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  • Disaster In Iowa

    Hey Everyone.

    A couple days ago I got to experience a Hurricane......... In Iowa. We had sustained winds in excess of 100 mph. I have had no cell service or power for pretty much 2 days. I haven't been able to contact my customers. I am just getting settled with some cell internet. I have severe damage at all 3 of my locations.

    I need your guys help. I need roll up doors in several sizes. I need new roofs for some areas. I need trim pieces, I need a break lol.

    my buildings are steel buildings from heritage or Pella. I have roll rite doors across all my locations.

    I have been repairing roofs and doors the last couple days. I have quite a few I will have to rip out and board up until I can get doors. I have a feeling doors may take 30+ days. Any suggestions on temporary boarding them up?

    I don't want to do all this work any suggestions on contractors that work well with insurance?

    Any suggestions you all can offer that may save me some time would be greatly appreciated.


  • #2
    First, make sure you contact the insurance company, find out what documentation they need and get plenty of pictures before you do ANY repairs. Tarps, tarps, tarps make a great quick fix (not a long term solution but helps prevent more damage and you may be able to get them for free from your municipality, fire department or the red cross. Also, if you have a lot of wet areas, damp rid as always will help keep mold down.

    Do a thorough back ground check on any contractors you hire. A lot of scummy ones come out of the wood work in those situations.

    Keep an eye out if FEMA will declare it a national disaster area, that can trigger all sorts of financial assistance too.

    Towns and municipalities generally will have a debris clean-up plan, so keep an eye out for that information. They will come and pick up debris you'd normally have to pay to get hauled away or pay the dump to take.

    It also may pay to invest in a mass text system short term if you don't already have one, just to make communication easier with your tenants. A lot work over internet and texts are much easier to get through then actual phone calls for both you and your customers, who may still not have great cell reception.

    Having a tip sheet, insurance contact info, etc. for customers on salvaging belongings that may have wind/water damage can help de escalate situations I'm sure you are going to be facing too.

    Comment


    • #3
      Excellent advice T_Champeau

      Randy, so sorry to hear about this! Hopefully, you'll get some great advice from the community.
      Amy Campbell
      Editor
      Inside Self-Storage
      [email protected]

      @AmyCampbell_ISS
      480.281.6091

      Comment


      • #4
        I can only send good wishes as I have no solid advice except what has already been offered. Also, if it's dangerous for tenants, make signs to keep them out and a number to check in for updates.
        Even duct-tape can't fix stupid. But it can muffle the noises.

        WA State

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        • #5
          I am being contacted by a company called Premier claims a public adjuster wanting to work on my claims. They want 10% of what they can get me and are offering to do most the work. They claim to work specifically with storage and are out of Omaha Nebraska. Any advice?? On these folks or other options.
          ​​​​​

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          • #6
            Your insurance company should bring in an adjuster and handle claims. They will have contacts for companies who can come help board things up and will pay the costs, less your deductible. You should be working with them.

            Comment


            • #7
              Holy Heck!
              We have hurricanes in Florida and we are used to it. I am sorry that you had to experience that in IOWA !?!?!?!??!?!?!?!!???
              I can't add anything to what has already been posted.
              The future depends on what you do in the present.

              Comment


              • #8
                RandyL

                Check list I developed while waiting for flood waters to go down. Pick and choose as applicable.

                Key "Customer" Cleanup considerations:
                1. Keep tenants out until it is safe. Even though they are dying and pleading with you to see how things are. You don't know how things have settled in the units and if they will fall out on them. Also the ground is so soft, that you couldn't get trucks in, till it dries.
                2. Establish a communication message with them, even if it says no change in status. This water was stuck behind levies and stayed two foot over the units for 30 days. Tenants could not get down to see the storage location since all roads down there were closed off. I was allowed to go down and check out status.
                3. The following might sound selfish or harsh, but I had to have a way to keep order in the debris clearance. Supplied large cow lick buckets for them to put all loose stuff in. Had them bring them to the front of the unit. Rented a skidsteer and then we moved them to the dump pile. This way they spent more time going through their things versus hauling. Also less chance of them getting hurt. Also they would have just thrown things out the front door making it impassable. Anyone throwing loose stuff on the ground I had leave. Because we in turn had to pick it up.
                4. With the counties requirements. Separated items into metal, chemicals/flammables, recycleable, etc piles.
                5. Supplied High School help to empty out storage units as the tenants wanted. There were 70 storage/container units and we totally cleared about 25 which were abandoned. The rest we probably helped clear out another 30 helping the tenant.
                6. Had someone there at all times from a security standpoint. Everyone was worried about theft. Also had strict open/close hours.
                7. Put a Saturday to Saturday time period for people to come clear out. Again this sounds harsh, but we would have been there for months, with as you have time. We worked with people who were out of the country or in need of help.
                8. Empathy. These same people have lost their homes and goods. Collectibles and family albums. Living with neighbors and friends, which is tough. Kids filling displaced. I am not saying to let each one tell you their story, because you will become drained fast, plus you took a hit (lawn mover, son's car and business). Help them clean their units out. Supply help or trash removal. Give them security over their things. Etc.

                Insurance Process:
                1. Call your insurance broker.
                2. They put you in touch with their middleman coordinator. All of this insurance is re-insured. Your claim is not handled with the company you bought from, but with the re-insurer.
                3. They put you in touch with Insurance adjusters. They are not employees of the re-insurance company.
                4. Then you do a site visit, which for our flood was about day 60.
                5. Keep sending them pictures. Its not possible to believe 2 feet of water over your roof for 30 days.
                6. The Middleman coordinator, is really on your side. He is trying to get you the best settlement.
                7. Screw up on your original insurance coverage. I had put the wrong information down from another location which had higher cost. Luckily the coverage I needed was far greater than I thought, was met by this coverage.
                8. Your thinking repairing your buildings. You need to add a lot more for cleanup costs. It could cost you more than the repair on the buildings. Just because your Concrete base looks good, you don't know how it will settle. Go for a full claim even on your building bases and roads. You only get one settlement. You don't get to come back a year later and ask for more. Evaluate how much it would cost for "you" to clean out your location and haul/dump costs. Add this on top of your expected insurance costs.
                9. Even if it looks good claim it. Had to replace the roof, even though it looked great. It leaked later.
                10. Read the fine print on Hail, earthquake and floods. This is very area specific.
                11. Make sure you have coverage for Ongoing business income. You can get 12 months or 18 months income coverage. Remember your original Rent up period, your back at it again. This is lost value. Make sure you have the coverage.
                12. Our insurance company no longer covers flood insurance for any customers.
                13. Storage insurance is relatively cheap. Don't save pennies. Another location only turned in dollar coverage for about 1/4 of their true value. The insurance company only settled for a quarter. He had to eat the rest.
                14. Mentioned Cargo containers below. These are not regarded as buildings from an insurance perspective. Make sure your "personal" property coverage is high enough to cover them. We fell short about $50,000.



                "Company" Cleanup considerations:
                1. Don't get in a hurry, your exhausted already.
                2. Let the job site air out for a while.
                3. The stigma of the location will be around for a while, so don't get in a hurry to rent.
                4. Power wash, bleach, power wash, bleach, hand wash, etc. Keep well ventilated. The bleach can cause skin, eye or inhalation burns. We washed our units a total of 3 times, different levels of cleaning. You want to be able to tell customers it is as good as new and there are no mold issues.
                5. Use grease cutting liquid. A lot of the dirt on the metal walls is grease and won't come off with power washing or regular soap.
                6. Get your buildings and site cleaned up first. Then get your electricians, security, and fence vendors in. Otherwise you will be power washing or messing up their new connections.
                7. Unless you truly have the insurance coverage. Do it yourself. All of the local cleanup firms were booked for a year. We would have had to hire a group from 800 miles away. Would have cost a fortune.
                8. Make sure everyone has a tetanus shot and preferably Hep A/B. As much as possible tell them not to use their hands. Just Shovels and rakes to avoid cuts and needles.


                Comment


                • #9
                  Key thing is to keep your customers out of the storage facilities until safe. Electricity, sharp steel, theft, etc.

                  Like other people said, don't do anything until you have contacted your insurance company. Take tons of pictures.

                  If you run out of supplies (tarps, plywood, etc ) in your area and cant get. Give me a list and I can drive some over. We got hit by the wind but not as bad. We just dropped our son off at Ames for college, and it looked like the wind got worst coming across Iowa.


                  ​​​​​​​

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Clarkstoragellc T_Champeau

                    Thanks for the great advice luckily this is not my first disaster. But I have come across many lessons learnt that I will need to improve on for the future. In regards to tenant notifications, and use of cloud computing software.

                    I have just got power back at my house at 4 days. All of my business locations are still without power. We were without reliable cell service for 3 days. I counted on my cell phone, and mobile hot spot to be my backup, but that doesn't help if cell service is down all over town. I didn't have paper backups of tenant contact information. The thought of going days without being able to contact my customers and having unsecured units was really tearing at my gut.

                    I had about 70 doors damaged or blown out of the track as a result of the storm, this is down to less than 20 now after repairs I completed myself with my employees. I will be forced to board up some doors. Has anyone ever had to do this before? I have an idea of how I will do this, but I would love to hear what others have done in these situations.

                    I immediately made repairs to roofs. All of my metal roofs stayed on the buildings in the 100+ miles per hour winds. One facility took major damage from neighboring businesses that lost roofs. There were 2x4's protruding from roofs and doors in different areas. Debris made approx 100 holes of varying sizes. At another location I had winds separate panels of my standing seam roof. I also had doors come out of tracks beat on the roof and make holes at that location. I have temporarily repair all of this myself already. I still need to inspect the roofs of 1 facility but I don't expect much damage there.

                    I am happy to say all 366 solar panels I put on roofs are still there and undamaged after a second significant storm in one year.

                    Vendors if you see this I would love to hear from you My phone number is 319-286-9000 select option 2 and it comes straight to my cell phone. My email is [email protected]

                    I have still to find out how bad the water damage might be due to the power outage, I am hopeful damage to my tenants property will be minor. Which is the polar opposite of when I flooded. Then my tenants took significant damage but there was no insurance coverage for me and very little structural damage. This time around I have sustained major structural at all my locations, but tenant damage may be minimal.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Hey everyone almost 2 weeks in now,. We found a good system for getting the doors boarded up. Just about all done with those at this point. Still getting lots of calls from public adjusters wanting between 5-10% of the claim. Initial estimates are putting my damage in excess of $1,000,000. I really hope my insurance is as good as I hope it is.

                      If any other facility owners have had to deal with massive insurance claims I would be interested in talking to you.

                      I'm just greatful that this time it seems my tenants have been largely spared from damage. As opposed to 12 years ago when the flood hit and my tenants took the brunt of the damage.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Randy I'm so sorry you were hit by this event. I've been MIA for a couple of weeks so I'm just now reading this. I'm glad you are making headway on the mess.
                        Gina 6k
                        twitter.com/GinaSixKudo
                        VM: Four-Oh-Eight- Seven-Eight-Oh-Eight-Oh-Seven-Nine
                        [email protected]



                        You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough!
                        I am not an attorney, just an experienced manager who is willing to share what I have learned. Your thoughts, practices or opinions may vary and neither of us may be right.

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                        • #13
                          Randy pulling for you 150% to get things back on track Buddy, sounds like you are, and know you will. Just a Bad, Bad, blow!
                          Dave (Woodee) Scott

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                          • #14
                            Just wanted to give a shout out to all who responded to Randy after his terrible experience. It was extremely timely for me- I had a facility get hit by a tornado the end of August. First time I'd ever experienced anything like this. The ISS site was the first thing I looked at for guidance after my manager called and told me the news. Not sure if we did everything right the first couple days, but we did our darnedest not to do anything wrong. The things I gleaned from this post in particular helped immensely, thanks to all of you!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by smackdab View Post
                              Just wanted to give a shout out to all who responded to Randy after his terrible experience. It was extremely timely for me- I had a facility get hit by a tornado the end of August. First time I'd ever experienced anything like this. The ISS site was the first thing I looked at for guidance after my manager called and told me the news. Not sure if we did everything right the first couple days, but we did our darnedest not to do anything wrong. The things I gleaned from this post in particular helped immensely, thanks to all of you!
                              I hope everyone in your area was okay!
                              Even duct-tape can't fix stupid. But it can muffle the noises.

                              WA State

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