On August 29, 2021, Hurricane Ida made landfall on Louisiana’s Gulf Coast, becoming the second-most damaging and intense hurricane on record to make landfall there, behind Hurricane Katrina in 2005. With 149-mile-per-hour winds, the Category 4 hurricane was just shy of the 157-mile-per-hour wind classification to be ranked as a Category 5 storm. And as with any major storm, the destruction and devastation was profound.
Hurricane Ida brought upwards of $60 billion dollars in damages, $18 billion of which were made up of insured losses in Louisiana alone. Another $584 million in damages were estimated to the surrounding areas’ agriculture. As the storm continued with somewhat weaker winds, it made its way from the South to the Northeast U.S. As a result, many across the region saw firsthand what a significant event Hurricane Ida really was, creating an unusual blow to New York and New Jersey, specifically – areas that were not as prepared to handle floods and extreme winds.
A common misconception we sometimes encounter as restoration professionals is that our industry only focuses on one particular type of work. The reality is that we consistently help the community overcome setbacks in a variety of ways that often require an extra level of customer service, empathy and patience. Our customers’ needs are all different, and we have to take a very tailored, personal approach to each job. In many cases, we go well beyond the expected, providing services like data and document recovery, antique and fine-art restoration, insurance recommendations, and post-emergency plans aimed at preventing long-term damage.
As Hurricane Ida slowly dissipated, our individually-owned and operated PuroClean franchise locations were immediately called upon to offer support to those who were stripped of their livelihoods, in many ways, with extensive property damage. The resulting flood and water damage was astronomical, and in many cases, homes were completely destroyed. Not only did we jump in to assist families and businesses who experienced these major setbacks, but our headquarters team also worked to provide consistent safety information to our franchise owners out in the field, enabling them to better service impacted communities.
Specializing in the “Residential Loss” division of PuroClean, my team steps in to both respond, assist on the ground and help mobilize teams to deploy for onsite support. Residential Loss refers to any situation where there’s been a significant amount of damage to a residential property. There may be thousands of dollars worth of damage to the structure of a home and its contents, but determining the type of service and equipment required varies with each situation. Residential Loss includes significant impact on single- or multi-family homes, individual condo units, or rental apartments, caused by direct (requiring immediate action) or indirect (part of an uninterrupted chain of events) actions leading to a residential property loss. Residential Loss comprises any area or portion of a residential property that has been damaged, including interior damage, exterior damage or personal assets, following a significant event.
Our services include any damage resulting in a very complex set of repairs to return the property to its original state. In these types of situations, PuroClean utilizes a running list of trusted resources and relationships with our corporate partners across the insurance and restoration industries, helping our customers put the pieces together, serving as a critical liaison and project manager at what can be a complicated, overwhelming time.
At the peak of our response efforts for both Louisiana and states throughout the Northeast region, we had over 50 of our U.S.-based PuroClean franchise locations involved in this work, with the help of our sister company, Signal Restoration Services. Fast forward to today, we still have PuroClean crews on the ground, managing extensive restoration efforts. While tackling larger projects, our teams have simultaneously responded to homeowners who contacted us directly or through their insurance company. We work directly with major partners to have their claims immediately processed and covered. Other clients we service are engaged in partnerships with PuroClean that enable us to assist their employees after major weather or emergency events as well.
I couldn’t be prouder of our teams on the ground servicing property owners with relentless customer service. No matter how long these jobs take, our teams are fully committed to remaining onsite, doing whatever it takes to help communities in need.
In this episode of Ask the Expert, Meador shares what it was like responding to devastation from Hurricane and Tropical Storm Ida. He also offers best practices for planning, coordination and customer service during CAT restoration.