Wolgast Restoration Blog Page

The Primary Natural Disasters Threatening Michigan Structures

Posted by Cory Sursely on Mon, Jul 06, 2020 @ 11:20 AM

Property owners of Michigan, this map, credited to redcross.org1, suggests that Michigan has insignificant threat of any natural disaster compared to all the rest of the states.  Sure, we aren’t much effected by earthquakes, although we have felt aftershocks from time to time, and it’s unlikely that we will ever have hurricane force winds hit us, but the rain and lesser significant winds of hurricanes do reach us causing damage.  Though someone looking at the map may pat themselves on the back for choosing to live in the Great State of Michigan, there are definitely natural disasters and other mayhem for which we need to be prepared.

DisasterMapAccording to michigan.gov2, Michigan’s primary natural threats include floods, thunderstorms, tornadoes, wild fires, and of course winter weather.  Knowing a few details and statistics can help us prepare for disasters, even though most disasters are completely unpredictable.

Thunderstorms are the “primary source of summer rainfall” in Michigan according to (weather-us.com)3.  They are a heavy hitter possibly bringing heavy rain, flash flooding, wind, hail, tornadoes, and/or lightning.  Each of these hazards bring their own havoc to property, which we will discuss more below.  They occur mostly from May to September.  Michigan averages 28 – 40 thunderstorms per year in the Lower Peninsula and 20 – 30 in the Upper Peninsula (michigan.gov)2. Building owners also have to be prepared for power outages during these storms.

Ninety percent of damage caused by natural disasters in the US is from a flood event (iii.org)4. There is not a “flooding season” per say, but they historically have happened in the spring and summer in Michigan.  Additionally, Michigan’s potential for early spring flooding is higher because of the thawing of winter ice and snow makes lake and river levels rise.  Floods cause damage to foundations, drywall and contents within a building, and if not cleaned or dried properly can result in microbial growth that makes inhabitants sick.

In Michigan, most tornadoes occur between April and July.  Experts have even predicted that a tornado is more likely to occur between 3PM and 7PM.  An average of 16 tornadoes occur in Michigan each year (michigan.gov)5.  Tornadoes can cause massive damage to property through heavy winds and force.  Depending on the strength of the wind a tornado can break heavy branches or uproot trees that land on a building, push mobile homes off their foundation, tear off roofs, level well-constructed walls, or lift homes off their foundation.  Power outages are prevalent during tornado storms due to tree limbs and debris falling on power lines.

Hail is common in the spring season in Michigan (weather-us.com)3.  Most Michigan counties see an average of 2 hail events per year.  Hail can cause costly property damage to roofs and siding, resulting in insurance claims and restoration construction.

Wild fires have happened historically between March and October, and most commonly “during the driest part of the year”.  More than 75% of Michigan is covered in forested land in Northern Lower Peninsula and Upper Peninsula.  We see an average of 550 minor wild fire events a year (michigan.gov)2. Most people think that lightning is the main cause of the fires, but it is actually more commonly caused by debris burning.  The Michigan.gov document “MHA 2019 Full Update Natural Hazards” discusses creating a vulnerable structure to be “Firewise” to protect it from wildfires, which includes non-flammable exterior materials and removing vegetation surrounding the building to provide a barrier from wildfire flames and ash.

Winter weather is more hazardous to automobiles and the health of individuals driving or walking/recreating in Michigan.  However, our winter weather causes damage to property through ice dams, frozen pipes and heavy snow on roofs.  The Lower Peninsula averages 90-180 days of below freezing temperatures (michigan.gov)2.  Insulating pipes near outer walls and keeping the heat above 55 can help prevent the pipes from freezing.  Flooding from frozen pipes only occurs once the pipe starts to thaw creating quite a mess causing restoration of your pipes and the water damage remediated.  Ventilating your attic will help regulate the temperature and moisture in the space to prevent ice dams and water infiltration at the roof barrier. And flatter roof styles will need to remove snow built up on their shingles to protect from the weight, ice, thaw, and damage.

DisasterScheduleThe unpredictable behavior of Mother Nature makes it difficult to prepare your structure in some cases and still live daily life, so it’s most important to have a plan to protect yourself and have phone numbers ready to call your insurance provider and restoration contractor immediately after.  It’s a good practice to have needed items ready in case the power goes out, for example: a light source, charged energy source(s), communication device(s), food, drink, and important papers in a safe place.  Call Wolgast Restoration when a disaster hits your property.

24 HOUR HOTLINE: (855) 965-4278

Sources:

1 www.redcross.org

2  https://www.michigan.gov/documents/msp/MHA_2019__full_update_natural_hazards_653708_7.pdf

3 https://www.weather-us.com/en/michigan-usa-climate?f,in,in,mi#climate_text_4

4 https://www.iii.org/article/facts-about-flood-insurance

5 https://www.michigan.gov/documents/msp-tornado_tips_8781_7.pdf

Topics: wind damage, roof damage, disaster plan, fire damage, spring floods, frozen pipes, prevention

Schools Can Alleviate Potential Problems When a Disaster Happens

Posted by Cory Sursely on Wed, Apr 17, 2013 @ 10:58 AM

 

disaster

If you’ve been unfortunate to witness what a tornado can do to a school, you know it’s the most awful thing in the world.  As a parent, sibling, aunt, uncle or grandparent you assume that your loved one is safe each day they’re at school.  Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that when bad weather hits it will pass over a school with no damage.  We’re coming into the stormy season:  Is your District prepared?

We’re pretty lucky in Michigan since we don’t need much concern for hurricanes and major flooding.  Of course, floods do happen, but not as much as a chance for straight line winds or tornadoes in Michigan.  In fact, the average number of Tornado’s touching down in Michigan is 15-21 per year.  That number was down in 2012, but history shows there really isn’t a predictor out there to say if 2013 will have more or less activity.  Michigan’s tornado season starts in April and runs through August (but has seen tornados outside these months).  Our peak season is May, June and July, thankfully, when classes aren’t typically in session.

Do you know what would be the first thing you would or should do, once the children and staff are safe and sheltered?  Facing any damage to your buildings would be easier and on target if you teamed with a professional and experienced restoration company like Wolgast Restoration.  By developing a relationship and strategy before you have an emergency would ensure the most effective, strategic, efficient way to make the decisions your District will face. 

Once you develop a Disaster Response Plan, which Wolgast Restoration can assist you with, it must be in place and managed at all times.  Some situations require immediate critical response, so having these documents ready is important for cost containment and proposed techniques in advance of implementation.  Time is always critical when a disaster strikes and having an agreed-upon course of action will alleviate potential problems.  Resources could already be in place to meet most of the demands of the situation, such as; knowledge and contact information of officials (fire marshal, school board, local building inspectors, etc.). 

Wolgast Restoration is familiar with how schools operate and insurance claims, and would work well with your insurance adjuster.  With the team formed (Wolgast Restoration, Superintendent, the District’s facilities and operations staff, local government officials, school board members, etc.), the level of communication established and all detailed documents in place YOU ARE NOW READY to handle a disaster should it happen. 

BE PREPARED AND LET WOLGAST RESTORATION HELP YOU.

Topics: wind damage, roof damage, Wolgast Restoration, structural damage, Water Damage in Schools, disaster plan

Be Prepared for After the Storm

Posted by Cory Sursely on Mon, Mar 18, 2013 @ 01:37 PM

“It happened so fast.  Thank goodness no one was hurt.”

tornado2The storm has passed.  No one was hurt.  However, the house wasn’t so lucky.  “Now what do we do?” 

First:  GET OUT OF THE HOUSE.  While your home may seem secure, in reality it may be in very unstable condition.  Carefully leave, go to a neighbor's house or safe area before making any phone calls. DO NOT try to assess any damages yourself.

Second:  Assess whether everyone who was in the home is safe and unharmed and then move forward with your next steps.  Did you follow your safety drill?  Meet up at a designated area?  Do you have a safety drill and have you practiced with your family to prepare for a disaster?  The following web site will assist you in creating a Family Emergency Plan if you don’t already have one: www.ready.gov/make-a-plan.

Third:  Contact your insurance agent as soon as possible to alert them to the damage and to start the recovery process.  They will call a restoration company, such as Wolgast Restoration, to come to your home and assess the damage and provide emergency services.  Your insurance agent will most likely either come themselves or send an adjuster to meet with you and your restoration company.

Fourth:  If you find you must leave your home, do not try and recover any necessary items if you feel your home is too unstable to safely enter.  Your homeowner’s policy should cover temporary shelter for you and your family.  (The American Red Cross, or other organizations, can be contacted to assist you with basic necessities and temporary shelter if you have no insurance.

Keep in mind that most homeowner policies have a required time frame for reporting home damages.  It is a good idea to have an itemized list of the contents in your home stored in a fire-proof box.  Even better would be video taping your household belongings.  This will help when it comes time to replace your personal belongings by identifying each specific item in detail.  Under duress, you may not be able to remember everything that was in a specific room and what may or may not have been lost.

Storms will and do happen.  Being prepared for potential disasters is the best way to alleviate the stress that comes with it. 

At Wolgast Restoration, when mayhem strikes, we strike back!

Topics: Flooding, residential, wind damage, roof damage

Does Proper Attic Ventilation Prevent Ice Dams?

Posted by Rich Droste on Wed, Jan 23, 2013 @ 04:51 PM

Every once in a while in Michigan, we are known to get low slope roof ice dam resized 600some snow.  With our varying weather and temperatures, we are at a high risk of getting ice dams.  Below are some reasons and solutions to stop Ice Dams before they start.

WHAT CAUSES ICE DAMS?

1) Warm air rising to the peak of the attic.

2) Cold air at the lower part of the roof (warm air rises), especially just above the eave where the temperature is about the same as outdoor air.

3) Heavy snow coverage of the roof.  This acts as a layer of insulation, preventing heat loss, therefore it makes it warmer in the attic.

When all 3 of these conditions happen, ice dams can form quickly.  The heat at the peak of the roof causes the snow to melt and flow to the eave.  Since it is freezing at the eave, this melted water refreezes and allows the water to backup and cause ice dams.  The damage includes gutter, fascia, landscaping and water infiltration under the shingles.  Insulation can become wet, both exterior and interior wall cavities, drywall/paint damage and mold or mildew can form.  Some extreme cases can cause ceilings to collapse.

DOES PROPER ATTIC VENTILATION PREVENT ICE DAMS?

Yes it does, especially in Michigan’s climate with snow and frigid temperatures.  But, it is also needed in the summer months to keep the attic cool.

There are two main purposes of attic ventilation; to protect against damage to your structure and to reduce energy usage.

A well ventilated attic during the warmer months helps cool the attic down.  During the winter it helps to reduce moisture to keep attics dry – which prevents ice dams and mold.

On a hot summer day, the sun hits the roof, travels through the sheathing and heats up the attic space.  This heat radiates to the attic floor and into the adjacent living areas raising the temperature.  The attic floor can have temperatures as high as 140 degrees (with only 90 degrees outside).  Not only does this cost you money in trying to cool the space, but will cause damage to the roof shingles in early deterioration down the road.  This can lead to water leaks and expensive roof repair and/or replacement.

In the winter, the warm air from the living areas transfers into the attic and if it isn’t released by ventilation, it can cause problems.  This moist air hits cooler rafters, trusses and roof sheathing causing condensation in the form of frost or droplets falling on the materials, which in turn can cause mold and rotted structures.

PRECAUTIONS TO TAKE:

1) Install proper attic ventilation.  The most efficient and effective systems use ridge vents and an evenly distributed layout of intake vents.

2) Install proper attic insulation.  It prevents heat loss from the living areas and diminishes the energy impact of having cold air flow through the attic.

3) If possible use waterproofing shingle underlayment (WSU) (snow & ice shield) at least 2’ above the interior wall line (would recommend 3’).  Valleys should be 3’ on each side of the valley center.

REMOVING ICE DAMS:

First and foremost, be safe.  Do not use an axe or ice pick as this can cause bodily injury and/or roof damage.  After a good snow fall, remove the snow off the roof with a roof rake.  Use a good rake that has wheels at the bottom of the rake to prevent roof damage. 

Our recommendation:  If it is not safe or is too hard to do, use a professional.

Topics: Water Damage, Mold, roof damage, Ice Dam