In mid-February 2021, Prism Specialties of Greater Wisconsin and Western U.P. received a water pipe break claim at a high-end waterfront home that sits just 40 feet off Lake Superior on Madeline Island, Wis. The first decision to be made would be made by the weather: Ice road or ferry? Would the temperature stay low enough to ensure safety on the ice road? Or would the temperatures be warm enough to ensure ferry transportation would not be hampered by ice masses? 

The Complex Commute 

At the time of the initial notification, the ice roads needed to commute to the island were closed due to the seasonal thaw. During the same period, boat harbors on the island and mainland had stopped ferry operation due to ice in the open water. Additionally, Ashland County, Wis., had weight limits in place for all county roads in and around Bayfield, Wis. (the mainland harbor location) and Madeline Island (the destination). 

property restoration in remote areas
Photo Credit: Prism Specialties

After some careful planning with the authorities, ferry transport was determined to be the best option. However, we would need to wait about one month for the ice to clear in the lake and ferry service to resume. All great plans have a little luck, and this project was no exception. At the same time, Ashland County lifted the weight restrictions on their county roads making our travel logistics fall in place. We scheduled the pack-out for March 23. But there was plenty of planning still to be done prior to the trip as we were constrained by ferry service schedules and shorter daylight hours.  

property restoration in remote areas
Photo Credit: Prism Specialties

Making It Cost-Effective 

The initial loss given to us by the adjuster was focused on a commercial-grade Viking kitchen stove and a high-end LG refrigerator. Although the cost of replacement was high — cost of appliances, shipping and installation — it was not enough to justify the restoration due to the complexities and cost of travel. Our travel time of 4.5 hours and limited ferry schedules were just two of the key drivers of our cost of restoration. Working closely with the adjuster, we revisited the scope of the restoration portion of the loss. At Prism, we have experts in textiles, art, documents and electronics.  This gave us the flexibility to combine other restoration needs into one claim. 

property restoration in remote areas
Photo Credit: Prism Specialties

Our expertise in art restoration encompasses paintings, portraits, taxidermy, sculptures, as well as photos and other keepsakes. With textile restorations, our experts can restore drapery, linens, towels, rugs and even clothing and shoes. With these added restoration projects under one company’s services, the restoration company and adjuster determined this complete restoration project was now cost-effective. 

The project was completed in one trip with one crew, making it very cost-effective for the adjuster and returning the homeowner to their pre-loss condition in the shortest amount of time with the least cost. Most importantly, their valuable and sentimental items were saved. 

Lessons Learned 

There is not enough room in this article to convey all of things we learned about ourselves and restoring in remote locations, but here are the key takeaways from this experience: 

  • Restoration services can be provided no matter where the location of the project. While it may be trickier and more time-consuming, it’s still possible to mitigate the complexities of commuting to a faraway location. A house on an island in the near dead of winter doesn’t stop or limit the possibility of restoration. Despite the inaccessibility to ice roads and limited access to the ferry, with just a month’s wait Prism Specialties was still able to arrive on-site, collect necessary items and restore them. 
  • When it comes to restoration, the more, the merrier. Given the complex and long commute to the island home, scoping the job correctly was important in making sure the restoration was cost-effective. Prism Specialties has experts in three specialty restoration services so with one call and one company, the pack-out and travel costs were minimized.  We also saved the homeowners the headache of finding new appliances and service providers to replace their items. The adjuster and homeowner learned about the wide scope of items that could be restored instead of replaced such as curtains, towels, bedsheets and rugs. Maybe most importantly, we were also able to restore irreplaceable, sentimental items such as family photos, stuffed animals and mementos that the homeowner may have thought were destroyed forever. 
  • Expect the unexpected and develop a customized solution through strong project management. When we first got the call about this homeowner’s losses, we couldn’t anticipate everything. From the confusion on how we would access the home on a secluded island to determining how we would restore all the homeowner’s products, every day brought new challenges. We learned that effective project management — communication, planning and execution — is what brings success.  

We are proud of our work on this loss and thank our customers, the insurance adjuster and the homeowner, for allowing us to be a part of their recovery.