Recent Storm Damage Posts

Running Towards the Storm

10/6/2020 (Permalink)

Have you ever experienced the eerie, strange feeling when you’re coasting down the highway, the sole person driving southbound out of all four lanes, but on the northbound side, you see cars sitting bumper to bumper and wonder, “What did I just miss?”

  Here at SERVPRO, that feeling arises often, but we don’t necessarily consider it eerie. It’s just what we do. Floods, hurricanes, wildfires, and natural disasters propel us toward the storm while everyone else is leaving town, and we arrive prepared to get right to work.

  Is this easy? Absolutely not. Easy will never be an adjective used to describe our storm response work. However, is it worth it? Yes, in every aspect of the word.

  Just this year, we were able to help businesses and homes in Chicago, IL; Cleveland, OH; Philadelphia, PA; Saginaw, MI; Washington DC; Bear, DE; Cleveland, OH (again); and as of late, Orange Beach, AL and Pensacola, FL. And there are still 3 months left in the year.

  Our Vision Statement here at Team Wall is “Restore peace of mind to EVERY customer. EVERY day.” We keep this in mind every day at home, but it takes on a whole new meaning when we’re racing toward storms, getting ready to help people in need. Mother Nature, a force that’s completely out of anyone’s control, has the power to change lives overnight. Our experienced team members are sent to support those affected throughout each step of the restoration process. Every step, whether it’s demolition, drying, rebuild, or even insurance coverage and approvals, brings new challenges. Our job is to be the advocate and facilitator for our customers while they work through a life-altering event and it’s what we love to do.

  Our team that is currently responding to Hurricane Sally’s storm damage deserves a special shoutout. You are essential and we cannot even begin to thank you for your effort!

How To Prepare For Hurricane Season

8/7/2020 (Permalink)

Satellite View of a Hurricane If a storm strikes while employees are in the building, it is important that there is an emergency plan specific to your business that they can follow

As we near the end of July, we find ourselves almost two months into hurricane season in the United States, as it spans from June 1st to November 30th. It’s important to note that here on the east coast, August through October is usually the height of hurricane season. This year, we may be in store for a 50% more severe hurricane season than usual, according to a study recently published by Colorado State University. Hurricanes pose a significant threat to commercial business and small businesses in particular. So, as we approach the beginning of August, it’s critical that commercial businesses prepare and take action in order to prevent devastating hurricane damage.

Take Action Before The Storm

Many businesses have essential documents that house important information. During a hurricane, such documents have an increased risk of becoming damaged or destroyed. Keeping important documents in waterproof storage containers and making copies to keep off-site are two ways in which you can best protect essential information. Additionally, in an emergency, it is important to be able to contact employees. Because many employees may be working remotely instead of where they would normally be working, make sure that your business has updated contact information to reach them and confirm their safety during an emergency. To protect your business’ property, it may be beneficial to have your roof inspected for underlying damage so that if there are any issues, they can be resolved prior to the storm’s arrival. Additionally, purchasing storm shutters and sandbags can be useful in preventing damage from flying debris and flooding.

Have A Plan In Place

If a storm strikes while employees are in the building, it is important that there is an emergency plan specific to your business that they can follow. Put together a plan that indicates which stairwells and exits employees should use and make sure that the employees familiarize themselves with the plan. Posting copies of the plan with visuals around the building to serve as reminders can be incredibly helpful guidance during an emergency.

SERVPRO Is Here To Help

Taking these precautions can increase your business’ level of hurricane preparedness and decrease the probability of undergoing extensive storm damage, but can still bring unexpected devastation. This hurricane season, if your business succumbs to unforeseen damage due to a hurricane, look no further than SERVPRO. Our team of disaster recovery and storm damage experts are highly trained and ready to help your business return to its pre-storm condition as soon as possible.

Flash Floods: Know Your Risk

6/24/2020 (Permalink)

Large Flooded Landscape In order to protect your home, it is of the utmost importance that you know the risk of flash flooding in your area.

In just minutes, summer rain showers can become dangerous. In flash floods, water builds rapidly, pathing a path of destruction in its wake, demolishing bridges, buildings, and homes. While it can occur at any time during the year, flash flooding is common during the summer due to the higher humidity and slower jet stream. In the United States, flooding is the second deadliest weather-related event and claims an average of 81 lives per year according to NOAA. In comparison with general flooding, flash flooding can be more dangerous, as it contains the same intense force of flood water, but develops and moves quickly. In order to protect your home from the dangers of flash flooding, it is highly beneficial to understand its origins.

Causes of Flash Flooding

The jet stream, which greatly affects weather patterns throughout the year, slows during the summer season. Subsequently, summer storms have a tendency to linger over one area for a long time, which leads to a large amount of rain falling over one area. This heavy rainfall can increase the likelihood of a flash flood developing. Overall, flash flooding requires two conditions, long duration and high intensity of rainfall. These conditions are met in several storm scenarios, such as severe storms (hurricanes or tropical storms) and slow-moving thunderstorms. Another element that affects flash flooding is topography, or the physical features of an area. The risk of flash flooding is higher in areas located in close proximity to rivers, streams, and other bodies of water. Though it may come as a surprise, urban areas are also prone to flooding and flash floods due to the prominence of concrete and subsequent lack of soil into which rainwater can be absorbed.

Know Your Risk

Oftentimes, early warning cannot be given when it comes to flash floods because they develop so quickly. The lack of sufficient warning can increase the chances of your home undergoing water damage or even structural damage as a result of flash flooding. In order to protect your home, it is of the utmost importance that you know the risk of flash flooding in your area. Be sure to stay alert when storms are in the forecast and put together an emergency flood kit if you live in an area that is at an increased risk. However, if a flash flood catches you by surprise and wreaks havoc on your home, know that SERVPRO has you covered.

Wha do Waffles Have to do With FEMA?

4/6/2020 (Permalink)

A storm roared through the East Coast many years ago, in 2004. FEMA went to work, doing what they could to assess the damage and to help the disaster-stricken communities. Around the same time, out of this slew of hurricanes would grow an informal measure which would confuse civilians for years to come. The Waffle House Index. What is The Waffle House List exactly? What does delicious fluffy syrup-ey goodness have to do with Emergency Management?     
Well, a researcher working for FEMA at the time found that by examining the actual operating state of Waffle Houses in the affected area one could potentially measure how serious a natural disaster was to the communities in the surrounding areas. When the store is open, green light, if the store is running on a small menu, yellow light, and if the store is shut down entirely, red light. Those were the key measurements.   Although the theory may have seemed strange, it turned out that FEMA could get a fairly good idea of the extent of the situation in a certain area. It began as a sort of joke until FEMA administrator Craig Fugate coined the word in May 2011 (https:/n.pr/2JznNEc).
Now, with the current epidemic, The Waffle House Index is being put to the test again but now on a nationwide scale. If we can take anything from this story, its that being able to support your community in its time of need is the most important thing one can do. Whether that's staying inside at all times, or gearing up and going out to help the good of mankind. Good risk management is one thing, but understanding how to prepare for any size disaster, and being able to hold the foundation of our communities because of our preparedness is a trait that we hold pride on as well. SERVPRO Disaster Recovery Team-Team Wall, chooses to be that foundation for our community every day we put our boots on the ground. We are here to help. We are here to commit. We are here to serve.

If you would like to learn more about this topic, why not start at the Wikipedia page? If you're feeling so kind, they are in need of donations in order to stay running. All donations are appreciated. 

Three Ways to Prevent Wind Damage Due to Spring Storms

3/16/2020 (Permalink)

Booming thunder and howling winds that rattle your home are characteristics of severe storms, which are becoming more prevalent as we turn the corner into spring. Strong wind, in particular, can cause damage to homes by breaking shingles and sending tree branches flying.  Wind strength varies from storm to storm, ranging from calm wind with speeds below 1 mph to hurricane-force when the strength exceeds 73 mph. FEMA states that doors, roofs, windows, and garages are the most vulnerable areas of the home. If any of these four areas become damaged during a storm, the structure of your home may also be negatively impacted, which may require major repairs. To make sure that your home is protected from wind damage before a severe storm even appears in the forecast this spring, consider the following three tips:

Maintain Landscape and Trees

   Strong winds can wreak havoc on the area surrounding your home, resulting in fallen trees and broken tree branches, which can prove to be dangerous to your home if the trees are located close to your home. Be sure not to over-water trees because doing so can weaken the root systems of trees, decreasing their ability to withstand the overwhelming force of strong winds. Finally, be mindful of outdoor objects and equipment, such as outdoor furniture, grills, or sports equipment, as these objects can be moved or manipulated by strong winds, which can risk damage to your home. During storms with strong wind, keep such items either stored in a safe structure, such as a shed, or anchored to the ground if they must remain outside.

Inspect the Roof

   Damage to our roofs often goes unnoticed unless it creates a major problem because we cannot see it Therefore, it is important for roofs to be surveyed at least twice per year, during the summer and winter, in order to identify any damage and make sure that it is repaired. When surveying the roof, be on the lookout for loose or missing shingles and water damage in the attic. Hiring a roofing professional may be beneficial in this sense, as he or she may be able to spot hidden damage due to their experience, which could save your roof from devastation in the event of a storm occurring with strong wind. When it comes time to replace your roof shingles, consider choosing weather-resistant shingles that would be able to further protect your roof from wind damage.

Reinforce Windows and Doors

During storms with strong wind, different types of debris, such as tree branches or other outdoor objects, can pound against your home’s windows and doors. In combination with the power of strong wind gusts, these objects can inflict serious damage on vulnerable areas of your home, including doors and windows. To limit the extent of the damage to these areas, install storm shutters as a protective barrier between debris and the window or door. Storm shutters can either be purchased or makeshift storm shutters can be created with plywood. Garage doors are also a vulnerable area of the home during strong wind, so it may also be beneficial to purchase a garage door bracing kit in order to protect your garage door during severe wind and weather.

Preventing Basement Floods Due to Snowmelt

2/13/2020 (Permalink)

Stone Wall SERVPRO of Metro Pittsburgh East is always ready to tackle a new water loss in order to protect your property from further damage.

During rainy seasons, we often brace ourselves for basement flooding. However, did you know that basements can flood at any time of the year if moisture is present in the ground? Regardless of whether your basement has never flooded before or has flooded many times, all basements have the potential to flood, as they are commonly located below ground level. When moisture is present in the ground surrounding the basement, water can seep through basement walls. This moisture can result from rain, but during the winter season, the snow, ice, and other frozen precipitation that accumulates during snowstorms heavily saturate the ground upon melting, which increases the likelihood of basement flooding. This winter and spring season, protect your basement from flooding due to snowmelt by considering the following tips:

Remove Snow

Snow or ice that accumulate close to the perimeter of the home after significant snowfall can increase the likelihood of snowmelt seeping into basement walls after being absorbed into the ground. In order to decrease the chance of your basement flooding due to this occurrence, it is important to shovel a five-foot barrier between the snow and your basement. In addition, snow on roofs and overhangs should also be removed, as it can also accumulate around the perimeter of the home, which can contribute to basement flooding upon melting.

Fix Cracks in Foundation

Water can enter basements and cause flooding if there are cracks present in the basement’s walls or foundation. Water damage to objects such as nearby furniture, walls, and carpets often results from this, in addition to mold growth. The only way to decrease the risk of such damage is to repair cracks in order to prevent water from seeping into the basement. Filling cracks with epoxy can serve as a temporary solution, but professional assistance is usually needed for long-term repair. Basement walls and foundations that are free from cracks will significantly decrease the chances of your basement suffering from flooding as a result of snowmelt.

If Your Basement Floods…

Although one can take every preventative measure possible, there is always the possibility of an unexpected disaster. If your basement floods as a result of snowmelt, water must be immediately removed in order to minimize water damage, which can be achieved through the use of a wet vacuum and dehumidifiers. However, if the flood damage is overwhelming, professional assistance may be required. Calling SERVPRO of Metro Pittsburgh East ensures that your basement will be restored quickly and thoroughly after flooding due to snowmelt, minimizing any further water damage that may result from the flooding.

Flooding In Iowa

2/10/2020 (Permalink)

Storm Be wary of all storms. Keep up to date with your local weather and call SERVPRO if you suspect your building might be at risk to set up an ERP.

Flooding in Iowa

13 inches of rain hit Burlington, Iowa by storm this May over a 2 day period, leaving the city flooded and in need of remediation. In addition to the rain, large hail, high winds, and tornadoes hammered the area, which resulted in flooding that swept through the city as well as the flooding of nearby rivers, such as the Missouri River. During February of this year, a remarkable 25 inches of snow blanketed Des Moines, Iowa. The melting of all that snow left the ground completely saturated with liquid, unable to hold any more water. Therefore, the 13 inches of rain spread across the ground just as it would across a cement or tile floor, flooding highways, roads, and homes in its path. SERVPRO received around 30 job files and three crews were sent to Iowa to restore what was damaged in the flood.

Flooding can result in the contamination and damage of drywall, support beams, and even the foundation of homes. The damage to homes ranged anywhere from wet finished basements of 500 square ft to 3,000 square ft to wet flooring, walls, and content. Mold is most likely to grow in the initial 24 hours of the flooding, which calls for swift action from restoration crews.

The most satisfying component of restoring flooded homes was the crews’ ability to help flood victims bounce back in addition to the gratifying feeling that emerged as a result of helping those affected by the floods.

In The Know: Ice Dams

1/20/2020 (Permalink)

Ice on Roof Always be wary of possible build-up on ice on your roof.

Many local areas have recently seen their first significant snowfall, indicating that we’re in store for more winter weather in the coming months. Alongside significant snowfall comes the possibility for winter weather to wreak havoc on your home or business. One of the most dangerous types of winter storm damage is ice dams. Ice dams are ridges of ice that form on below-freezing sections of a roof that prevent melted snow from draining off of the roof. When the melted snow cannot escape the roof, it will pile up behind the block of ice. This liquid can then leak down into attics, insulation, ceilings, and other walls within the building through cracks, risking serious damage.

Causes, Effects, and Prevention

After a significant snowfall, ice dams form due to roof temperatures that are not uniform. One factor that contributes to uneven roof temperatures is heat loss from the building. Without proper insulation, warm air from inside of the building can heat areas of the roof, causing snow to melt and contribute to ice dams. When the melted snow that sits behind the block of ice leaks down into the building, mold and mildew can grow on ceilings, walls, and other structures of the building, risking structural damage.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5AGU5wDO0cw

In this video, the formation of ice dams is demonstrated on a model roof, providing a visual explanation of the information above. The video also explains various techniques, both short-term and long-term, that homeowners or business owners can use in order to treat an ice dam. One short-term solution shown in the video is filling a sock with rock salt and throwing it up onto the roof in hopes of breaking up the ice. A long-term solution shown in the video is adding additional insulation in your attic or having a professional spray foam underneath of the roof in order to keep warm air inside of the building.

To avoid the risk of mold growth, it is important to prevent any formation of ice dams on your roof this winter. Should an ice dam form on your roof, call SERVPRO in order to take care of the problem as quickly as possible and spare your home or business from any further damage.

Frozen Rain

11/20/2019 (Permalink)

frozen house Icicles on a House

The Metro Pittsburgh East area has begun to see its first glimpses of snow and endure its first freezes of the season due to the recent colder temperatures. Along with colder temperatures in the air, ground temperatures are beginning to reach the freezing mark as well. When ground temperatures are cold but the atmosphere is still slightly too warm to produce snow, precipitation can fall as rain and instantly freeze upon impact with freezing ground temperatures on sidewalks, roads, or bridges. Freezing rain that creates ice on roadways can pose threats to the safety of drivers and pedestrians. The freezing rain can also form ice on trees and power lines, potentially damaging them in the process. Learning about the dangers of freezing rain and what to do in preparation for it can place you one step ahead when the forecast predicts freezing rain in your neighborhood.

   Unlike snow, which can be shoveled, the ice formed by freezing rain cannot be eliminated quite as easily. Ice requires significantly more time and effort for removal. In addition, the ice resulting from freezing rain often deceives drivers and pedestrians, as ice often looks like water on a roadway or sidewalk. This can pose serious threats to drivers and pedestrians, as they may not be able to see the ice or receive adequate warning before driving in it. Aside from roadways and sidewalks, freezing rain can also impact surfaces such as tree branches and power lines. Ice can form on these surfaces. Enough ice can weigh down upon branches and power lines, potentially causing them to fall or break. Fallen branches and power lines can deprive local homes and businesses of power and heat for unpredictable amounts of time. Homes and businesses can also be at an increased risk of damage if heavy, icy branches fall nearby.

   Taking precautions prior to a storm that is forecasted to produce freezing rain is a key step in ensuring your safety. The first of these precautions is purchasing salt, which can be sprinkled on outdoor surfaces such as sidewalks or driveways that will work to melt the ice faster. Another helpful practice may be to anticipate that branches may fall, damaged power lines may result in the loss of electricity, and the ice may deprive you of the ability to leave your home safely. Making sure that you purchase necessities, such as bottled water, toilet paper, batteries, flashlights, and blankets, before the storm will decrease the chances that you would need to leave your home while conditions are dangerous.

Safety Knowledge For Storm

7/9/2019 (Permalink)

The American Red Cross suggests everyone know what steps are necessary to stay safe if dangerous weather is predicted for your community. If you are to encounter any damage SERVPRO of Metro Pittsburgh is here to help. 

Tornadoes can occur anywhere, at any time of the year or day. Safety steps you should take now to be ready if a tornado warning is issued for your neighborhood:

  • Know your community’s warning system.

  • Pick a safe room in your home where family members can gather if a tornado is headed your way. This should be a basement, storm cellar or interior room on the lowest floor with no windows.

  • Prepare for strong winds by removing diseased and damaged limbs from trees.

  • Move or secure lawn furniture, trashcans, hanging plants or anything else that can be picked up by the wind and become a projectile.

  • Know the tornado danger signs: dark, often greenish clouds, a wall cloud, cloud of debris, large hail, a funnel cloud or a roaring noise.

Thunderstorms are most likely to happen in the spring and summer, during the afternoon and evening. However, similar to tornadoes, they can happen anywhere, at any hour of the day. Every thunderstorm produces lightning, which kills more people every year than tornadoes or hurricanes. Safety steps you can take if a thunderstorm is predicted for your area:

  • If thunder roars, go indoors. If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be in danger from lightning.

  • Watch for storm signs like darkening skies, flashes of lightning or increasing winds.

  • Postpone any outdoor activities. Many people who are struck by lightning are not where it is raining.

  • Take shelter in a substantial building or a vehicle with the windows closed. Shutter windows and close outside doors securely. Stay away from windows.

  • Do not take a bath, shower or use plumbing.

Flooding can occur due to heavy spring rains filling rivers and streams and snow melt. Flash floods occur suddenly when water rises rapidly along a stream or low-lying area. You should be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice and head for higher ground when a flood or flash flood warning is issued. Additional safety steps include:

  • Stay away from floodwaters. If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankles, stop, turn around and go another way. Six inches of swiftly moving water can sweep you off of your feet.

  • If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.

  • Keep children out of the water. They are curious and often lack judgment about running water or contaminated water.

  • Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood danger.

Minimize Flood Damage by Preparing Your Building

12/23/2018 (Permalink)

Weather in Pennsylvania can change in an instant, and it only takes a small shift in a storm’s track to bring torrential downpours that could lead to devastating flooding. If you are a business owner, a flood can represent a serious threat to your company’s operations. While there is not a lot you can do to stop major floods from hurricanes and other natural disasters, here are some steps you can take to lessen the impact of storm and flood damage. 

Build Barriers to Slow Water Incursion

Water is a powerful force, and it is virtually impossible to keep it at bay, but you can align barriers in the path to slow it down. You can start this process long before the onset of flooding by building a levee, berm or flood control wall if local building codes permit. Have a professional assess your lower floors to see if you should apply sealants to walls or relocate utility boxes. When the rain starts falling, you could enlist help to place sandbags in strategic areas around the structure:

  • Across doorways, right up against the door.

  • In front of garage doors.

  • Around showers and floor drains to prevent incursion of water.

When building sandbag walls, make certain you do not completely surround your building, and use a plastic tarp as a base for extra waterproofing.

Clean Storm Drains and Gutters

In many cases, flood damage happens during normal storms because the building owner did not keep up on maintenance. Gutters, storm drains and other devices are designed to channel water away from the building, which is why it is important to clean them regularly to ensure they are free of debris that could cause a backup.

Minimize Losses, Being Prepared

Why risk significant disruptions to your operations when you could cut down on storm damage by taking some preparatory steps? Should you experience flooding despite your efforts, be sure to contact an experienced remediation company to get you back up and running as soon as possible.

Thunderstorms, Facts & Causes

12/18/2018 (Permalink)

Facts

Thunderstorms are defined as storms that produce thunder and lightning. Severe thunderstorms may also produce:

  • Rain

  • High winds

  • Sleet or snow

It’s important to note that thunderstorms do not always produce moisture. A storm in which you see lightning and hear thunder, but never feel a drop of water is known as a “dry” thunderstorm. Thunderstorms that produce hail and tornadoes are known as “supercell” storms. Storms occur either in clusters or lines; therefore, they may present as a single thunderstorm or as multiple thunderstorms, hitting one after the other.

Causes

Thunderstorms are caused when moisture from the lower or mid-level part of the atmosphere mixes with warm, unstable air from the ground. Moisture and air then push upwards into the higher atmosphere to form clouds that produce thunder and lightning, as well as potential precipitation. The sun heats the ground and moisture is more perceptible in the air, especially in humid climates.

Thunderstorms must also be lifted to begin their formation. Some sources of lift include:

  • More heat on the ground than in the air.

  • Changes in atmospheric conditions near mountains.

  • Weather front changes caused by clashing cold and hot air.

  • Drylines, or when moist and dry air clash.

  • Land or water breezes.

Any of these situations can immediately create a thunderstorm without warning, even in the middle of a clear blue day. In many cases, these storms will also be accompanied by lightning.

Minimize Flood Damage By Preparing Your Building?

12/18/2018 (Permalink)

Weather in Pennsylvania can change in an instant, and it only takes a small shift in a storm’s track to bring torrential downpours that could lead to devastating flooding. If you are a business owner, a flood can represent a serious threat to your company’s operations. While there is not a lot you can do to stop major floods from hurricanes and other natural disasters, here are some steps you can take to lessen the impact of storm and flood damage. 

Build Barriers to Slow Water Incursion

Water is a powerful force, and it is virtually impossible to keep it at bay, but you can align barriers in the path to slow it down. You can start this process long before the onset of flooding by building a levee, berm or flood control wall if local building codes permit. Have a professional assess your lower floors to see if you should apply sealants to walls or relocate utility boxes. When the rain starts falling, you may want to enlist help to place sandbags in strategic areas around the structure:

  • Across doorways, right up against the door.

  • In front of garage doors.

  • Around showers and floor drains to prevent incursion of water.

Clean Storm Drains and Gutters

In many cases, flood damage happens during normal storms because the building owner did not keep up on maintenance. Gutters, storm drains and other devices are designed to channel water away from the building. It iis important to clean and maintain your building regularly with help, to ensure no debris causes a backup.

Minimize Losses, Being Prepared

Do not risk significant disruptions to your operations when you could cut down on storm damage. Should you experience flooding, be sure to contact an experienced remediation company to get you back up and running.

Storm Facts, Tips and Safety

11/27/2018 (Permalink)

Lighting myth and fact.

Thunderstorms are defined as storms that produce thunder and lightning. Severe thunderstorms may also produce:

  • Rain

  • High winds

  • Sleet or snow

It’s important to note that thunderstorms do not always produce moisture. A storm in which you see lightning and hear thunder but never feel a drop of water is known as a “dry” thunderstorm. Thunderstorms that produce hail and tornadoes are known as “supercell” storms. Storms occur either in clusters or lines; therefore, they may present as a single thunderstorm or as multiple thunderstorms hitting one after the other.

Causes

Thunderstorms are caused when moisture from the lower or mid-level part of the atmosphere mixes with warm, unstable air from the ground. Moisture and air then push upwards into the higher atmosphere to form clouds that produce thunder and lightning, as well as potential precipitation. Spring, summer and fall are most conducive to thunderstorms because the sun heats the ground and moisture is more perceptible in the air, especially in humid climates.

Thunderstorms must also be lifted to begin their formation. Some sources of lift include:

  • More heat on the ground than in the air

  • Changes in atmospheric conditions near mountains

  • Weather front changes caused by clashing cold and hot air

  • Drylines, or when moist and dry air clash

  • Land or sea breezes

Any of these situations can immediately create a thunderstorm without warning, even in the middle of a clear blue day. In many cases, these storms will also be accompanied by lightning. Most will not come with hail or tornadoes, unless they occur in tornado-prone states such as Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Missouri.

Severe Weather Facts & Myths

11/27/2018 (Permalink)

Tornadoes damage estimate. Source: Houselogic.com.

Thunder Storm

Myth: Highway and interstate overpasses are safe shelters against a tornado.

Fact: Overpasses can concentrate the tornado winds, causing them to be significantly stronger. This places the people under them in an even more dangerous situation. In recent years, several people seeking shelter beneath overpasses have been killed or severely injured. Being above ground level during a tornado is dangerous.

Myth: The low pressure with a tornado causes buildings to explode. Opening the windows will equalize the pressure, saving the building.

Fact: Opening the windows in an attempt to equalize pressure will have no effect. It is the violent winds and debris that cause most structural damage. It is more important for you to move to a safe area away from windows and exterior walls. With a tornado, every second counts, so use your time wisely and take cover.

Myth: Thunderstorms and tornadoes always move from west to east.

Fact: More often than not, thunderstorms move from west to east. Conditions in the atmosphere dictate how and where storms will move, and it can be in any direction. Tornadoes have been known to act erratic and can change directions and speed very quickly. Never try to outrun a tornado in a vehicle.

Myth: It’s not raining here, and skies above me are clear, therefore I am safe from lightning.

Fact: Lightning can strike many miles away from the thunderstorm. If storms are in your area, but skies happen to be clear above you, that certainly does not imply you are safe from lightning. Though these “Bolts from the Blue” are infrequent, lightning strikes 10 to 15 miles away from the storm are not out of the question.

Myth: Since I am inside my house and out of the storm, I am completely safe from lightning.

Fact: Just because you have taken shelter inside, you are not automatically safe. While inside waiting out a storm, avoid using the telephone or electrical appliances and do not take showers or baths. Also stay away from doors and windows. Telephone lines, cords, plumbing, even metal window and door frames are all lightning conductors and pose a threat

Myth: Large and heavy vehicles, such as SUVs and pickups, are safe to drive through flood waters.

Fact: It is a common belief that the larger the vehicle, the deeper the water it can drive through. Many people do not realize that two feet of water can float most vehicles, including SUVs and pickups. If the water is moving rapidly, vehicles can be swept away.

Myth: Flash floods only occur along flowing streams.

Storm Safety Knowledge

7/6/2018 (Permalink)

The American Red Cross suggests everyone know what steps are necessary to stay safe if dangerous weather is predicted for your community. If you are to encounter any damage SERVPRO is here to help. 

Tornadoes can occur anywhere, at any time of the year or day. Safety steps you should take now to be ready if a tornado warning is issued for your neighborhood:

  • Know your community’s warning system.

  • Pick a safe room in your home where family members can gather if a tornado is headed your way. This should be a basement, storm cellar or interior room on the lowest floor with no windows.

  • Prepare for strong winds by removing diseased and damaged limbs from trees.

  • Move or secure lawn furniture, trashcans, hanging plants or anything else that can be picked up by the wind and become a projectile.

  • Know the tornado danger signs: dark, often greenish clouds, a wall cloud, cloud of debris, large hail, a funnel cloud or a roaring noise.

Thunderstorms are most likely to happen in the spring and summer, during the afternoon and evening. However, similar to tornadoes, they can happen anywhere, at any hour of the day. Every thunderstorm produces lightning, which kills more people every year than tornadoes or hurricanes. Safety steps you can take if a thunderstorm is predicted for your area:

  • If thunder roars, go indoors. If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be in danger from lightning.

  • Watch for storm signs like darkening skies, flashes of lightning or increasing winds.

  • Postpone any outdoor activities. Many people who are struck by lightning are not where it is raining.

  • Take shelter in a substantial building or a vehicle with the windows closed. Shutter windows and close outside doors securely. Stay away from windows.

  • Do not take a bath, shower or use plumbing.

Flooding can occur due to heavy spring rains filling rivers and streams and snow melt. Flash floods occur suddenly when water rises rapidly along a stream or low-lying area. You should be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice and head for higher ground when a flood or flash flood warning is issued. Additional safety steps include:

  • Stay away from floodwaters. If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankles, stop, turn around and go another way. Six inches of swiftly moving water can sweep you off of your feet.
  • If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.

  • Keep children out of the water. They are curious and often lack judgment about running water or contaminated water.

  • Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood danger.

Minimize Damage by Preparing Your Building

1/2/2018 (Permalink)

Weather in Pennsylvania can change in an instant, and it only takes a small shift in a storm’s track to bring torrential downpours that could lead to devastating flooding. If you’re a business owner, a flood can represent a serious threat to your company’s operations. While there’s not a lot you can do to stop major floods from hurricanes and other natural disasters, here are some steps you can take to lessen the impact of storm and flood damage. 

Build Barriers to Slow Water Incursion

Water is a powerful force, and it’s virtually impossible to keep it at bay, but you can throw barriers in its path to slow it down. You can start this process long before the onset of flooding by building a levee, berm or flood control wall if local building codes permit. Have a professional assess your lower floors to see if you should apply sealants to walls or relocate utility boxes. When the rain starts falling, you can also place sandbags in strategic areas around the structure:

Across doorways, right up against the door
In front of garage doors
Around showers and floor drains to prevent incursion by backed up “black water”

When building sandbag walls, make certain you don’t completely surround your building, and use a plastic tarp as a base for extra waterproofing.

Clean Storm Drains and Gutters

In many cases, flood damage happens during normal storms because the building owner didn’t keep up on maintenance. Gutters, storm drains and other devices are designed to channel water away from the building, which is why it’s important to clean them regularly to ensure they’re free from debris that could cause a backup.

Minimize Losses by Being Prepared

Why risk significant disruptions to your operations when you could cut down on storm damage by taking some preparatory steps? Should you experience flooding despite your efforts, be sure to contact an experienced remediation company immediately to get you back up and running as soon as possible. 

Thunderstorms Facts & Causes

12/18/2017 (Permalink)

Severe Thunderstorm Facts

Thunderstorms are defined as storms that produce thunder and lightning. Severe thunderstorms may also produce:

  • Rain
  • High winds
  • Sleet or snow

It’s important to note that thunderstorms do not always produce moisture. A storm in which you see lightning and hear thunder but never feel a drop of water is known as a “dry” thunderstorm. Thunderstorms that produce hail and tornadoes are known as “supercell” storms. Storms occur either in clusters or lines; therefore, they may present as a single thunderstorm or as multiple thunderstorms hitting one after the other.

Causes

Thunderstorms are caused when moisture from the lower or mid-level part of the atmosphere mixes with warm, unstable air from the ground. Moisture and air then push upwards into the higher atmosphere to form clouds that produce thunder and lightning, as well as potential precipitation. Spring, summer and fall are most conducive to thunderstorms because the sun heats the ground and moisture is more perceptible in the air, especially in humid climates.

Thunderstorms must also be lifted to begin their formation. Some sources of lift include:

  • More heat on the ground than in the air
  • Changes in atmospheric conditions near mountains
  • Weather front changes caused by clashing cold and hot air
  • Drylines, or when moist and dry air clash
  • Land or sea breezes

Any of these situations can immediately create a thunderstorm without warning, even in the middle of a clear blue day. In many cases, these storms will also be accompanied by lightning. Most will not come with hail or tornadoes, unless they occur in tornado-prone states such as Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Missouri.

What To Expect From Storm Damage Restoration

12/18/2017 (Permalink)

We have traveled to help other areas by car, truck and through flight because we understand the importance of helping others when we can.

Storm damage, wind damage, ice damage and hail damage can wreak havoc in your home. When this happens, you may feel like all is lost. However, you will be surprised by how much can be saved through expert home restoration or storm remediation. Before you count your losses, give storm restoration a chance.

Home restoration services that can be sought after damage are: hail damage, river flooding, ice damage, wind damage, flood water damage and ice damage. It is best to have the contacts of experts on storm remediation.

Wind damage potentially causes extensive roof damage. This happens due to loose shingles or tiles. Wind damage can also cause moisture from ice dams or ice damming to penetrate the roof. This can lead to wood swelling. The outcome is a sagging ceiling and roof damage which needs extensive roof repair.

Ice dams or ice damming also pose a risk to the roof. A roof leak can develop into a crack. This has the potential to damage the structure. Ice damming also weighs down the roof due to the ice dam pools. Homeowners who live in areas prone to wind or winter damage should consider roofs with a higher slope to reduce possible roof damage. This will reduce the need for regular roof repairs and the possibility of a roof leak. A roof leak from ice damming or formation of ice dams should be repaired immediately. Putting off a roof repair means that the homeowner incurs more costs later.

Roof inspection before the harsh weather also minimizes the roof repair costs. Any broken or lose shingles should also be fixed. Storm restoration experts will advise you on the appropriate roof repairs to be done ahead of any harsh weather. They will also assess the roof leaks before they get worse.

When you ask for advice and get approval to the services of storm restoration experts for: flood water damage, storm damage, ice damage, hail damage, river flooding, wind damage, then experts are sent to your home immediately.

Restoration professionals will conduct an examination of the exterior and the interior of a home or office. They also will check the extent of the flood water and ground water levels. This helps them to come up with the home restoration plan based on the flooding, storm damage and ground water.

The teams work together after agreeing on where to start. Storm damage, hail damage, flood water damage, roof damage and ice damage all have different water restoration processes. It is not advised for home or business owners to attempt the storm restoration process without seeking professional storm remediation.

Winter damage is another common weather calamity. Winter damage leads to frozen pipes. The frozen pipes are not able to allow for the flow of water. It can take a process and an over estimation of work for the frozen pipes to unfreeze. It is best to call in the experts to deal with the frozen pipes. Applying heat on the frozen pipes can lead to damage and the pipes may need replacement. It is recommended to keep heat  in the house at a steady level throughout the day in order to keep house pipes well heated.

Today, home restoration and storm restoration experts are fully equipped to handle flooding such as from rivers and other harsh weather elements. Enlisting services can help to save your valuables after a storm.

Flood Safety & CleanUp Tips

12/18/2017 (Permalink)

Make sure you are wearing the proper protective gear before heading into a flood damaged building. This includes boots, gloves and respirator gear. 

You will want to check for electrical hazards and structural damage, check for common hazardous materials like lead paint, asbestos, which may lead for help from professional contractors like us here at SERVPRO of Metro Pittsburgh East.

Make sure that you take these following steps when dealing with a flood damaged building or home:

  • Act quickly, the severity of damage to the building and contents escalates after 48-72 hours.
  • Ventilate affected areas to prevent mold growth. It is important to keep the air moving, if you call the professionals we can set proper air movers to make sure we decrease chances of mold growth.
  • Assess the damage to items and materials, whether it be all of your belongings or furniture we can make sure to pack out and inventory all of your personal items.
  • Expose pockets of saturation
  • Conduct a thorough cleaning
  • Confirm drying before reconstruction

These are all based on IICRC standards, which is what we here at SERVPRO of Metro Pittsburgh East, follow.  

Flood Damage to Your Home or Apartment

11/29/2017 (Permalink)

Our neighborhood is home to many inviting condos, townhouses, and apartment buildings. Multi-occupant housing presents some challenges to residents, including sharing of common areas, noise and activity with neighbors, and bad choices, or accidents, affecting those living in other units. When the mistake made by a nearby resident causes flooding in other of your tenants’ homes SERVPRO awaits to help you recover.

A third-floor tenant has a waterbed that leaked, causing flood damage throughout that wing of your South Hills apartment complex. Nearly 200 gallons of water soaks through all three levels, inconveniencing your renters, threatening structures, and ruining tenant belongings. Quick action by our restoration team saves you from relocating individuals or families as the restoration completes.

Our crew arrives with truck-mounted pumps and water extractors for speedy removal of the flooded contents of the mattress. Although we begin our investigation in the bedroom with the offending waterbed SERVPRO crew members are familiar with the “path of least resistance” water takes. Since some of the water drained down common walls and through ceilings, its path is hidden, following pipes and wiring behind the gypsum board and acoustical tiles. If necessary, we remove a few tiles or cautiously cut a hole into a wall when we fear water is pooling in unseen recesses.

After our team vacuums up visible and hidden water from carpeting and floors, air movers and dehumidifiers take on the next stage. SERVPRO technicians train in moisture measurement and monitoring, ensuring that carpeting, sub floors, and walls all receive individualized drying attention based on their difference drying curves. Carpet padding usually fails to dry fast or thoroughly enough, so we replace it in most cases. The carpeting itself dries in place, sometimes lifted and propped up, so the air moves over both the top and bottom for complete drying.

One supporting role SERVPRO provides in a disaster like this is to work with insurers. Your tenant did not sneak the waterbed into the unit. Since you knew it was in place, you demanded purchase by this lessee of additional renter’s insurance. Along with coverage, you keep up as the landlord the claims proven with our help against the extra insurance limits your liability.

Rely on SERVPRO of Metro Pittsburgh to react fast when flooding affects several units of your apartment house. Call (412) 672-5400 to arrange for a flood damage restoration team to come to your aid, 24/7.

Storm Damage? Call SERVPRO of Metro Pittsburgh

6/28/2017 (Permalink)

When Pittsburgh businesses suffer serious damage after storm events, SERVPRO of Metro Pittsburgh will work around the clock to clean up any debris and to restore the property to preloss conditions. We understand that commercial storm damage can be very costly in terms of productivity; that is why it is always our goal to get your business back up and running as quickly and as seamlessly as possible. 

We Have the Resources to Handle Large Commercial Storm Damage

When a storm hits Allegheny County, we can scale our resources to handle large-loss commercial restoration projects. We have access to equipment and personnel from a network of over 1,600 Franchises across the country, as well as elite Disaster Recovery Teams that are strategically located throughout the United States.

If your business is ever damaged by severe floods or storms, call us right away at 412-825-5480. Disaster can strike when we least expect it, but SERVPRO of Metro Pittsburgh will be there to help you weather the storm.

Does Your Pittsburgh Property Contain Lead?

6/28/2017 (Permalink)

Older homes, older child care facilities, schools and other buildings are more likely to contain lead-based paint. Homes may be private, government-assisted or public housing. Schools are preschools and kindergarten classrooms. They may be urban, suburban or rural.

Percentage of homes likely to contain lead:

    • Built between 1960-1978 = 24%
    • Built between 1940-1960 = 69%
    • Built before 1940 = 87%

What can you do to protect your family from lead in pre-1978 homes?

  • If you rent, notify your landlord of peeling or chipping paint.
  • Clean up paint chips immediately.
  • Regularly clean floors, window sills, and other surfaces. Use a mop, sponge, or paper towel with warm water and a general all-purpose cleaner or a cleaner made specifically for lead.
  • Thoroughly rinse sponges and mop heads after cleaning dirty or dusty areas.
  • Wash children’s hands, bottles, pacifiers and toys often.
  • Keep children from chewing window sills or other painted surfaces.
  • Clean or remove shoes before entering your home to avoid tracking in lead from soil.

SERVPRO of Metro Pittsburgh follows the EPA's strict guidelines for lead paint

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires firms performing renovation, repair, and painting projects that disturb lead-based paint in pre-1978 homes, child care facilities and schools be certified by the EPA. These firms also must use certified renovators who are trained by EPA-approved training providers to follow lead-safe work practices.

According to EPA requirements (40 CFR Part 745) contractors must use lead-safe work practices and follow these three simple procedures:

  • Contain the work area.
  • Minimize dust.
  • Clean up thoroughly.

SERVPRO of Metro Pittsburgh technicians always take the necessary precautions according to current laws. Our technicians have been trained and certified to follow lead-safe work practices while performing renovation and repair projects in your area. 

Severe Weather and the Toll it Takes on Your Home or Business

3/1/2017 (Permalink)

Heavy Winds and Rain Can Cause a Major Toll on Your Home or Business. Call (412) 825- 5480 if you need immediate assistance from storm damage.

Severe weather can take a toll on your home. It’s not unusual for storm damage to affect your home’s exterior, leading to serious problems in the aftermath of the weather. SERVPRO of South Hills provides 24-hour restoration services for weather-related damage to homes.


When a storm strikes, it’s important to be aware of the potential problems that can develop. You can’t control the weather, but you can control how you respond in the immediate aftermath. Here are three of the issues that could afflict your home after a storm hits:



  • Roof Damage: Roofs are susceptible to damage during any major storm, from heavy winds and torrential rains to snowstorms. Moisture can weaken already vulnerable areas of the roof, and strong winds can knock down loose shingles or cause visible damage to them. You may notice a leak in your attic or ceiling if a storm damages your roof.

  • Windows Are Vulnerable: A thoroughly sealed and weather-stripped window is unlikely to suffer severe storm damage, but old windows that haven’t been catered to recently could develop problems if it rains. For example, the moisture can seep into openings around the window, causing a leak inside the house. Rain can also cause wood to rot and mold to develop in the window’s vicinity. Rugs and carpets in the area could also be susceptible to water damage. Windows in the basement are extremely vulnerable if they aren’t protected, which leads to flooded basements and potentially damaged property. 

  • Gutters Can Become Clogged: Gutters aren’t immediately obvious problems because you have to inspect them to see if they’ve become clogged after the storm. Rain can wash all kinds of debris into them, and once they become congested, they no longer filter water away from your home. The result could be water damage to your property, and the gutters could also suffer damage later since the excess weight of debris can cause them to sag.


Storm damage affects more than just the trees around the house. It can also have an impact on your home’s foundation. After a major storm, take a close look at your home and investigate for problematic signs. If you discover anything, call the restoration service team at SERVPRO of South Hills at (412) 825-5480. They’ll manage the situation and restore your home back to normal. 

SERVPRO Deploys Disaster Recovery Team

11/21/2016 (Permalink)

You can't stop a disaster from striking, but you can help minimize the damages.

Below is a press release from mid-April 2016 from our corporate office regarding Houston flooding. It will give you an idea about how our organization responds to national disasters. SERVPRO Metro-Pitt is part of the national disaster response team. 

Gallatin, Tennessee April 19, 2016 - Heavy rainfall continues to cause widespread flooding in and around the Houston area. With more rain in the forecast, additional flooding is expected. SERVPRO’s Disaster Recovery Team has been activated to assist residents and business owners in flood affected areas.

The days immediately following a flood event are critical to prevent secondary damages, like mold. SERVPRO suggests the following steps to help minimize additional damage to your property.

  • If the water has entered the structure through the flooding of a creek, stream or river, or if it has filtered through insulation during its intrusion, it is considered to be black water and could be hazardous to your health. Avoid contact with contaminated items as much as possible.
  • Take the greatest caution while entering your home, and wear sturdy shoes and protective clothing when dealing with flooded areas.
  • Do not attempt to operate any electrical equipment while standing in wet or damp locations.
  • Throw away all foods – even canned goods – that have come into contact with flood waters.
  • Remove and prop wet upholstery and pillow cushions for drying. Wipe excess water from wood furniture after removal of lamps and tabletop items.
  • Place fans at 45-degree angles to walls and move large furniture away from walls to create the best air circulation.
  • If your home has a crawlspace, be aware excess moisture in this area can often foster mold growth.

The first 24 hours after a water damage or flood are so crucial to keeping final costs of the damage down, said Don Turner, Director of SERVPRO’s Disaster Recovery Team. A lot of flood situations require professional equipment and knowledge of the science of drying to mitigate. By taking these steps, property owners can help minimize damage until the professionals arrive.

SERVPRO’s Disaster Recovery Team mobilizes from across the country, as needed, to support large storm events. SERVPRO’s Disaster Recovery Team has responded to large loss and storm events across the country, including: 2015 Siberian Express, 2014 Mid-Atlantic Flooding, 2014 Polar Vortex, 2013 Colorado Floods, 2013 Alberta, Canada Floods, 2012 Hurricane Sandy, 2012 Hurricane Isaac, 2011 Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, 2011 North Dakota Floods, 2010 Tennessee Floods, 2010 New England Floods, 2009 California Wildfires and 2008 Hurricane Ike.

About SERVPRO

Founded in 1967, the SERVPRO Franchise System is a leader and provider of fire and water cleanup and restoration services, and mold mitigation and remediation. SERVPRO's professional services network of more than 1,700 individually owned and operated Franchises responds to property damage emergencies ranging from small individual disasters to multi-million dollar large-loss events. Providing coverage in the United States and Canada, the SERVPRO System has established relationships with major insurance companies and commercial clients, as well as individual homeowners.

2016 Hurricane Season Most Active Since 2012

5/22/2016 (Permalink)

SERVPRO STORM TEAM - Here to Help!

The 2016 Atlantic hurricane season is expected to be the most active since 2012, according to a forecast released Friday, May 20, 2016 by The Weather Company, an IBM Business.

A total of 14 named storms, eight hurricanes and three major hurricanes are forecast during the coming season.

This is greater than the 30-year historical average of 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes for the Atlantic basin. A major hurricane is one that is Category 3 or stronger on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

The Weather Company's forecast also calls for a slightly higher number of named storms and hurricanes than an outlook issued earlier in April by Colorado State University (CSU) that is headed by Dr. Phil Klotzbach. That forecast said the Atlantic was expected to see 13 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes.

An important note about both outlooks is that the seasonal forecast numbers do include Hurricane Alex, a rare January hurricane that struck the Azores a few months back. Though the official hurricane season spans the months from June through November, occasionally we can see storms form outside those months.

Goodbye El Nino.. Hello La Nina

The strong El Niño we saw this winter continues to fade away and may transition to its counterpart La Niña by this fall. Of course, if this handoff from El Niño to La Niña conditions occurs, it could happen during the middle of the 2016 hurricane season.

Klotzbach said that the transition from El Niño to neutral or La Niña conditions during the 2016 hurricane season makes this particular April hurricane outlook very uncertain.

The transition could cause the early part of the hurricane season to be less active while the second half of the season may more active, according to The Weather Company's outlook.