Extremely busy doesn’t begin to describe what life was like for the staff at Moore Roofing in Hurricane Irma’s aftermath.
“It’s something you never see coming, that you don’t think is going to happen, said the 12-year-old, Marco Island company’s owner, Tom Moore. “It sort of turned us upside down for awhile.”
The repair and replacement of tile and other types of roof, for residential and commercial customers, are the company’s specialty. But Moore Roofing’s services also include soffit and gutter installation, the removal of damaged screen enclosures and other debris, along with seawalls.
“And we’ll handle your insurance claim from the beginning to the end,” Moore added.
The business opened its doors two days after Irma’s September 10 landfall in Southwest Florida, with no electricity, phones or internet, in recognition of the structural damage the storm left in its wake.
“We had 1,500 to 2,000 people walk in our doors during the week after the hurricane,” said Moore. “We had 500 a day, documented. We had lines out the door, 20 to 30 deep.”
Handling the dramatic upswing in demand required a dramatic response: meaning 18-hour days for the first four weeks after Irma’s passage and increasing the office staff from five to 17 employees.
“We spent the first month not doing repairs or small needs,” said Moore. “We focused all of our attention for the first 32 days on ‘tarping’ roofs and saving people’s houses. So it was 35 guys, seven days a week, plus the full staff, just to tarp houses.”
He said they “tarped” the roofs of more than 700 homes on Marco, in Goodland and on the Isles of Capri during that time period.
“It was an overload at the beginning,” Moore added. “It was a lot of pressure at the beginning, but now we feel that we’re in control. We’re on top of it.”
The frantic pace has eased to the point where the workers are now tearing off and “drying in” tile roofs, removing the old subtile surface and installing “a peel and stick dry-in package on to make them safe,” he said. They are currently at a pace of tearing off 15 to 20 roofs a week.
Moore stressed the fact that tile repairs are mainly a cosmetic issue. “Just because tiles are blown off, it doesn’t mean you’re going to have water issues,” he added.
The company’s waiting list for service currently stands at five to six weeks.
“There’ve been a lot of people talking saying its two to three years, which is completely untrue,” he said. “We’re moving at a good pace to keep up. I’m real proud of the progress.”
Moore was just starting his company when Hurricane Wilma ravaged the area in October of 2005, an event that taught him some valuable lessons about a hurricane’s affect on the roofing business.
The sharp uptick in demand, poststorm, is invariably accompanied by a dramatic rise in prices for materials and everything roofing related. To try and keep pace, manufacturers, wholesalers and transportation companies all have to pay workers overtime. In some cases, they also have to add staff and equipment, something roofing companies could face, as well.
In the end, those additional costs are passed along to the consumer.
“What the price is for a roof before the storm isn’t even close to what the price is after a storm,” said Moore.
But he said insurance companies factor in the price escalations after a hurricane into the claim payments they make to affected property owners.
Moore said the most difficult thing he encountered after the storm were unfounded rumors circulating within the community that he was overcharging customers, to capitalize on the situation.
“It was sort of shocking to hear,” he said. “I feel I’ve built a reputable business here on Marco Island and only two or three weeks after the storm you hear that I’m out to take advantage of people. It was sort of heart wrenching to hear that after 12 years of building the business, as if overnight, after the storm, I’d changed my business ethics. We just appreciate loyal customers who saw what we were going through and understood, and had patience and kind words, who bought us food and donuts in the evening. That was an uplifting thing.”
The company’s website, mooremarcoroofing.com, is again available online after being out of service after the storm. It serves as a clearinghouse for up-to-date information on such things as scheduling, whether there’s a waiting list, property insurance and the claims process, tiles repairs and more.
Moore Roofing does not charge for estimates and pricings for re-roofs and roof repairs. For more information about the company, visit the website, call 239-394-2100 or stop by the office, located at 799 E. Elkcam Circle.