When Hurricane Florence hit our area with record rainfall, 100+ mph winds, and spurned tornadoes, most of you had left the area. When you returned home you may have noticed a few shingles missing, maybe a piece of siding gone, etc., and you thought you had escaped serious damage. You possibly even filed a claim with your insurance company just to be sure. The adjuster came out to inspect your home and or business and maybe your insurance company has even sent you a check along with a breakdown of how much they determined you have in damage. All is good, right? I’m sorry to say, not necessarily.
My wife and I just returned to the area on the first of November and rented the top half of a local beach house for a week. Before we booked, we asked the property manager if there was damage to the home. He said there were a few shingles missing, but the house was basically unharmed. He had actually found the shingles and had them put back on, and the place was in great shape. All was good.
We walked in ready for a nice stay on the beach in a very cozy cottage and immediately knew this house had some serious issues. At first glance it looked great, but we are trained to notice the damage. I looked up, and there was separation above the windows, traces of mold around the air vent, and areas where the tape was separating from the drywall on the ceiling. These are all signs of hidden damage. These symptoms may not show up right away, but they start occurring after the water sits inside the walls and ceiling for a period of time. Unfortunately, it will only get worse.
This house already has mold that is taking hold. There was only a tiny bit of mold showing on the ceiling next to this air vent. Twelve hours later, it was appearing on the front of the cover. I took out our thermo imaging camera and verified that there is hidden water throughout the house. The areas in blue indicate wet areas. The room looked normal, but there was definitely water sitting in the insulation. I took similar pictures in almost every room of this house. Did the property manager do anything wrong? No, but you don’t know what you don’t know.
Unfortunately, this house is typical of what we are seeing in houses in the area. The wind driven rain came in at an angle, and water got into the structure of the homes. The problem is it can’t be seen by the naked eye, and you most likely aren’t trained to find the damage or have the tools to do so. Think of hidden water as a cancer in your home. It may look fine on the outside, but it is sick. NOW is the time to get it treated.
Now is when you can file an insurance claim because the damage was caused by the storm. If you wait for months, the insurance company may question when the damage occurred, and that can seriously affect how you are covered. Insurance policies cover storm damage differently than they cover mold damage. Now is when we can bring your adjuster back out to see that the damage was more extensive than it first appeared. Now is when you can start the mitigation so the repairs can be started more quickly.
If you suspect you may have hidden damage get it checked out by a qualified restoration professional with the tools and the experience to give you an accurate analysis of your home or building. Hopefully, they will tell you it is fine, but if not, they can help your home get on the road to recovery.