This week on IAQ Radio we continue with our coverage of the recent hurricanes and recovery. We will be talking to professionals on the ground in Florida the US Virgin Islands for their perspective on the recovery from Hurricane Irma. Irma was massive and many IAQ and restoration professionals have been called in to help. Learn from the pros what mistakes and pitfalls to avoid. Also, get first hand eyewitness accounts from your colleagues on the ground.
John Lapotaire together with his wife Lydia, has owned and operated Orlando Florida based Indoor Air Quality Solutions since 2001. John is a Building Envelope & Indoor Environment Consultant specializing in building product failure investigations, forensic water intrusion investigations, and building envelope failure investigations for commercial and residential structures.
Josh Winton is the owner of Discreet Restoration and Discreet Protect Systems of Pompano Beach, FL. He has over 12 years experience in water damage restoration and mold remediation. He is becoming a leader of the next generation of restoration pros utilizing time tested field techniques and equipment supplemented with today’s technologies.
Addison Christian is owner of ADCON Environmental Services located in Fredericksted, St. Croix US Virgin Islands. He has 20 years experience in the asbestos, IAQ, disaster restoration, HAZMAT, medical waste, waste oil recycling and HVAC cleaning professions. He has also has been a general contractor in the Caribbean for over 30 years.
Nuggets mined from today’s episode:
.John Lapotaire- working from a mobile office. Remains without power at home. Working in New Smyrna Beach. Amazing stretch of damage, largest power outage in US history. Fuel shortages easing, 50% of power has been restored. Central FL suffered significant tornado damage. Secondary damage of riverine flooding. 23 Florida rivers and creeks currently exceed flood stage. St. Johns river flows north. John recommends in the absence of drying equipment that antimicrobials be used to stabilize materials and slowdown fungal growth. Florida needs able bodied workers and equipment. Florida doesn’t need people signing up AOBs for work months later.
Josh Winton- working primarily residential losses with wind driven rain. Today is first day returning to work. Awaiting arrival of additional equipment he purchased. No rental equipment available. Larger firms are working on larger buildings. Beginning to see visible mold. Fuel remains difficult to get.
Addison Christian- St. Croix USVI is a work in progress. Of the 3 USVI, St. Croix had the least damage, St. Thomas had more and St. John had the most. St. Croix primarily lost power, other islands weren’t so lucky and suffered extensive devastation. First responders are having difficulty getting around on St. John due to extensive amounts of debris. Last night 5”-6” of downpour of rain on St. Croix from tropical storm Jose. The hospital building on St. Thomas (4 stories) was ravaged by the hurricane. Roof was blown off, extensive water damage. Airport of St. Thomas remains closed because the 175-200 mph winds blew down the perimeter fencing. Airport terminal suffered significant damage to the waiting area. Only flights into St. Thomas are private, military, general aviation, and medevac. Ports remain closed. Container ships are on hold. Reality sinking in. The shock wears off and gives way to anger and disgust. People realize the importance of little things they miss. Strict curfews on the islands which began before the hurricane and storms are being relaxed. People only have limited time to get needed fuel for generators is complicated by hurricane damage to many of the gas stations. Food (military rations) are being distributed on St. Thomas and St. John through FEMA. Distribution of tarps has begun. They have access to food, water, power. They have security from police, military, customs and border enforcement, national guard, and FBI. Security is well organized and working in harmony. There is no looting. Was personally fortunate, trees down and a few new leaks in his home. Unsure about the status of valuable equipment he has cached on other islands?
John Lapotaire- Trailers of restoration equipment previously stored in central Florida was deployed to Texas for Harvey. There are extreme equipment shortages in Florida. Every piece of equipment is in use, with long waiting lists. “Florida wants its’ rednecks with boats and chainsaws back.” Scott Tarpley has 50 vehicles working drying government buildings in the Keys.
Z-Man suggests placing Calcium Chloride in pillow cases and suspended over bucket. With fan blowing on it.
Thinking about going to Florida what to bring?
John Lapotaire- Bring dehumidifiers, airmovers, pressure washes; the air scrubbers can come later. Remove wet drywall, carpet and pad. With equipment limitations, focus on drying what’s wet. Use poly film to isolate wet areas. There is much work to be done and many people are needed. Work remains to be done from Mathew.
Addison Christian- Help is needed on the islands. First responders are doing remarkable work. The big challenges are housing and equipment shortages. The logistics of getting equipment onto the islands is a major challenge. Shipping and people flow through south Florida to the islands. All his equipment is rented, he is out of equipment. Equipment rental isn’t an option on the islands.
John Lapotaire- Florida has strict mold licensing laws which will likely soon be relaxed. A 90 day extension has been given for filing insurance claims. He advises property owners to ask service providers for credentials and suggests calling the organizations to confirm affiliation: IAQA, RIA, IICRC, ACAC & NADCA. Warns consumers not to take the low bid, rather hire someone who can help you. General contractors can legally perform mold remediation if it is part of their scope of work and they haven’t advertised the service. Remediators cannot hang drywall without a license in some counties. Know the local regulations. He highly recommends checking for prior asbestos surveys on worksites or risk being bitten when the issue arises later.
Addison Christian- Disasters are unpredictable. Be prepared. Communicate good information. Cover roofs, remove wet materials, apply antimicrobials, move air. He experienced Hurricane Hugo, lost his roof and was without power for 9 months. He sympathizes with what others are going through because he’s lived through it. Don’t forget the psychological component, desperation and depression people need emotional support.
Josh Winton- You need to know what class of water you are dealing with. You may find yourself working on a jobsites competitor. Someone who once was your enemy is now your friend. They never should have been your enemy in the first place.
RadioJoe- Don’t forget about leaving sufficient equipment and staff to service your customers at home.
John Lapotaire- This is the 8th major event he has worked through. Plenty of property owners need help. Know and understand the value of the Pittsburgh Protocol. Hats off to the Florida governor, law enforcement, first responders, the 12K power workers from as far away as Canada working on the largest state power outage in US history. The disaster is bringing neighbors and people together. IAQA is disseminating information to their members and to the public through social media. IAQA has reps in Houston and Florida providing daily reports on relief efforts.
Z-Man suggests placing Calcium Chloride in pillow cases and suspended over bucket. With fan blowing on it. It really works!
Z-Man signing off
Why do hurricanes have women’s names?
By doing this, the National Weather Service was mimicking the habit of Naval meteorologists, who named the storms after women, much as ships at sea were traditionally named for women. In 1979, the system was revised again to include both female and male hurricane names.