Hurricane season typically runs June 1 through Nov. 30. An average season has 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes (a major hurricane is a storm that ranks Category 3 or higher), according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. At press time, Hurricane Ian knocked out power on the entire island of Cuba, hammered Florida with historic flooding and catastrophic damage, and was heading up the east coast. For many, Ian will be remembered as “the big one.”
In 2019, the Atlantic hurricane season was the fourth consecutive above-normal season. The only other period on record that produced four consecutive above-normal seasons was 1998-2001, according to NOAA. The 2019 season produced 18 named storms, including six hurricanes of which three were major hurricanes.
On Sept. 1, 2019, Hurricane Dorian reached peak intensity and made landfall across several areas, becoming the worst natural disaster for the Bahamas. The storm killed 74 people, 245 people were reported missing and 13,000 homes on the Abaco Islands were severely damaged. Following the hurricane, the team at CMR Construction & Roofing, Haltom City, Texas, deployed to the islands to provide immediate roofing assistance.
There were three major hurricanes in 2019—Dorian, Humberto and Lorenzo. Hurricane Dorian is tied with three other hurricanes—a Labor Day Hurricane in 1935, Hurricane Gilbert in 1988 and Hurricane Wilma in 2005—as the second-strongest hurricane on record in the Atlantic basin in terms of wind speed (185 mph), according to NOAA.
Before the storm reached the Bahamas, two CMR Construction & Roofing partners, a general contractor and Stormseal® Industries Pty. Ltd., New South Wales, Australia, were getting ready for post-storm recovery work.
“Matt Lennox, owner of Stormseal, was preparing for the imminent threat Category 5 Hurricane Dorian posed to southeast Florida,” says Daniel Brown, account manager for CMR Construction & Roofing. “He knew the storm would result in an urgent need for durable, temporary roof systems.”
Meanwhile, Hurricane Dorian stalled over the Bahamas for 24 hours, causing devastation to the Abaco Islands, where the general contractor was working.
“They had an immediate need for mitigation work, repairs and temporary roofing for the surviving structures on Great Guana Cay,” Brown says. “So we readied a storm response crew to take care of the properties.”
In early October it was safe to enter the Bahamas, and the CMR Construction & Roofing crew arrived on the island with tools, materials and camping gear fit for off-grid survival.
“When our team first reached the cay, no power, food, water or structures were available for camping,” Brown says. “The general contractor team had a few travel trailers delivered the day before our arrival, so we towed them from the dock to a sandy clearing near the beach. We were able to access two trailers, and we used items from our tool kits to splice power cables into the job-site generator we brought. From that point, we made marginal improvements each day after work to make our living conditions more comfortable. Eventually, we managed to get running water and even an ice machine!”
Getting materials to a site following a catastrophic event is challenging—let alone working on a small island in another country where everything must arrive on a barge and pass through customs.
“Fortunately, the general contractor had an established logistics channel that facilitated the process,” Brown says. “We immediately started repairs and installing Stormseal to temporarily seal the roofs on six properties, which included three to five large roofs plus a few smaller structures throughout the island. In total, we successfully sealed and protected 30 roofs.”
A few months before Hurricane Dorian, a CMR Construction & Roofing team from the company’s Naples, Fla., facility completed the Stormseal installer training program.
“We pride ourselves on having a highly skilled team with expertise in a wide variety of roofing materials, including shrink-wrap products,” Brown explains. “With the training fresh in our minds, we were confident we could perform the installations in any condition.”
PROJECT NAME: Hurricane Dorian storm response
PROJECT LOCATION: Abaco Islands, the Bahamas
PROJECT DURATION: September 2019-September 2021
ROOFING CONTRACTOR: CMR Construction & Roofing, Haltom City, Texas
TEMPORARY ROOFING TYPE: Polyethylene film
ROOFING MANUFACTURER: Stormseal,® New South Wales, Australia
During the reroofing phase, the crew faced more challenges as the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the globe.
“That meant COVID-19 protocols, lockdowns, travel restrictions, long material lead times and staff shortages contributed to the difficulty of the project,” Brown says.
During 13 months on the island, crew members sealed and repaired 26 cedar shake roofs; sealed and repaired four asphalt shingle roofs; and replaced 25 cedar shake, 11 TPO membrane and one two-ply polymer-modified bitumen roof systems.
“Our team was able to experience the island’s recovery first-hand—from the days immediately following the hurricane through the final roof system installations,” Brown says. “We were able to see the island transform through the hard work, dedication, and collaborative efforts of locals and visiting contractors. It is a terrific feeling we will not soon forget.”
Operation Blue Roof
One month after returning from the Bahamas, the CMR Construction & Roofing crew’s disaster recovery skills were again needed. In late August 2021, Category 4 Hurricane Ida became the second-most damaging and intense hurricane to make landfall in Louisiana, causing 85 deaths and $36 billion in insured losses, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Upon landfall, Ida generated a storm surge up to 14 feet above ground level in southeastern Louisiana.
CMR Construction & Roofing was one of three contractors selected by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to participate in a Stormseal shrink-wrap pilot project.
“CMR was asked to help assess the viability of full Stormseal encapsulations for specific types of damaged residential roofs that had been technically disqualified from the Operation Blue Roof program,” Brown says.
Operation Blue Roof is a program managed by USACE for FEMA. The service is free and provides homeowners in disaster areas with fiber-reinforced sheeting to cover damaged roofs until permanent repairs can be made. After a “blue roof” is installed, the structure is declared habitable. However, not all roof types qualify for the program. Most low-slope roofs or those made of metal, clay, slate or asbestos tile do not qualify.
The pilot project was implemented from CMR Construction & Roofing’s Hurricane Ida response command center and warehouse in Harvey, La.The project focused on five roof system types:
“The Stormseal film was determined to be an excellent supplement to the FEMA Operation Blue Roof program as it would allow homeowners who are typically disqualified from the program to stay in their homes until permanent repairs can be made,” Brown explains. “FEMA hotel, tent and trailer costs would be significantly reduced by eliminating the need for temporary relocation of homeowners. And community displacement could be mitigated, enabling residents and communities to recover more quickly.”
The on-site installation time to seal a roof averaged two to three hours.
“Because there are fewer fasteners and the battens that anchor the film in place do not require installation into the roof, there is also minimal roof damage caused by the installation itself,” Brown says. “Homeowners were pleased with the protection and longevity of the material, which is estimated to last more than one year. Crews also benefit from reduced height-related safety hazards because welding can be performed on the ground.”
Although the 2022 hurricane season has been relatively quiet, it only takes one storm to make a season historic. From damaging winds and heavy rain to power outages and widespread flooding, hurricanes create devastation often requiring years of recovery. Fortunately for homeowners, the CMR Construction & Roofing storm disaster recovery crew is ready to lend a hand.
“For 20 years, CMR Construction & Roofing has been dedicated to helping communities, homeowners and businesses recover from the devastation caused by severe storms,” Brown says. “The Hurricane Dorian and Stormseal pilot projects exemplify the purpose behind our mission. The opportunity to be part of rebuilding a community after such a destructive event is a truly rewarding experience.”
CHRYSTINE ELLE HANUS is Professional Roofing’s associate editor and an NRCA director of communications.
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