Recent Storm Damage Posts

3 Ways Exterior Maintenance Can Reduce Storm Damage

7/1/2022 (Permalink)

Construction worker wearing safety harness and safety line working on a metal industry roof new warehouse Failure to address flaws with a facility's exterior can allow a strong storm to enter the facility's interior.

3 Ways Exterior Maintenance Can Help You Avoid Storm Damage

As every property manager knows, keeping up on exterior maintenance can pay big dividends. Failure to address shortcomings with the exterior of a facility can allow a strong storm to penetrate into the interior of a facility in San Antonio, TX. Therefore, a regular maintenance program by professional contractors is likely to strengthen the bottom line. A building maintained to high standards offers protection in several ways.

1. It Reduces Wind Damage.

Strong walls, a newer roof and modern windows can fight off the effects of high winds. Sustained wind gusts will seek out the weakness in a building and tear off gutters, increase the size of cracks and even break windows. A regular building inspection can locate weaknesses and schedule timely repairs.

2. It Repels Water.

Incessant rain is notorious for finding the shortcomings of a building's defenses. Looking at the roofing system should be the centerpiece of any exterior maintenance program. Any time water is allowed into a facility, it can wreak havoc with electrical systems, increase the likelihood of mold formation and break down materials. The services of a professional storm mitigation team will be needed if too much water enters.

3. It Keeps Everyone Safe.

A poorly maintained building is full of dangers for employees and customers. In the midst of a storm, items can fall from the roof and pose a threat to passersby. This could expose a company to liability lawsuits. Also, water entering the building could pose electrical shock hazards as well as increasing the possibility of trips and falls. A secure building exterior is safer for everyone.

Storms cause billions of dollars in damages every year to U.S. companies. There are numerous ways to minimize the possibility of property damage and injuries from storms. A strong exterior maintenance program is one of the best ways to ward off damage from hail, hurricanes and tornadoes. It offers an additional layer of protection for a business.

3 Tips for Conducting Effective Fire Drills at Work

6/1/2022 (Permalink)

Red tank of fire extinguisher. Overview of a powerful industrial fire extinguishing system. Have a plan so that you can get back to business quickly and safely after a fire. SERVPRO can help you, call us!

3 Tips For Conducting Effective Workplace Fire Drills

As a business owner or manager, you care about your employees and their safety. Emergency preparedness against disaster is an important part of maintaining a safe workplace. Make sure that your employees are prepared for the event of a fire in San Antonio, TX, by using these three tips to make your fire drills more effective.

1. Start with a Plan

Before jumping into a drill, make sure that you start with a detailed plan. Here are a few items to include:

Map out evacuation routes. Keep these posted in visible areas. Mark the location of fire extinguishers.
Designate an employee to act as fire warden. Assign other responsibilities as needed, such as shutting down equipment or helping at-risk individuals out of the building.

Decide on follow-up communication. Have a system for determining whether everyone has been safely evacuated. Identify a set meeting place outside the building.

Know who you will call for fire cleanup and restoration after the emergency has passed. Have a plan so that you can get back to business quickly and safely.

2. Set Fire Drill Goals

Set specific objectives for each fire drill. These could include improving evacuation time (assign someone to clock this, such as the fire warden) or efficiently shutting down necessary equipment. Make and keep a goal for the frequency of fire drills. Plan on at least two to three each year.

3. Evaluate After the Drill

After you've completed a fire drill, take the time to debrief with your employees. Discuss what went well and make specific observations about needed improvements. Ask for feedback from everyone involved to identify any hiccups that need to be worked out before the next drill.

Drills are an important way to prepare for potential emergencies in the workplace. Make the most of your time, and that of your employees, by ensuring that your drills are effective. Plan ahead, be specific in your objectives and take the time to communicate both before and after drills.

4 Ways To Prepare Your Business for a Thunderstorm

5/1/2022 (Permalink)

First aid kit In the event that one of your colleagues is injured during a storm, you'll want to know first aid.

4 Ways To Get Your Business Ready For A Storm

You're probably used to experiencing thunderstorms in your San Antonio, TX, business building. However, you may experience one or more that are potentially dangerous, possibly to the point of requiring storm damage restoration. If this occurs, you'll want to be ready. So, here are four ways to prepare your business for a thunderstorm.

1. Make a Safety Plan

One of the most important things to do in this process is to make a plan of action. First, start by conducting a walk-through of your building. You'll need to find places for everyone to go during a storm with high winds. Look for areas that are away from the following:

  • Windows
  • Highly breakable glass
  • Skylights

Once these spots have been located, be sure to let your employees know about each one. If you can, you may want to create signage as a reminder.

2. Keep Trees Trimmed

Trees can be dangerous during a storm, especially if some aren't kept trimmed. If a strong enough wind blew during a rain storm, a tree or its branches could fall and cause significant damage to your building. Fortunately, trimming trees allows the plants to better resist the wind.

3. Use Lightning Rods

Lightning rods serve as protection for buildings from lightning strikes. Be sure to get these rods installed if your building doesn't have any. If you do have lightning rods, get each one inspected on a regular basis. You don't want your protection to stop working during a rain storm.

4. Learn First Aid

In the event that one of your colleagues is injured during a storm, you'll want to know first aid. Be sure that you or someone reliable on your staff is knowledgeable in this regard. You'll also want to have some backups in case that individual isn't present.

Preparing for a dangerous rain storm is an important task for any business owner. No matter how high or low your area's storm risk is, be sure to give the preparation process your full attention.

5 Things To Expect From Damage After a Storm

3/8/2022 (Permalink)

Restoration machines are cleaning water damage in a room This room was flooded by rising waters. If you need a storm restoration team, please contact SERVPRO.

Damage After A Storm: Here's What to Expect

If your business has experienced water damage after a flood or a storm in San Antonio, TX, it can be overwhelming to know how to begin the recovery process. Here are five things to expect as you navigate a restoration.

1. Remove Standing Water

The most important first step is to remove the standing water from the building. The longer standing water remains, the more damage it does to your property. To avoid needing to tear out every last bit of dry wall and flooring, use a water pump to remove water. For small problems, a shop vacuum might work, but for bigger floods, a more specialized pump will be needed.

2. Inspect for Safety

Once the water is gone, the entire building will need to be carefully inspected for safety. A storm restoration team will have the necessary tools to inspect the areas behind walls to see where water has infiltrated.

3. Salvage or Scrap

After a thorough safety check has been conducted, decisions need to be made about the materials in your business. Some furniture and hardwoods can be salvaged, while it is often necessary to scrap drywall and ceiling tiles. Work with professionals who can help you know what all can be salvaged before you start to tear out everything. Salvaging can save you a lot of money in repairs.

4. Dry Thoroughly

Now that you're down to bare bones, everything needs to be dried out completely in order to prevent mold growth and structural damage. Pay special attention to crawl spaces, attics, and spaces beneath porches or decks. Untended mold that grows in those areas can cause more damage down the road once you believe that the restoration process is over.

5. Restore and Restart

Finally, your property can be restored to its former glory and you can focus on getting back to work.
Don't allow a restoration to overwhelm you. Before you tear out everything, work with professional restorers to help you navigate the process.

The “Hurricane Diaries” – Part VII

10/4/2021 (Permalink)

Random cyclonic activity in a hurricane can cause devastating – yet, random – destruction in its path. With ANY force as destructive as a hurricane roars ashore, structures that were there one day can literally disappear the next!

As we – fingers crossed – began to see an end to the 2021 hurricane season, we know many are still reeling from the effects of earlier named storms along both the Gulf Coast and Atlantic seaboard. In fact, Hurricane Ida continued to leave a wake of destruction in her path as she moved up the Mississippi River valley and into neighboring states. So even as the destruction now fades from the headlines, the aftermath for residents affected by ANY storm continues for months or even years!

And this impact was experienced directly by our “Hurricane Diaries” team member, when her family personally felt the effects of Hurricane Camille when it struck the Mississippi coast in 1969. She once again shares these recollections in another “Diary” entry particularly relevant to this situation, and encourage you to check out some earlier installments chapters (Part I, II, III, IV, V and VI), then dive right in to this new chapter:

“While I’ve shared some very early childhood memories, and some very distinct career memories, of hurricanes in my lifetime, this particular one possibly had the greatest impact on me. For the first time, I had the beginnings of an understanding about ‘real’ things as I would be entering my second year of junior high school…or, at least my parents had started to discuss more ‘adult’ matters in my presence.

“Either way, I was very aware of the major upheaval that was about to happen in my life. I had a good life in La Porte, with friends and a social life, respected academic standing, and had just earned first chair clarinet in the Junior Bulldog Band. But, a job offer too good – and lucrative – for my Daddy to pass up had presented itself (especially as paying for my collegiate education loomed closer and closer), so we would be moving back to Mississippi. We had lived there during my first grade year, and half of second grade before returning to La Porte and our home my parents had built after World War II.

“However, after being absentee landlords for those 18 months, my parents were convinced they needed to sell my childhood home prior to this move. Fortunately, my father had longtime family friends just across the Singing River outside Pascagoula, MS, where he could stay while beginning his new position and searching for our new family home. My mother, my little brother and I stayed behind to get the house and yard in tip-top shape for sale.

“Remember, this was the summer of 1969; there were no picture phones, no fax machines, no desktop computers…and you PAID for every single minute of long-distance telephone calls. So my Daddy would go look at houses every weekend, sometimes even after work during the week, and take notes. He would then call Mama and describe the house, property, location, features and price. They would discuss and decide whether to make an offer or to keep looking. That level of trust STILL evokes profound feelings in me!

“Being that in-tune probably made a major contribution to their 59 years of marriage. However, despite their shared mindset, he still would NOT make a decision of this magnitude without speaking with her first! And so, began THAT weekend…

“After months of searching and discussing, he found ‘IT’ – the perfect home. Ideal location, good school system, near community stores and conveniences, and priced to move. It had charm, a sprawling fenced yard, actually close enough to school where I would be liberated finally from bus ridership! His sole focus that Sunday afternoon was reaching my mother for her final stamp of approval to finalize the purchase.

“Ironically, a heavy storm had blown through Galveston Bay earlier and left our yard quite a mess with downed limbs and lots of leaves – and this was before we had leaf-blowers. This was good, old-fashioned manual yard work. Meanwhile, my mother supervised the clean-up from her perch atop a ladder while she finished painting the eves along that front corner of the house. With no fancy answering machines (we had just gotten off a party line less than a decade before!) and no way to hear the one phone tucked away in the opposite corner of the house inside, Daddy tried in vain to get her okay.

“Having lived along the Gulf of Mexico for the majority of his life, my father was quite accustomed to weathering hurricanes. So, when they lost phone and power lines that night as Hurricane Camille roared in to their west at Pass Christian in Mississippi, my father just hunkered down with the rest of the family and waited it out. Luckily, the western Alabama coastal region was spared the worst of the storm and the next day Daddy ventured out to check on the house with his real estate agent. He had managed to get through to Mama early that morning and they had decided to make the purchase immediately, since schools would be starting SOON.

“So, Daddy and the agent made their way to the site which had so captivated my parents…and found a slab. Nothing else, no frame, no outbuildings, no fence, just a hunk of land with a big concrete slab sitting in the middle. At that point, my parents KNEW their greater angels had been working overtime on their behalf, and they had dodged a major bullet. If Mama had heard that phone, we could have been the proud owners of a slab, just like too many other residents all along the Mississippi Gulf Coast from Gulfport through to Pascagoula.

“Sadly, their predicament also became our predicament. Almost EVERYBODY needed a place to live. Our furniture and the majority of our possessions were in a storage facility, and we began our new schools in Ocean Springs (just east of Biloxi) while living in a motel room on the highway, with a nice-ish kitchenette. We finally resigned ourselves to not being able to find a home large enough for everything, and many items remained in storage for that year. And as a maturing teen, I finally understood what it was like to have to ‘carry on’ after a hurricane turns your life upside down.”

Even though the “dramatic” stories and headlines may have disappeared from news stories, you can count on both our SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio team and the teams from across the nation to stick around even when it doesn’t make headlines…because we’re committed to making it “Like it never even happened.”

When Elements Collide, The Results Are RARELY Good!

10/4/2021 (Permalink)

While breathtaking to behold, the combination of rain and electrical storms can have deadly consequences. When we think of spring or autumn storms, usually the first thing that comes to mind is flooding…but fire and water can make a potent mix!

In a post we did about the rise in popularity of outdoor features, experts noted the expanded presence of both fire and water elements into these al fresco entertainment spaces. And we’re the first to admit the combination of these two lively natural forces can be mesmerizing. From a cozy fire pit with a fountain as a backdrop to an infinity-edge pool visually spilling into glowing fire features, each seems to intensify the qualities of the other.

The same holds true of a spectacular thunderstorm. The pyrotechnics of charged lightning streaking across the sky, as rain rhythmically taps around us, has captivated the human imagination for millennia. It’s truly a breathtaking phenomenon to behold…and potentially, equally dangerous!

Let’s be honest, when you hear storms, your first thought is probably flooding and water, with a secondary picture of wind or tornado damage. But we’d wager that fire probably falls completely off your radar, unless YOU’VE been personally affected. Yet, in the last month alone, three lightning strikes in the San Antonio area have been responsible for catastrophic house fires.

Carefully controlled, fire and water can be a stunning feature in any home or landscape (just picture a beautiful fire at your feet while lounging in your luxurious soaking tub). But in the hands of Mother Nature on a rampage, the results usually have a considerably more negative impact on the value of your property!

Luckily, you can take a few precautionary steps to lessen the probability of lightning strikes “lighting-up” your home…and investment. And, we found a great starting point:

“Lightning poses a major risk of property damage to both homeowners and renters by causing fires and power surges that damage electronics. The Insurance Information Institute reported lightning strikes cost $739 million in homeowners’ insurance losses in 2014, up 9.7% from 2013. What's more, the report noted the amount of claims was declining (due to lightning protection technology) and the average cost per claim was rising, as damaged electronics become more expensive…Here are four ways to protect your home from lightning:

  • Use a home lightning protection system
    One of the best ways for homeowners, in particular, to protect their homes from lightning is to install a home lightning protection system…Lightning protection systems can include:
  • Lightning rods
  • Main conductors
  • Grounds
  • Bonds
  • Surge protectors
  • Unplug electronics and appliances
    In addition to causing structural fires, lightning can damage the electronics in your home. Dan Robinson of Storm Highway explained that lightning can cause power surge damage  if it uses your home's electrical wiring system as its primary or secondary path. Robinson noted the electrical surge can damage even non-electrical appliances. An easy step both owners and renters can take to avoid electrical damage is to unplug any electronic devices or appliances in anticipation of a storm.
  • Install transient voltage surge suppressors
    There will always be times when you're not available to unplug your electronics, such as during a vacation. One way to make sure your electronics are always protected from lightning is to install transient voltage surge protectors. According to Allstate, transient voltage surge protectors are connected to computers and other electronic equipment to limit voltage to 1.5 times the normal voltage.
  • Check your homeowners and  renters insurance  coverage
    Even if you take all the precautionary steps, you will want to make sure your homeowners insurance and renters insurance plans cover damage caused by lightning. Not all insurance plans are the same, so make sure yours will cover damage done to your home and electronics. It’s especially important to make sure you are covered in case of lightning damage if you live in an area that has frequent lightning storms.

According to State Farm, the top 10 states for lightning damage insurance claims in 2014 were: Georgia, Alabama, Texas, Louisiana, Illinois, North Carolina, Tennessee, Indiana, Florida and Missouri. Yep…there we are, right in the mix. But, whether flood, wind OR fire damage from those storms, you can count on our trained remediation, mitigation and restoration specialists at SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio. We’re experts at dealing with what happens when elements collide – whether wind, water or fire!

It’s NEVER Too Early To Be Prepared!

5/31/2021 (Permalink)

Having an emergency checklist, and a “go-bag” of supplies ready, makes good sense ANY time of year…but especially NOW! Whether hurricane, polar vortex or any other natural disaster, it’s ALWAYS a smart idea to be ready for whatever Mother Nature throws our way!

It’s THAT time of year…again! It hardly seems like a year has passed since we faced the start of another hurricane season here in Texas. Yet, once again, the first of June has rolled around and we can only hope the 2021 season doesn’t try to outdo LAST year!

Honestly, we cannot recall working our way through the entire alphabet of names and then moving into GREEK letters! But from OUR standpoint, we sure know it was memorable…and considering the stats, this comes as no surprise:

“The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season was the most active and the fifth costliest Atlantic hurricane season on record. The season also had the highest accumulated cyclone energy since 2017. In addition, it was the fifth consecutive above-average season from 2016 onward. The season featured a total of 31 tropical cyclones, all but one of which became a named storm. Of the 30 named storms, 14 developed into hurricanes, and a record-tying seven further intensified into major hurricanes. It was the second and final season to use the Greek letter storm naming system, the first being 2005. Of the 30 named storms, 11 of them made landfall in the contiguous United States, breaking the record of nine set in 1916. During the season, 27 tropical storms established a new record for the earliest formation by storm number. This season also featured a record 10 tropical cyclones that underwent rapid intensification, tying it with 1995.”

Maybe because of everything ELSE Mother Nature threw at us after that interminable hurricane season ended, it just feels like we’ve hardly gotten a respite. However, the extended polar vortex, combined with tornadic windstorms and torrential flooding rains DID give us plenty of insights and hard-won experience in being prepared! So it’s time to gird our loins – armed with valuable knowledge – and face the 2021 hurricane season head-on.

And the best way to make sure you can “weather” whatever shows up on the radar, is to be prepared BEFORE disaster looms! Even if you never need it (fingers crossed), having an Emergency Checklist and “go-bag” of everything you need, will save you valuable time – along with a bit of sanity – IF the worst-case scenario does happen.

Now this will look different for every family and household. But, everyone should have the “bare necessities” handy and either pre-packed or easily accessible if the need arises. Emergency preparedness can range from a few “well, of course” items full-on “survival in the wild” supplies. So we’ll start you off with some basics and over time (and with some “experiences”) your personal checklist and supply stockpile will evolve to suit your particular family and needs.

  • Water (3 gallons/person per day)
  • First Aid Kit
  • Medications (prescription & OTC)
  • Pet Supplies (meds, bowls, collars/leads/carriers, shot records – some shelters won’t take pets without proof of vaccinations)
  • Non-Perishable Foods
  • High-Energy/Stress Foods (energy bars, nuts, and of course, candy)
  • Basic Tools (hammer, screwdrivers, wrench, pliers, utility knife, scissors)
  • Important Personal Documents (including insurance, IDs, proof of address, medical records)
  • Emergency Contacts List
  • Candles, Lanterns, Matches, Flashlight(s), Batteries, Sterno, Flares/Glow Sticks (they’re not just for kids or concerts!)
  • Paper Goods (toilet paper, paper towels, paper plates)
  • Spare Keys/Glasses/Contacts
  • Manual Can Opener, Cooking/Eating Utensils
  • Weather-Appropriate Clothing (at least one change/person per day)
  • Water Containers
  • Portable Radio & Electronic Device Chargers
  • Personal Hygiene Products
  • Blankets, Tarps, Heavy-Duty Trash Bags
  • Whistle (devise a signal for your family, i.e. three short blasts, long-short-long)
  • Cash (remember, ATMs will probably not have power)
  • Hand Sanitizer/Bleach/Gloves
  • Maps (again, GPS may not be available)
  • Entertainment (YES, this is important for adults & kids since cable/devices may be offline)
  • AND…the cure for a million ills, DUCT TAPE!

Certainly this is NOT an exhaustive list and you will have other items specific to your particular household and life. But it does give you a good starting point. And since many of these items have an extended “shelf life” you can pack them away and have them ready to go in case of an emergency – whether evacuating or just hunkering down and trying to make the best of things in your own home. Then, after whatever “disaster” has passed, remember your local SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio is ALSO prepared to deal with whatever Mother Nature did to your home and possessions!

The “Hurricane Diaries” – Part III

4/14/2021 (Permalink)

When hurricanes hit, it’s not just rain & floods. Wind damage from hurricanes actually takes a MUCH higher financial toll! You hear “hurricane” and think driving rain & boats on flooded streets, but many DON’T realize hurricane-force winds can cause even MORE damage!

Lately, when someone says “storm” the majority of us IMMEDIATELY recall the grim days this past February when Arctic air invaded our normally-temperate state. However, the rising temperatures help to make those memories quickly recede. After all, spring is a time to look forward to the warm summer days ahead.

And along with the endless summer days filled with fun in the sun, the month of June also heralds the beginning of something ELSE—Hurricane Season! Experts have even started to make their predictions for the upcoming Atlantic storm season just one week into April…and it looks like we could be in for another rough ride:

“Colorado State University Tropical Meteorology Project released its annual hurricane season outlook on Thursday (April 8), which is predicting for an above-average season in 2021…

“The 2021 Atlantic hurricane season outlook is predicting 17 total named storms, which are two more than the 1991-2020 average; eight hurricanes, which is one more than the 1991-2020 average; and four major (category 3 or higher) hurricanes, which is one more than the 1991-2020 average, reports.”

So it seemed like a good time for our team member to once again call on another of her hurricane memories, growing up on the Gulf Coast. We heard about her first – extraordinarily memorable – childhood experience with Hurricane Carla in “The ‘Hurricane Diaries’ – Part I & Part II” and now she’s sharing one of her storm “adventures” from her early years as a working journalist in suburban Houston:

“I had recently moved from a part-time ‘student’ position to a full-time, full-fledged, staff member of ‘The Deer Park Progress’ newspaper – one of a group of weekly suburban papers owned by a Texas publishing family. Incidentally, one brother owned all of the weeklies and biweeklies, and the other brother owned all of the daily Hartman newspapers. So for a novice journalist, this seemed like a great launch pad for what I knew would be my illustrious career. Yeah, we were all once young and naïve!

“Anyway, as the newly-minted Assistant News Editor, I was filled with zeal and ready to handle whatever was thrown my direction…to both prove my journalistic worth and earn that future Pulitzer Prize! So when Hurricane Allen blew into the Corpus Christi area, it put the Galveston Bay area (in which both my hometown of La Porte and my newspaper ‘beat’ of neighboring Deer Park) squarely in the path of the northwest ‘whiplash’ I had heard about since preschool.

“And after a rather ‘interesting’ night in my ‘grown-up’ two-story townhome apartment in nearby Pasadena, Texas – with my parents (who had evacuated from their bayfront home prone to flooded roads used for ingress and egress) AND my now live-in boyfriend (who attended law school at our mutual alma mater, the University of Houston, but my parents had ASSUMED still lived with his parents in Katy) – I was quite eager to report for work the next morning!

“And so I set out for the newspaper office, trying to navigate around all of the damage en route, and stopping to document the most striking images of Allen’s handiwork. I had learned well from an early instructor to ALWAYS have my reporter’s notebook, camera and film on-hand. Maybe THAT’S why the entire back seat of my car always looked like a combination of a rolling office, newspaper archive library and the place takeout containers and wrappers went to die?

“Downed trees, roofs blown completely askew on homes and businesses alike, recreational boats strewn on front lawns, and surreal images of entire walls missing from buildings, provided plenty of fodder for my 35mm Pentax camera. No stranger to this type of landscape, I carefully crawled through back streets and around obstacles in an effort to make it to the office. Remember, cell phones were still the stuff of James Bond and space age TV shows, back then. As a result, any smart reporter ALSO made sure to have plenty of change for pay phones in their ever-ready arsenal.

“So, in addition to trying to drive through hurricane flotsam and jetsam, I was also looking for a working pay phone! Yeah, I know, it’s a pretty laughable scene…especially decades later.

“More than two-and-a-half hours later, for what was normally a 15 minute drive (even with school zones), I was within a few short blocks from the Progress office. And THAT’S when it happened!”

We’ll pick up her story in the next installment post, to see what happens in this adventure. But, in the meantime, this picture she paints of the devastation hurricane-force winds can cause. Never underestimate the damage something as simple as an ordinary garbage can lid can do, when traveling over 65 miles per hour…let alone something MUCH larger!

NOW is the time to start planning for the upcoming season, and make sure you have the 24/7 number for SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio handy. Not only do we handle flood and rising water damage, but our expert team is also equipped to handle major storm damage caused by winds, as well. So in this upcoming hurricane season, if you find yourself with your OWN entry in The “Hurricane Diaries” then know we’re just a phone call away and ready to make it “Like it never even happened.”

The “Hurricane Diaries” – Part IV

4/14/2021 (Permalink)

Once you’ve seen buildings gutted and boats sitting in parking lots, it’s impossible to deny the power of a hurricane! They say “rising tides lift all boats” but mix those flood-level tides with 100+ mph hurricane-force winds & you get more than metaphors to deal with!

With the start of the annual Atlantic hurricane season just around the corner – that’s right, the first of June is less than SIX WEEKS AWAY – now is the time to start your preparations and planning, in case the worst-case scenario happens. And anyone who has spent time along the Gulf Coast knows exactly how bad that can be!

For those uninitiated into life in coastal regions during storm season, one of our team members spent her entire childhood, and many of her adult years, working and living through some of the truly epic hurricanes. For those who have never seen first-hand what really happens when a hurricane hits, she shared in her first two “Hurricane Diaries” entries those first memories (as an impressionable kindergartner), of when Hurricane Carla hit her hometown.

Fast forward almost two decades, as she began her career working for local newspapers, when she had the chance to experience the aftermath of another record-breaking storm – Hurricane Allen – from both a personal and journalistic perspective. She set the stage in her most recent entry, “The ‘Hurricane Diaries’ – Part III” and left us with something of a cliffhanger as she was trying to report for duty at her newspaper. So let’s see what happened NEXT:

“As I mentioned, after literally spending hours to travel less than 20 miles, I was within ‘spitting distance’ (gotta love those Southern colloquialisms!) of reaching my office, when fate and Hurricane Allen intervened!

“A downed tree (in full leaf, no less) had left a path on the side street where I was slowly traveling, but – I quickly found out – had ALSO completely obscured a bent stop sign. By the time I saw it, both my slightly water-logged brakes, and the brakes of the unfortunate vehicle coming up from the cross street, failed to stop the inevitable collision.

“Sadly, this was not my first post-college car – a little blue 1972 used Toyota Celica that I had paid $750 to acquire. OH NOOOO…it was my shiny new sporty red Pontiac Sunbird, which had just gotten its ‘official’ metal license plates that very week from the dealer!

“On the plus side, it was quickly and easily ruled a ‘no-fault’ situation by the local police so with no major injuries and vehicles that were able to drive, we each went on our way. And that’s how I finally arrived at the paper...dented brand new car and a knot the size of a lemon (and color of a pomegranate) on my forehead.

“However, dedicated journalists that we were, we worked throughout the day, as power and information were available and my family doctor told me via phone to advise several of my close staff member friends to watch me for signs of a concussion. To this day, I don’t know for sure whether or not I had actually sustained a concussion in the collision, but I DO know it was one heck of a headache that lasted long into that evening!

“And for this effort and dedication, my reporting and photos of local Hurricane Allen won several area and state journalism awards later that year. And – because nobody went into journalism for the money – my little ‘Rosie’ car wore that driver-side rear panel dent as a journalistic badge of honor for a number of years.

“Yet, I must give credit where credit is due, as I took a page from my college photojournalism mentor’s teachings. I remembered that people were the KEY component of true visual journalism. So I not only photographed ‘damage’ but also the resiliency of these Gulf Coast hurricane veterans and novices, alike, and documented their journey to recovery. I still firmly believe this combination of both the ‘bitter’ and ‘sweet’ accounted for those awards!

“This time spent with those victims brought to mind earlier days with my parents…both preparing for an incoming storm, as well as cleaning up the aftermath. Seeing the level of damage hurricane-force winds could inflict gave me a whole new level of respect for my Daddy, with his carefully measured, cut and labeled plywood panels for each of our home’s windows.

“At the beginning of every summer, he would bring this cache of supplies down from his workshop attic rafters and inspect each one to ensure it would be ready when the next hurricane threatened to blow into town. And, for EVERY home where we lived all along the Gulf Coast – from Alabama to Texas – one of the first things my Daddy always did was to create properly measured and cut window boards customized for that particular residence. Let me just say, Hurricane Allen gave me a newfound appreciation for his diligence!

“And seeing people not only trying to salvage their possessions but also struggling to secure their wind and water damaged properties, now gives me ADDED respect for the work and skills I’ve seen from our SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio team. Knowing that EXPERT help is just a phone call away, gives me an added layer of ‘peace of mind’ and instills me with the same sense of pride I experienced when I won those awards for hurricane coverage!”

Fortunately, here in the San Antonio metro area we rarely have to deal with the frontline effects of a hurricane landfall. However, we ALSO know that torrential rains and gale-force winds moving inland can still pack a SERIOUS punch…which is why SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio should also be included in YOUR disaster plans and preparations!

Pandemic + Polar + Pipes = Pandemonium!

3/29/2021 (Permalink)

When frigid temps meet any surface pipes, the results are rarely good! Take unprecedented freezing temps, combine with quarantines, then add in buildings not designed for this weather, and you have a recipe for disaster!

Recently, we discussed the “SERVPRO Way” of handling disasters…highlighting the company’s nationwide mobilization to answer an SOS from Texas in the wake of the unprecedented polar wave. And this impressive response allowed us to bring a degree of normalcy back to affected families and businesses.

However, this particular natural disaster carried with it an ADDITIONAL variable unlike any other – COVID pandemic lockdowns and quarantines! People who would have normally sought refuge elsewhere found themselves “stuck” in their frigid homes, without heat or running water, and ill-prepared for these temperatures. Businesses with heavy traffic in “pre-lockdown” times, had been shuttered for days (or weeks) on end and as a result did not realize their freezing properties had burst pipes…compounding the damage.

We saw the photos, and heard the statistics, but aside from a few of the extreme instances featured on newscasts, it can be difficult to put a personal “face” to these reports – unless it happens to YOU!

Once again, our staff member who wrote about her hurricane recollections in Hurricane Diaries – Part I & Part II” – just happened to have a “frozen pipes” experience. Fortunately, her home escaped this fate last month here in Texas. But, she had one VERY memorable Christmas morning years ago in the horse country of Lexington, KY.

“We had recently moved from a townhome near the metro area of Lexington, KY to a sprawling cedar and stone home situated on five acres, located between two horse farms. We wanted more room for our growing young son to be able to play outdoors…and having Kentucky-bred thoroughbreds come visit us at the fences around our property was just an added bonus.

“After getting settled in during the breathtaking fall months – surrounded by the legendary ‘blue grass’ and dazzling array of autumnal colors – we prepared for our first Christmas in this picture-perfect home. A full two-story vaulted ceiling in the living room allowed us to have a truly majestic (and BIG) tree, next to the stone fireplace and visible from the rural pike (roadway) through the expansive front windows. In hindsight, we SHOULD have photographed this scene for the following year’s holiday card!

“Excitedly, we prepared for our son’s first “real” Christmas, since he was only seven weeks old the year before. And, after the Christmas Eve rituals, we put our boy to bed – with visions of sugar plums dancing in his head – then set about the extensive work of being busy Santa’s Helpers.

“Apparently, the ‘early-riser’ gene tends to skip a generation, and our son got it! So we set our alarm to make sure we were up before him and fell asleep to the scene of gently falling snow on the moonlit landscape.

“Spurred by the blaring alarm the following morning, my husband stumbled downstairs for his lifeblood – coffee – and noticed the power to his beloved coffeemaker was off. So, he went into the garage to flip the breaker…and stepped down into shin-deep ICY water!

“I heard bellowing and some DISTINCTLY ‘non-Christmas’ language! Apparently, the ‘below-the-freeze-line’ pipes we had become accustomed to in Missouri, Michigan and Ohio were NOT a ‘thing’ in this part of Kentucky. And, just like what we recently experienced in Texas, this area was not equipped for this type of weather extreme.

“Overnight, the ‘gentle’ snow had picked up volume and the temps had dropped down to the single digits and were steadily dropping below zero. My husband discovered the interior water cut-off was not stopping the flow, so there he was – in his holiday pajamas and fuzzy slippers – running out the front door and frantically digging in a foot of snow to locate the main water cut-off valve!

“So there we were, with no power or water on Christmas morning. Yes, in retrospect, I realize this sounds like something out of a wacky sitcom – and looking back, it really kind of was!

“Luckily, we still had our massive fireplace (along with an ample supply of firewood) and a good relationship with a local plumber. And, since snow and ice were not unknown commodities to local utilities, we had power restored by the next morning. Unlike some of our rural neighbors, we escaped any major damage since the burst pipe flooding was limited to the garage concrete floor. I was never so glad we had unpacked and moved everything into the house before Christmas…and would NEVER curse that steep step up from the garage into the kitchen back door!

“Of course, the clean-up involved LOTS of fans – after the temperatures rose – and some drywall replacement, along with new INSULATED pipes. However, after going through even that ‘minor’ pipe burst experience, I can genuinely sympathize with the effects of this ‘polar pandemonium’ my friends and neighbors had to experience!”

And although some of our local SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio did NOT escape the impact of this recent weather – and we will share another personal story in an upcoming post – it was nice to be able to jump in and help not only our wider community (taking an abundance of COVID-safe precautions) but our own SERVPRO family, as well!

When Is “Stormy Weather”…NOT?!?

9/23/2020 (Permalink)

It’s your responsibility as a homeowner, building owner or tenant to make sure you have the coverage you NEED! A little due diligence can go a LONG way to covering you when the bills for “Storm Damage” come due!

With this particularly active tropical storm season, wildfires raging on the West Coast and earthquakes and tornadoes still a concern for many, insurance coverage almost certainly has become top-of-mind for property owners and tenants, alike. However, every day across America too many people discover their particular disaster has left them without the insurance coverage they THOUGHT they had!

NOW – before we go any further – we want to emphasize we are NOT insurance agents, brokers or industry experts! We’re just a team who deals with personal catastrophes every day, and have managed to pick up some “on-the-job” knowledge…knowledge which may be valuable to you either now OR in the future.

Which brings us to the whole idea of “Storm Damage” – YES, we do restoration and remediation for storm damage, and have years of experience dealing with most anything Mother Nature can dish out. But, do YOU know what “storm damage” actually means?!? It just may come as quite a surprise! 

One insurance authority gave a pretty concise definition, in laymen’s terms (because honestly, no one wants to read “insuranc-ese”) of what GENERALLY is covered under the concept of “Storm Damage”:

“Storm damage is the destructive result of weather-related events. It can include damage to the exterior of your home, such as your roof shingles blowing off after a windstorm, or the siding of your home being dented from hail. Storm damage may even affect the interior of your home, like power surge damage from a lightning strike…Storm damage insurance isn’t its own policy — it’s part of your homeowners policy.

“Typically wind or tornadoes, wildfire, ice storms, fallen trees and lightning strikes have a certain level of coverage as part of a standard policy. Make sure you understand the types of storms that are covered by your specific policy before a disaster rather than after…Usually flood and earthquakes are excluded by your standard policy.”

AGAIN, we are not recommending one carrier or type of policy over another…it’s just like panty hose, “one size” does NOT “fit all!” We just want you to be an informed consumer, and insurance coverages and legal parameters literally vary from state to state. For instance, folks along the Gulf Coast diligently write those extra checks every year for rising water and flood coverage. On the West Coast – where earthquakes, mudslides and wildfires occur all too frequently – residents, business owners and leasees MAY need an entirely separate policy to cover these “acts of God” which might normally be covered in areas where they are NOT common.

And, let’s not forget “Sheryl’s She-Shed” – the commercial that went viral! But, if you recall, Sheryl’s first call was to her insurance agent to make sure it was covered. It may come as a shock to some residents to discover their “casitas”…”she-sheds”…and “backyard man caves” are NOT covered under their “standard” policy.

Apparently, Sheryl’s husband and agent ensured that only was her oasis covered, but at “replacement cost” instead of just their initial investment. Your “vintage” kitchen stove damaged by a storm may only fetch a few dollars of reimbursement without that replacement coverage. The same holds true for those who carry renter’s insurance. Your now-water-soaked sofa, depreciated over five years, may only yield enough for a futon in today’s dollars.

It’s not JUST about “replacement,” either. Of course you want to make sure that element is part of your insurance package. But don’t forget the all-important step BETWEEN “disaster” and “shopping” – RESTORATION! Whether it’s a fire from a freak lightning strike or a flash flood from an unexpected rain storm – which, by the way, some “storm” definitions ONLY include “Named Storms” in their hurricane-related coverage – you still need experts to assess the true damage and take the proper steps to restore the environment for all your shiny new replacement possessions. 

Fortunately, the team at SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio has the knowledge, on-going training in the latest technology and techniques, specialized equipment and a healthy dose of compassion to bring to any disaster scene! As we’ve learned, the MOST important part is to be prepared BEFORE any “storm” strikes. And knowledge of what IS and what ISN’T covered in your life gives you the BEST weapon to deal with whatever nature throws your direction!

The “Hurricane Diaries” – Part II

9/23/2020 (Permalink)

A not-uncommon view of the damage along any shoreline in the aftermath of a major tropical storm Just one example of the “landscape” a 5½-year-old saw after Hurricane Carla hit her hometown!

Once more, the residents of the Texas Gulf Coast find themselves up to their waders in the remnants of yet ANOTHER named storm this year. Who could have ever imagined we’d actually run out of names by mid-September and have moved into Greek territory?!? Guess it’s just another of the squares on our 2020 Bingo cards!

So, it seemed appropriate to once again turn over the blog to our staff member, Debbie, for another of the entries in her “Hurricane Diaries.” When we last left her recollections, her family had just returned home in the aftermath of legendary Hurricane Carla and THIS was when the five-and-a-half year old began to understand WHY everyone had made such a big deal about “another hurricane.”

“As I mentioned before, in 1961 La Porte, Texas was the quintessential ‘small town’ – which just happened to be in the shadow of the one of THE fastest-growing cities in the United States. I remember the population signs marking each of the city limits, being somewhere in the low 3000s, and the MAJOR milestone years later when we finally exceeded five thousand people!

“Although my family did not live within the city limits of either La Porte, or any of the neighboring bedroom communities of Lomax, Shoreacres or Morgan’s Point, you could drive from one end of the entire ‘developed’ area to the other in less than 20 minutes – except through Shoreacres, a well-known speed trap among the local teens and lead-footed adults! So even on a ‘busy’ day, we could be from our driveway to the downtown school, library, movie theater or church parking lot in under 10 minutes.

“But, on THIS morning, it was a drive like I had never experienced. Pieces of homes, furniture, cars, trees and power line poles were strewn across even the ‘major’ thoroughfares. The familiar landscape I had known so well, no longer existed. Carla had transformed my picturesque hometown and left desolation and destruction in her wake. I was numb…and pretty sure at several points my mother told me to close my dropped jaw.

“However, even the torn-away roofing on our grocery store, hardware store and bowling alley could not prepare me for what I saw as we drove further down Old Hwy. 146 closer toward the suburban bayfront south of town – AND our home.

“I discussed earlier the devastation of many of our neighbors’ homes. But that just scratched the surface of the storm damage. Imagine driving down a decent-sized main road, then suddenly seeing a 24’ cabin cruiser with twin inboard engines SITTING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE HIGHWAY! And we’re not talking tipped over in a ditch to the side. No siree, we’re talking spread broadside – perfectly upright on its keel – across the entire two-lane blacktop, with sails akimbo and some lodged in treetops.

“That can leave some indelible memories in the sponge-like brain of a youngster. Now, add a drive past the local boating club – the loftily-named Houston Yacht Club (but, as the OLDEST yacht club in the state of Texas, I guess they did have the right to put on some ‘airs’) – and seeing literal STACKS of craft one on top of the other, like a giant nautical Jenga game. Mind blown!

“First row bayfront homes now offered full water views FROM THE STREET. But probably the most bizarre sight I think I saw that day, was our neighbor’s classic Jaguar, MG, Triumph and Sunbeam finely-restored motorcars PERCHED IN TREES like a murder of crows! Between that, and the boats of all shapes and sizes – along with their equipment, rigging and sails – littering front yards, I gained a true understanding of a hurricane’s power that day.

“It’s no wonder I grew up to be a storm-chasing journalist on the Gulf Coast…something we might explore in a future diary entry! But it also gave me genuine empathy for anyone who had ever sustained any type of storm damage. Even though it may not be a classic MGA in a tree, ALL damage caused by major tropical storms is literally life-altering. In addition to this insight, I also walked into the wake of any storm with a MORE-THAN-HEALTHY respect for both the storm and those who feel the effects of its power.

“Somehow, it’s different when the nice lady who always has fresh cookies now must spread her clothes, her rugs, her draperies – basically, her LIFE – across her front lawn. You understand the real pain of the affable neighborhood doctor who now has a tree where the entire center of his home used to be. You tear-up when you see rows upon rows of pylons sticking out of the water, where neighborhood piers once hosted regular gatherings and formed the social nucleus of our little enclave.

“Those two little words ‘storm damage’ honestly seem insufficient to convey EXACTLY what this can entail. But to their credit, each one of our neighbors went through the laborious task of salvaging their lives and rebuilding their American Dream. Although this did not happen overnight, and involved a fair amount of insurance ‘discussion’ since this was BEFORE the time of federally-subsidized flood coverage, it nonetheless offered an honest insight into the indomitable nature of the human spirit…with a little (OR LOT) of help from our friends!

“I guess that’s one of the things I remember most – everyone helping, everyone pitching-in – and as a part of that effort, now I can REALLY appreciate the skills and equipment at our disposal here at SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio, to mitigate the damage of any storm, of any magnitude! Who knows, maybe it was experiences just like these from my childhood that were the impetus for the original founding of that first SERVPRO back in 1967…just a few short years after Carla. Hmmmm? Just a thought!”

So as this same area from Debbie’s most recent “Diary” entry again now faces the destruction and mayhem of even a “minor” hurricane like Beta, we have a bit more insight into both the physical AND emotional devastation it can leave in its path. As Debbie has demonstrated, for us it’s REAL…we take EVERY situation to heart…we honestly CARE about these lives…and ALWAYS stand ready to lend a helping hand!

Stormy Weather On The Way? SERVPRO Is The Calm AFTER The Storm!

8/27/2020 (Permalink)

Post-storm restoration and remediation We're ready to help you restore the "calm" after any your home, business and life!

We've all heard about "the calm before the storm" – and anyone who has ever weathered a tropical storm or hurricane can attest to the fact there's certainly no "calm" AFTERWARD! That is, unless we're talking about the stunned silence of those surveying the post-storm devastation.

And, with Hurricane Laura gaining strength and intensity by the hour, weather forecasters desperately try to predict its path. Meanwhile, potentially-affected residents and business owners find themselves preparing for the worst...and hoping for the best. Which experience tells us, is ANYTHING but "calm!"

Probably the most frustrating part of these "pre-storm" activities (aside from actually finding the supplies you may need), is the "not-knowing" of the whole situation. Will it, or won't it? And, if it DOES, how bad will it be?!? Honestly, does any part of this sound "calm?"

So, having pretty much seen it ALL, at SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio our team thinks of itself as the "calm" AFTER the storm – when it's REALLY needed! When facing the aftermath of any natural disaster, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, even unsure of where to start. Combined with possible infrastructure damage, such as no electricity or potable water, streets flooded or blocked with debris, and lack of emergency services diverted to more critical situations, you could feel paralyzed.

Fortunately, as storm recovery experts – on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year – your caring neighbors at SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio have the training, equipment and experience to come to the rescue! No situation proves too daunting for our team. Believe us when we say, we’ve seen it ALL…from flooded homes, to post-storm mold, and everything in between.

That’s why it’s nice to not only have someone who can help you navigate the recovery process, but a company who genuinely CARES about you, your family, your property, AND your peace of mind! After all, not everyone can say it’s "Like it never even happened," and have the expertise to actually mean it! So, whether you’re currently staring down the barrel at Hurricane Laura, or find yourself having to deal with some future storm damage, you now know who to call to help you find that “calm” AFTER the storm.

Watch Out For Mother Nature!

4/16/2020 (Permalink)

We're open SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio is open and ready for you!

Mother Nature does not discriminate. She doesn’t care if you’re rich or poor, tall or short. If you’re in her way watch out!

This is the feeling we have when weather affects our homes and businesses. SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio has been in business for 20 years and we’ve seen our share of storms. From Guadalupe/Comal River floods, to hurricanes and Polar Vortex’s we’ve been in the middle of restoring homes and buildings and people’s lives.

Understanding the nature of storm work is essential in delivering a good service. The customer, the victim from the storm, wants you and your team rolling in after the storm has passed, waters recede and roads are reopened. Getting to the job prepared is the core of the work. Hiring team members with a “servant's heart” is paramount to getting lives restored.

Many storms don’t happen close to home. SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio has the ability to travel to storm sites and help those in need. Our team will be separated from their families for weeks to bring Home back to our customer’s. Working with insurance carriers to give them the correct and accurate information digitally is also a benefit. Having the national brand of SERVPRO brings added comfort to our customers. They know they will be well taken care of and supported by a Fortune 500 company.

When the storm arrives in your life, remember, call SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio.


2016 San Antonio Hail Storm

4/15/2020 (Permalink)

Huge hail Record size hail in San Antonio, Texas

On April 12, 2016 the San Antonio area was hit with a catastrophic wind and hail storm. The storm was not forecasted and caught the entire city off guard. In the days to follow SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio was called out on 416 calls resulting from the storm. Damages to properties varied from normal hail damage to roofs, to fallen trees damaging homes and buildings to flooded homes and broken sky lights. 

Our crews worked around the clock for 2 weeks without a day off, boarding up roofs and windows, drying out homes and buildings and general clean up. The scope of the storm was immense. The storm cut through the middle of San Antonio and stretched miles wide. Damage was seen from the very southern most parts of Bexar County all the way to The Texas Hill Country.

The aftermath of the storm turned out to be the largest storm event for insurance carriers with the exclusion of a hurricane. For years after the storm, properties are still being repaired and worked on. Occasionally, you will still see a blue tarp covering a roof as a reminder of the storms devastation.

In a storm event, SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio is able to remove all the debris, demo what is necessary, clean the structure, and dry it properly with all the documentation so that the homeowner can have peace of mind that it was done correctly.

This unique storm hit close to home for us. We  helped our friends and neighbors in their time of need. SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio was also a source of consultation to give guidance and support to those going through a trying time.

San Antonio and South Texas is our home, and we are here to help our neighbors should a storm event occur. We are just a phone call away.


SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio helping 2018 Lake LBJ flooding

3/31/2020 (Permalink)

Structure Drying Following the cleaning, the drying process begins.

In October, 2018, central Texas endured heavy rainfall which caused tremendous flooding along the Colorado River and Lake LBJ.  As we are locally owned, our neighbors started getting word to head to their lakehouse and lift their boats before the water began rising.  

By that Tuesday morning, many of our friends were able to prepare their homes, but many were not so lucky.

Once the area was safe to return to, SERVPRO's owners, Greg and Tammie Hall, started to visit the homes they were called out to.  

One area along the Colorado River was impacted greatly.  There is a condominium complex that took the brunt of the flooding.  SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio was able to come into that area and work in several of the condos.  This was a team effort.  Our entire staff wanted to help.  Everything was needed from shoveling out sludge from the lake to providing sandwiches and lunch to the homeowners and volunteers.  

Many of the condo owners worked with SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio, but a few tried to do it themselves.  Those that attempted to handle it themselves ended up asking for help from SERVPRO once they saw the level of cleaning that was provided.  The dedication and work ethic of our staff was outstanding.  

In a storm event, SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio is able to remove all the debris, demo what's necessary, clean the structure, and dry it properly with all the documentation so that the homeowner can have peace of mind that it was done correctly.

This unique storm hit close to home for us.  We helped our friends and neighbors in their time of need.  SERVPRO of Northwest San Antonio was also a source of consultation to give guidance and support to those going through a trying time.

San Antonio and South Texas is our home, and we are here to help our neighbors should a storm event occur.  We are just a phone call away.