It Will Be Alright Again
Sunrise on Virginia Beach . . . nothing more to say.
The Sun Is . . . Rising
While in Virginia Beach helping to clean up from the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew I was fortunate enough to stay right on the beach. (It turns out off season rates are as good as anywhere else in the area!) I began taking a picture of the sunrise over the ocean each morning because I don't get that opportunity very often and I would send the picture to my wife each day.
I was in Virginia Beach throughout the Presidential campaign season I returned home just before election day. When I was looking back over my pictures from this trip I saw this particular sunrise and thought of a story I have heard several times over the years. It is said that when the Constitutional Convention was concluding Benjamin Franklin commented on a chair that George Washington had been sitting in throughout the convention that had a semi-circle sun carved into it. He said that he was unsure if that was a rising sun or a setting sun throughout the convention. Finally, at the end of the convention he became certain that for America, the sun was indeed rising.
When I thought of that story and this picture of the sun rising over Virginia Beach I thought about this Hurricane and all the other Storm Events that I have travelled to. I thought about all the storms that have hit our country in the past and I thought to myself, it's going to be alright for these people. Our country is at its best when helping those in need and we have an amazing ability to overcome difficulties in order to keep moving forward. That story of the rising sun chair and the picture I took reminded me that everyone on the East Coast that was affected by Hurricane Matthew may never be the same and it may take a long time to fully recover. But I am certain because of the people I met that for Virginia Beach and any other community affected, the sun is rising.
City crews in Virginia Beach take garbage from the mess created by Hurricane Matthew. Servpro was there to take care of people and property.
Too much Too Fast
Recently we were able to serve customers out of town that were affected by Hurricane Matthew. While North Carolina grabbed most of the headlines, our crew was sent to Virginia Beach, VA. It never ceases to amaze me how nature can put a wrench in our plans by damaging our property. We saw a tremendous amount of damage, not from ridiculously strong winds or trees falling on homes, but from flooding. While I certainly believe that North Carolina sustained heavier damage, Virginia Beach got a lot of the rainfall that accompanied the hurricane which caused pockets of extreme flooding. One of our customers was injured during the flooding and rescue crews had to use a boat to get him from his house to an emergency vehicle. I couldn't imagine having to boat up to my front door!
Many Hands Make for Light Work
Once the flood waters receded it was time for SERVPRO to go into action. One thing that excites me about this company is our ability to respond in times of need. SERVPRO's Storm Team is able to organize and send hundreds of crews to help when our customers need it the most. We have the resources to get all the equipment, supplies, tools and trained team members to the right spots quickly. It was phenomenal yet again to see so many SERVPRO trucks and vans from so many different parts of the country helping a city in need.
Help Isn't Just Being There, It's More
It's not just quantity that matters. We follow the same standards to help flood victims that we do every other day of the year. It's important to me that our customers know that we are there to help, not to take advantage of the situation they are in. Some contractors only see dollar signs. We follow IICRC standards for completing the job and we use the same estimating and pricing system that we always use. I found that this allowed our customers to trust us immediately even though we were from out of town. And trust is important to helping restore our customers. After all, it's important to restore the property, but it's more important to restore the customer's faith that it will be alright.
All In 216
Congratulations to the 2016 NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers! For basketball fans and Cleveland natives today is a great day of celebration and and awe. Having been born in Cleveland and being a die hard Cleveland sports fan I feel a sense of connection with those players and certainly with all the Cleveland fans.
Why even think you can win?
A documentary was recently released called "Believeland" that told the story of Cleveland almost winning so many times in the past only to have championship runs end in some miserable fashion. It had been 52 years since the last major sports championship in Cleveland. Cavs were down 3-1 in the best of seven series where no team in NBA history had ever come back to win in the finals. The Cleveland Cavaliers had never won a championship before. So what makes you think you win?
Perseverence is that thing that doesn't look at the final result when deciding whether or not to get out of bed tomorrow and try again. Living in the Cincinnati area as a Cleveland fan I get ridiculed on a regulare basis and I get asked why I continue to root for teams "that can't win". The answer is perseverence. There once was a drought that caused devastation to the farmers and others who called that area home. Being a spritual people they asked different priest, tribal leaders and everyone they could think of to get it to rain. Finally they found a "rain doctor" that claimed a 100% success rate at making it rain. Many people didn't buy into it, but they hired him in desperation and he began his rain dance with intense focus and belief that it would rain. Weeks went by with no rain but he kept dancing. Weeks turned into months and he kept dancing. There were cloudy days that still produced no rain and he kept dancing. Then finally, after the last believer had giving up on him, a rain drop finally fallen from the sky followed by another and another. When the rain came pouring down the people ran out to celebrate with the rain doctor who had never given up and continued to dance everyday. One skeptic asked the rain doctor on that day, "How could you be so sure you could make it rain and not give up?" He replied with what he thought was obvious, "Because I dance until it rains."
Belief in a win
As excited and relieved as I am as a fan to have the long drought end I still can't help but draw a parallel to the customers we serve. When there is a major fire, water, mold or other damage to their home it can be a gut wrenching blow. Many times it can feel like they have lost and that they just don't know how they'll be able to win again. My hope is that through our service we can help give our customers that hope so that they can persevere and rebuild not only their home, but their hope that it will be OK. That one day it will be "Like it never even happened®".
Cincinnati - The Party's Over
Fire extinguisher dust coated a stair case and made its way into 2 businesses. Only problem - there was never a fire!
Vandalism comes in many forms
This clean up was a new one to me, but given what caused the damage it seems like it shouldn't have been. A commercial property in Cincinnati had a top floor that was a residential apartment. There was a social gathering at the apartment and a fire extinguisher was used. The only problem . . . there was no fire! The extinguisher was discharged in the common stairwell by one of the party guests and found its way into two of the businesses in the building. This may seem somewhat harmless and just a little mess, but this was considered vandalism and cost over $10000 to clean up (thank goodness for insurance!)
It's just dust, right?
Fire extinguisher powder is a made up of very fine particles that can be harmful to our lungs, but is very effective against fire. Although this looks like it is "just dust" it will make its way through a typical shop vac or vacuum cleaner filter and back into the air. Sure, some will get trapped in the filter, but it will take a tremendously long time to keep cleaning and recleaning until it's all gone. In this case the dust didn't flow exactly like soot in a fire because there was no heat to create the same kinds of drafts, but the extinguisher dust did go throughout 2 businesses that had their doors closed. Several of the workers in one office were extremely concerned about their respiratory health and told us about coughing spells that they had after trying to work in there. They only made it half a day before leaving and trying to work from home.
If you were to pull out a human hair, cut it in half and then look at the surface you just cut you would be looking at something about 90 microns in size. Fire extinguisher dust is about 20 microns in size, less than 1/4 the size of a human hair. It's designed this way to get into small nooks and crannies to do it's job. Cleanup requires equipment that is up to the challenge. HEPA filters, by definition, trap particles down to .03 microns in size. We use special vacuums and air scrubbers with HEPA filters that are rated to trap these tiny particles so that they don't go right back in the air.
We sent a small army to this job and got the common areas and the business offices cleaned within 2 days so those companies could get back to work ASAP. It was a great feeling as a business owner knowing that we were able to get other businesses up and running again. It's always satisfying on a job like this to know that our specialized equipment worked as it should and there was no call back for any dust resettling. But the most important result we achieved in this job was that employees of those businesses felt safe going back to work knowing the job was done right and their health was not at risk. "Like it never even happened®".
Anderson - Gobble, Gobble
A wild turkey flew up and crashed into this second story window shattering glass into a bedroom.
Better on sandwich
Every other customer that I've ever served that had a turkey involved in their clean up also had cooking involved. Without a doubt this was one of the most unique situations I've ever come across. I've seen jobs before where a deer had crashed through a basement door or window and I've seen times when a bird tried to fly through a window like on the glass cleaner commercials, but failed with a resounding thud. This was the first time I'd ever seen a bird succeed. A wild turkey flew up high enough and was large enough to shatter the glass on this second floor window. It wasn't able to get through the screen, but the damage was done.
Extent of the problem
Glass in automobiles is tempered glass which tends to break into small chunks when it is broken for safety. The glass that generally goes into windows for our homes is typically not tempered and one, two or three panes. This type of glass breaks into large, sharp, pointed pieces and also very small slivers that can be very hard to see. In this case, the window burst into a carpeted bedroom with no clear idea exactly where every single piece went. There was a bed next to the window, a dresser within a few feet and clothing in a closet right across from the bed. Small pieces of glass can get embedded in fabrics like carpeting, clothing and bedding and this is a room where skin comes in contact with those materials on a regular basis.
Our technicians began immediately to clean up the glass and then remove the carpet. We just can't take a chance that a small sliver of glass gets stuck in the carpet and then makes its way into our customer's foot later on. We emptied all the dresser drawers, removed all the bedding and had all the clothing professionally cleaned. We thoroughly cleaned the subfloor and took extra care to make sure that nothing we removed could possibly allow a piece of glass to leave the room. Whether it's vandalism due to animals or humans, we've seen it before and we have a plan. Of course the best plan of all is to keep the turkey on a sandwich!
Lawrenceburg - Cool down and get Aggressive!
Dry Ice Blasting is a very aggressive and very effective cleaning method as seen in this fire in Cleves, OH.
Wow that fire is hot!
Recently we were challenged with a very extreme basement fire. The fire was so hot that it actually burned through several floor joists and created a hole in the first floor. It is estimated that this basement was over 1100 degrees Farenheit and with that much heat the fire doesn't just create soot, but it bakes the soot into everything. It's one thing to clean smoke and soot residue off of walls, ceilings, floors and belongings at the opposite end of a house from the fire, but quite another when extreme heat is a factor.
Baked on soot meets its match
They say that sometimes you have to fight fire with fire, but not in this case. In order to find a cleaning process that will get the baked on soot cleaned off we turned to . . . ice? Dry Ice actually. Dry Ice isn't actually ice in the sense that there is no water present in Dry Ice. It is made up of CO2 cooled and compressed into a solid and shaped into pellets that are about -109 degrees F. Special equipment then blasts these pellets at the surface that needs to be cleaned much like sand or soda blasting. Dry Ice blasting is less aggressive than sand blasting which is perfect for fire damage clean up without the need for heavy, burdensome suits and other personal protective equipment. The other major benefit is the speed of clean up after the blasting. Once the Dry Ice hits a surface it turns back into a gas and "evaporates" instead of leaving hundreds of pounds of media (sand, soda, etc.) to clean up.
A solution for every situation
Whether it's a small trash can fire that is put out immediately or major catastrophe SERVPRO of Cheviot and Cleves has the answer to the big question - "How do I clean this up?"
Sardinia - Severe Fire Needs Hero Level Service
This severe fire damage in Cincinnati was the result of an electrical malfunction. The entire 2nd floor was burned but many items were still saved.
Where Do I Start???
Any fire or smoke damage can be disruptive to our normal lives. Major fire damage has the ability to put us into a complete tailspin. The initial shock and awe of what just happened to this homeowner was extreme, but it is OK. What else would you expect when the entire 2nd floor of your house caught fire and burned? This homeowner had a normal life that he was living before this. He has appointments to keep, work to do, life to live. Now, for the immediate future his life would be dealing with this catastrophe. Surveying all the damage, the state of his long time home, he simply did not know where to even start.
We Help Restore Our Customer
Our skills, tools and training are geared toward cleaning, fixing and restoring property and belongings. But our employees from top to bottom, Sales to Production are focused on restoring our customers. Your insurance company can help put your mind at ease by writing checks to pay for damage, but our techinicians are the Heros on the ground ready to service our customers until they feel restored. Our goal is to use our skills in fire damage restoration to restore our customer's sense that it will all be OK, that life will be good again.
How We Help
- We Have A Plan = you are able to gain confidence in our company, but more importantly, you are able to see for the first time that it will be OK, that you will be OK
- Inventory and Packing services = you continue your normal schedule while we sort, photograph, pack and list your belongings in a way that will help you throughout the claim
- Web Link to Inventory = you can view your inventory in your leisure from any laptop or tablet because trust and your convenience is important to us
- Navigating Insurance = we can help reduce your anxiety when dealing with an insurnace claim by helping provide documentation, photos, loss item lists, accurate estimates and invoices and even pricing of loss items
- Complete Property Repair = you don't have to search for multiple companies and act like your own general contractor, rather we bring a team to serve you and stay accountable to you
The home we are discussing in this blog ended up being a total loss and was bulldozed. But thanks to our plan, our service and our Hero Ready team, we were able to help the homeowner make good decisions all along the way. We quickly inventoried, packed and moved all salvagable items to our warehouse and created a loss list for our customer to turn into his insurance company. Then we worked fast to create accurate estiamates for mitigation and for repairs. That information was critical. It turned out that the cost to repair the property exceeded the limits of the policy and value of the home. The homeowner made the decision to tear down the home and buy a manufactured home to put in its place. Without good information property owners will likely make bad decisions that will end up costing more. Because this customer consulted the professionals he was able to make the best decision for himself.
Cheviot - All Mucked Up After Water Main Break
A water main break in Cheviot, OH caused massive amounts of water and mud to flow into our customer's basement. Good thing we're Here to Help!
Water damage is one thing, but . . .
Sometimes it would be great if there was only water damage. SERVPRO of Cheviot and Cleves helped this customer in Cheviot clean up from a water main break that brought hundreds of pounds of mud into the house. The water was so powerful that it actually knocked the bottom section of the garage door off the tracks! No worries though, our Hero Ready technicians are up to the task.
Where do I start?
Most homeowners would not know where to start with damage this severe, but SERVPRO of Cheviot and Cleves has been there before and has a plan for your recovery. In this case our technicians had several needs to satisfy including:
- Classify, inventory and remove damaged contents
- Fix the garage door for security purposes
- Get the mud out!
- Inspect for water damage throughout the entire basement
- Sanitize the entire basement
- Help with the insurance claim process and billing
- Preserve the value of the property
Bridgetown - Mold damage from water leak Cincinnati
Mold behind a cabinet was discovered in this home in Bridgetown. Kitchens and baths should be inspected periodically for signs of leaks.
Procrastination grows things!
Don't ignore the signs of potential water leaks! Musty smells, bubbling paint, stained drywall, and swelled paneling just to name a few. It's what you dont see that can become the big problem. Over time wet materials in your home can become a new home for something you don't want moving in like mold or other microorganisms. Like most living things, water is the key to life. So keep your home dry and keep it healthy. If you suspect a water leak, call us! We will inspect your areas of concern for free!
Mold has needs too
Mold needs a few things in order to grow:
- Stagnant air
- Agreeable temperatures
Mold can't eat synthetic materials like plastic or vinyl, rather it likes natural fibers like wood, paper and cotton or leather. Water is key to mold growth. Many times the more harmful molds require more water to develop. Mold can't grow if the spores (like seeds) can't settle down because they are always blowing in the wind. Mold tends to grow slower or not at all in colder temperatures, but don't think that it can't grow. Have you cleaned out your fridge lately and found mold growing in that pasta sauce you forgot about from two years ago?
Many times the very best location for mold to take root and begin growing is inside wall cavities, like in the photo above. There could be a substantial amount of growth on the back side before enough grows on the face of the wall to be discovered. The key is to inspect your home for potential or existing water intrusion. If you suspect mold but aren't sure call SERVPRO of Cheviot and Cleves.
Cleves - Musty odors??
Microbial growth found behind baseboards in Cleves.
Finding Hidden Damage
I was out on an inspection due to "musty odor". Visual inspection showed nothing out of the ordinary with the exception of a little staining on a piece of baseboard. Moisture meter readings showed all was dry. I was about to pack up and leave, but the stain on the baseboard bothered me. I got permission to remove the baseboard...good thing I went this extra step! The back was covered in growth! I then cut an inspection hole in the drywall and found growth on the back of the drywall. What does all this mean?? One, dont ignore your nose! Two, make sure you get a thorough inspection!
We have great tools that help us track down water, mold and fire damage in your property. the funny thing about tools is they don't work right in an untrained hand. Our technicians all receive thorough training and certification. Our corporate office has an entire training department that makes it easy for us to provide our customers with trained, knowledgable technicians. We also send the best technicians to outside training to become certified through the IICRC and rise to the level of Lead Technician. Our Lead Technicians have the training, the tools and the experience to keep digging to find all the damage and make sure your property is returned to a clean, safe condition.