A Word from our Owners
To say that the effects from Harvey have been a tragic nightmare would be an understatement. Whether you've been directly affected or helping friends and family, it has been the worst disaster our city has ever seen for most of us.
As the water recedes and our neighbors, friends and family are left with the aftermath, I want to be helpful and share some tips on what to do and what not to do. I am sending this out, not as a plug for our company, but to try and be helpful to all that need help, or have or will have questions. Mark and I have been inundated with calls, texts and FB messages and we can't keep up with them all as it is probably the same for you. So, please read and I hope you will find it helpful. Please feel free to share this post.
Those of you who know me, know that my husband, Mark Hart, & I own a few SERVPRO franchises in Texas; Sugar Land, Victoria and NE San Antonio. Two of the three locations of our franchises are in the communities directly impacted by Harvey. Our business is helping with the clean up after water, fire and mold damage. SERVPRO is a national franchise system and in devastation such as this, deploys hundreds of teams to help our communities. If you have confirmed flood or wind driven rain causing water damage, and would like our help, please call our office and ask to be put on our Storm Response Team list; we can have your friend, family or neighbor added to the Storm Response Team to get in line for the cleanup that will have to happen. Our number is 281-313-1338.
The advantages of getting on our list are these:
1. SERVPRO has over 1700 franchises in the country and there will probably be hundreds of SERVPRO teams coming in to help. Getting on our Storm Team Response list will help expedite your getting the help you need as lists will be divided up among the participating SERVPRO franchises.
2. SERVPRO helps manage all jobs through their Storm Teams. If you run into any problems with the franchise that is doing your work, they take action to help resolve it.
3. Standard Industry pricing is used by all SERVPRO's for mitigation services. We have a National reputation to uphold so they monitor this closely.
Having said that, I'm sure you can understand that everyone in our industry is overwhelmed with calls for help. Please understand that a lot of our own employees have been affected and crews traveling from out of town are trickling into Houston (and Victoria) as they are able. There are still areas around town that are not accessible and in danger of more flooding due to rivers cresting and levees failing. (I, myself, am confined to my house as my small neighborhood street is flooded - there is only one way in or out).
Please be understanding to the companies and their staff of people that are trying to help you. Our crews and administrators will be working long days and nights for probably months.
There are a lot of other good companies out there and there are a few things to watch for. BEWARE of fly by night companies that are in it to make a quick buck and leave town. There are some bad apples out there that give our industry a bad wrap.
Things to know:
1. Final billing should be provided once work is completed and is usually put into a line item estimating software program called, Xactimate. This is the industries standard price list used by most Insurance companies.
2. You will be paying out of pocket for the clean up services as rising water is not covered on your normal property insurance policy. In most cases, you will be asked to pay 50% to get started and 50% upon completion. DO NOT PAY 100% UP FRONT.
3. If you have flood insurance, they likely will not cover the entire cost for the cleanup and repairs. Get a copy of your final line item bill (an Xactimate) estimate and submit to your insurance for the maximum reimbursement amount they will cover.
4. Check your policy for wind driven rain coverage, if your home suffered that kind of damage as well.
5. Apply for help from FEMA. I understand they are covering hotel expenses up to 30 days and other essentials.
If you choose to start your own cleanup, keep this in mind; You are dealing contaminated water that has now contaminated your home. The following are some tips to consider:
1. Porous materials must be discarded. All flooring, drywall, cabinets, insulation need to be removed at least up to 12" above the water line. However, industry standard is up to two feet above the affected area as a lot of times you cannot always see how far up the water may have traveled. Wet wicks to dry - I highly recommend removing 2' above the water line.
2. Removal should be taken down to the studs, disinfected, then dried with professional drying equipment.
3. Any fabric material, such as rugs, couches, chairs, etc. should be replaced. DON'T TRY TO SAVE THEM as they are contaminated with bacteria from the rising water.
4. Furniture legs can be replaced. If you are sure that the fabric part of it is not affected, you could save your furniture pieces by just replacing the legs.
5. Watch out for electrical and plumbing if you do your own demo. Your power and water should be shut down while performing demolition. Be careful not to cut electrical or plumbing lines - you don't want to add on to the expense of your repairs.
MOLD IS LIKELY TO GROW IN THESE CONDITIONS. TEXAS law requires that companies are licensed to do any MOLD REMEDIATION. However, sometimes in a disaster situation, the State could decide to relax their requirements. Refer to the TEXAS DEPARTMENT of STATE HEALTH SERVICES; www.dshs.texas.gov.There is some good additional information on there about flood water damage.
We are praying for our entire community during this mess. I hope this is helpful information for all of you. If you have questions, feel free to call our office, 281-313-1338.
Love to all,
Natalie & Mark Hart