I use to be an Allstate Preferred Contractor when I lived in Connecticut. My occupation was that of a Construction Manager, hired by homeowners who had suffered fire or water damage.
Being from the North, you tend to see more fire and water damage in the winter months. This is due to the use of fireplaces that are not regularly cleaned, or water pipes that have burst, due to inadequate insulation to protect them from freezing weather.
Working in renovation construction, I have seen my fair share of damage, including the fall of Labiance Plaza in Bridgeport, Ct. Labiance Plaza was a new 9 story building under construction. The building technique being used was called a “Lift Slab” where the first slab is poured on grade, and then hydraulically lifted so another one can be poured below, and then those two are lifted, and so on.
The building collapsed with workers on almost all floors. I won’t get into specifics, you’ve seen similar images from 9/11. However I will state: the men there with me in the rescue efforts were ex military veterans, and they said they never seen anything so bad. I agreed.
Until I came to Florida after Hurricane Andrew.
I remember getting off the plane at MIA and thinking, “This ain’t so bad”. The rooftops around the airport were still intact. Some shingles appeared to be missing, but the overall appearance didn’t look like what the news had reported.
I had with me an address for a client in Homestead who needed his home redone and wasn’t able to find a local contractor. Referred to me by a mutual friend, he had offered to pay me almost double what I made in Ct., if I would just come down and get him back in his home. So I came.
I rented a car at the airport, got some general directions from the man at Avis and headed out. Before I left, the Avis guy warned me the roads were getting blocked in the area I was headed into, and that I would need to leave some time to compensate for the traffic.
Boy was he off. Traffic was the least of my concerns. Within a few minutes of leaving the airport, I found out how mistaken I had been with my first “assessment” of the damage. Sure, the airport was fine, but anything South of it was hammered.
Not only was traffic bumper to bumper on virtually any street you turned on, to make matters worse, there were no traffic signals, and no street signs! (Needless to say, I ended up being a smidge late…If you consider 2 days late a “smidge”).
During my adventure to get to my clients home, I had plenty of time to wonder why these people did not take preventive measures to better protect themselves, not just their homes, but their trees, boats, cars, RV’s etc. It was painfully obvious to me, poorly built homes wasn’t the only thing flying around the night Andrew came to town!
When I finally arrived to meet my new client, I was not surprised by what I saw. Having just spent 2 days trying to get through roads blocked with the remains of flying debris, trees, over turned cars, boats and just plain backed up traffic, I had plenty of time to look at the disastrous surroundings. His home was just one of thousands destroyed by Andrew.
After many months, I completed the clients home and he referred me to his friend, and that friend referred me to another friend….and so on. What was supposed to have been a one time job in Florida, has led to over 16 years of service here in the South Florida area.
With that said, my credentials say you can trust me on construction advice: After being in Construction, Insurance Mitigation, and a Preferred Contractor for over 30 years, I can offer these 3 pieces of advice with a certain degree of accuracy.
When it comes to a hurricane. Be Prepared. Be Prepared. Be Prepared.
To properly prepare for a Hurricane, get your Hurricane Preparation Supplies early. Tie down everything you can get a rope or strap on, including your trees, boats, cars, or whatever else you have that you can’t get inside. Do not leave anything to chance.
The power of a hurricane, whether it be a Cat 1 or 5, is beyond anything you will ever want to experience. Do not wait until the last minute to get your preparations in order.