The past two months have been a series of unfortunate natural disasters that have wreaked havoc on North America. From fires and earthquakes to three hurricanes making landfall less than a month apart, there has been extreme physical damage to business properties.
It is estimated that Hurricanes Harvey and Irma alone caused $200 billion in total damage and recovery work, with much of that coming from commercial losses. This includes lost revenue from business interruption such as power outages or the inability for customers to reach the storefront, to physical damage to the building and inventory. According to Reuters, there were only 264,681 non-residential flood policies held through FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Policy as of June 2017 leaving millions of small businesses without much or any coverage for water damage to their property.
Water damage is particularly devastating because it can creep into every crevice and corner leaving nothing below the waterline safe. A company should first document all damage using photos for future insurance claims, and then begin with clean up, draining stagnant water and discarding items damaged beyond repair. Hiring outside companies and contractors to help get the business up and running as quickly and safely as possible is also a consideration to make.
Rescuing Damaged Inventory
Polygon, for example, is a commercial drying company with a division that specializes in document restoration with a fully trained team to salvage organizations’ valuable books, corporate documents, medical records, blueprints, film, X-rays, even electronic media with our patent-pending desiccant air-dry distribution system. This system effectively removes moisture from any environment, allowing water molecules trapped in your documents and damaged items to escape into the air. Another exceptional tool available is the vacuum-freeze drying process. This process helps return your materials as close to their original state as possible. The vacuum method also produces better results than other available options due to the superior pressure distribution technology used.
One week after the flooding in Houston, a team was on site to provide drying Equipment and services to commercial clients and restoration partners to get the community back to normal. Polygon’s staff has rescued important documents from many agencies and companies to be transported to one of the document drying centers for the restoration process. All over Houston and areas of Florida, Polygon’s equipment is staged at the foot of large buildings, busy reducing humidity and controlling the climate in below-ground floors where the water has destroyed all electrical and HVAC systems.
Restoring the storefront
When it comes to the office or storefront, many businesses want to return to full function as soon as possible to bring customers and cash flow back through their doors. However, there are some health concerns they should take notice of before jumping into the swing of things.
Mold growth is imminent and can cause serious health concerns if not handled quickly. Inhaling mold spores can cause coughing and wheezing, irritation to the nose and throat, and enhance asthma and other respiratory issues for those already living with them. For major water damage from hurricane flooding, it is suggested to hire a qualified disaster restoration company to ensure all mold spores are eliminated.
Another health concern during the restoration process is asbestos exposure. Many times flooring must be ripped up and walls must be removed up to the water line because of extensive water damage. Unless a professional is hired, people might not think about the potential of coming across asbestos that can cause health issues like mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer. If the building was constructed before the 1980s, and the presence of asbestos is suspected, a professional asbestos abator is the only person qualified to test and remove the problem safely.
It is essential for business owners to get up and running again as quickly as possible following a natural disaster. However, it is equally important to think about saving inventory and making repairs in the best, healthiest, most efficient way. The long hours and hard work to support organizations impacted by these events are grueling, but rewarding to bring life back to these troubled areas.
About the Author:
Emily Walsh is the Community Outreach Director at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. Through her work, Emily is dedicated to raising awareness about asbestos and the associated health issues, as well as advocating for a full ban on the material in the U.S.