Roofers deluged with calls after Hurricane Ida; ‘Try touching base in about a month’ | Hurricane Center
When Kirt Schellhaas returned to his home in Kenner two weeks after his evacuation to Texas for Hurricane Ida, he had to use his full body weight to force the front door. It was blocked by drywall hanging from the collapsed ceiling.
Half of his roof had been blown off, allowing water to flow into his home in Cannes Place. Ceilings in the foyer, dining room and one bedroom had collapsed. Mold covered the walls.
But what took Ida just hours to destroy August 29 will take much longer to fix.
Six weeks after the storm, Schellhaas is one of many in Louisiana still waiting for a new roof or other major repairs. Demand far exceeds the availability of contractors, despite an influx of companies from out of town.
And some residents are bracing for a long wait. Months maybe.
“There’s no telling if we’ll even be home by Christmas,” Schellhaas said.
After the storm, shingles-strewn lawns and trees lay in houses across Ida’s path. Blue sails cover thousands of roofs. FEMA said its Blue Roof program alone had placed temporary covers on 14,580 homes as of Monday. Entire neighborhoods in harder-hit areas such as the parishes of Lafourche, St. Charles and St. John the Baptist have houses with severe damage.
Roofing companies are experiencing such high demand that some are turning away customers. American Men Roofing, based in Metairie, asked callers not to leave voicemail messages and “try to touch base in about a month.”
“Right now we are so inundated with requests that we are not taking any new calls,” the company’s voicemail said.
Jay Brigham, owner of All Around Roofing, based in Covington, said his staff is working 18 hours a day to keep up with the deluge of new roof applications. They’ve completed about 25 so far, he said.
“It hasn’t slowed down since the storm, but right after that it was absolutely mental,” Brigham said.
Brigham worked in Lake Charles after Hurricane Laura left a trail of destruction there in 2020. He said Ida has affected so many different areas that there are even more jobs this time around.
“It’s not as bad as (Laura) per se, but at the same time it’s more widespread, so there’s more work,” Brigham said.
Brigham added that the cost of labor and materials has increased by about 20%. Some materials are harder to find than usual, so “you can’t be brand specific — pick your color, that’s about it,” he said.
Brad Hassert, compliance director for the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors, said the state has received at least double the number of normal license applications needed for housing projects over $7,500.
Demand for roofers, repair work rises after Hurricane Ida hits Louisiana: ‘It’s from dawn to dusk’
With the rush for roofers, Hassert begged homeowners to be patient and make sure they find a contractor they can trust. Fraud can run amok in times of crisis, and Hassert said consumers should make sure their contractors are licensed and insured.
A list of licensed contractors can be found at: http://lacontractor.org/.
“You didn’t buy your house in a month and you probably won’t be able to fix it in a day,” Hassert said. “I realize it’s emotional, but it’s a business decision.”
His advice: wait for a licensed contractor, get project estimates, and check the contractor’s insurance coverage.
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Meanwhile, demand is likely to remain high as more customers settle their insurance claims.
Frank Montablano, a project manager and estimator for Progressive Roofing, a Metairie company that makes commercial roofs, said the number of phone calls has increased rapidly in recent weeks as commercial companies have arranged insurance.
“It’s getting busier by the day,” he says.
Work has been further delayed due to product shortages, including commercial roof insulation, fasteners, certain adhesives and certain membranes, due to a shortage of chemicals used to manufacture them, he said, noting that he has never seen a shortage of this magnitude. has seen.
Schellhaas said he is in talks with a contractor who has previously worked on the house. But the contractor doesn’t give an estimate until he sees a check from Schellhaas’s insurance company, which is yet to come.
Meanwhile, Schellhaas has spent weekends clearing out the house, which belonged to his parents when they were alive. It was a family gathering for Christmas and Thanksgiving.
“We extract memories as we take them apart,” he said. “It won’t look the same when we’re done.”