News Column

Sandy Delivers Business to Home Restorers

Nov. 6, 2012

Tim O'Brien

The damage wrought by Hurricane Sandy is flooding more than homes.

Capital Region companies that specialize in restoring damaged properties are being swamped with business, as the demand from downstate is greatly exceeding the supply of contractors.

Travis Bennett, owner of Bennett Restoration in Castleton, is in Mystic Island, N.J., with his four-man crew. After 13 years in the restoration business, he started his own company two years ago.

He was contacted by his wife's co-worker to help that person's mother recover from the storm in New Jersey. Once down there, he said, he has steadily worked on similarly damaged properties.

"We have a few jobs down here," he said. "There are tens of thousands of houses that are damaged."

Homes there had 3 feet of ocean water inside, he said, and they need to have the carpets stripped, Sheetrock torn down and mold removed.

"Places have to be gutted to about 18 inches beyond the flood line," he said.

Bennett said he expects to come back to the Capital Region for some jobs, then travel between here and the storm-damaged region.

Matthew Justin, owner of a Rainbow International franchise in Saratoga Springs, said he has two weeks worth of commitments in the Capital Region. Once he can free up a truck, he plans to assign a crew to Long Island or New Jersey for a month.

"I am going to send a truck and three guys down," he said. "We'll go down there with all our equipment and probably dry 100 or so houses."

He said his year-old company has partnerships with franchises in New Jersey and Long Island, and they coordinate when disaster strikes.

"Right now it's insane," he said. "I just spoke with a Rainbow out of New Jersey. They have so much work right now, they don't know what to do."

Normally, if a house is flooded and his firm can get in right away, Justin said it is possible to dry it within 72 hours and salvage the home. With so many houses damaged, mold can begin to grow and houses may have to be gutted.

"It's going to be a long process," he said, "but we're going to down there to help out as many people as I can."

Dave Johnson, owner and president of Professional Fire Restoration Services in Colonie, said he, too, will be sending employees downstate. His 30-year-old business employs some 40 people.

"I am getting phone calls," he said. "The state's been calling me because I do a lot of state jobs."

Johnson said it will be some time before he sends a crew. With power still out in the hardest-hit areas, he said, restoration work cannot begin there. He does not know how many people he will send until more is known about when the work can start.

Doug Comer, owner of a Paul Davis Restoration franchise in Ballston Spa, said he isn't sending any of his workers, but other franchises in the 250-office chain are.

"We are relatively busy as we speak," he said. "Certainly there is an endless demand down there."

But Comer said he sees the email blasts from other franchises in the chain, and many companies cannot get to work yet anyway. Insurance claims are not yet settled, he said, so people may not yet have the money to start repairs.

"There are so many unknowns," he said. "You can't even drive to some of the places because there is sand covering the roads."

How to Help

Want to help out victims of Sandy? Here's how:

The Red Cross is accepting donations at www.redcross.org and by phone at 1-800-REDCROSS. A donation of $10 can also be made by texting "redcross" to 90999.

The Red Cross is hosting dozens of local blood drives. Find the nearest at www.redcrossblood.org. Type your ZIP code into the box marked "Your Local Region."

The Salvation Army accepts donations at www.salvationarmyusa.org. Donate used goods to local Salvation Army branches.

New York state MLS is looking for real estate agents in the tri-state area to send lists of homes or apartments available for short-term housing. Call (888) 769-7657 for an appointment, or visit www.NYStateMLS.com. A list will be published on that site.

Compiled by Bryan Fitzgerald

Distributed by MCT Information Services



Source: (c) 2012 Times Union (Albany, N.Y.)


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