a low to moderate risk area.
According to the American Red Cross, flooding causes more damage in the United States than any other natural disaster that is weather related. On average, a home that has 1 inch of flood damage can cost about $27,000.
In the event that a flood strikes your home or business, SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington and Cadillac is here to help. With 24 hour 7 day a week service, we will have you back in your home or business in no time.
Using a generator safely following Michigan storms
Yesterday's paper read, "Two Die At Home Running Generator During Power Outage." In this case, an elderly couple died after setting the generator in an enclosed garage because of the power outage. Their death was entirely preventable. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission requires manufactures of portable generators to have a label that states "DANGER! Using a generator indoors CAN KILL YOU IN MINUTES."
* Never use generators indoors.
*Never set generator outdoors near a window, door or vent.
* Never use generators in crawlspaces or under awnings.
* To prevent shock and electrocution, never use a generator in wet conditions.
* Make sure you have working CO (Carbon Monoxide) detectors and alarms in your home.
Opening doors and windows will not prevent carbon monoxide buildup, although, you cannot see or smell carbon monoxide. Symptoms include feeling sick, dizzy or weak. If you hear a generator running in your neighborhood, please check to see if it is being operated properly. If you suspect CO poisoning, do not open the building. Call 911 or your local fire department immediately for professional assistance. Carbon Monoxide deaths are easily preventable and SERVPRO of Manistee, Ludington and Cadillac, encourages you to use generators safely and watch out for your neighbors and friends!