Water, Fire, & Mold Restoration Blog


Flood damage destroys local restaurant

California Grill is a popular hang out and eatery for many of the local people in the area, who enjoy the delicious food and welcoming atmosphere. Recently, however, residents have had to forego their favourite meals due to water damage and flooding caused by the most unlikely of sources.

Jennifer Winsor, the manager at California Grill, had no idea that there was even a problem at the Grill until she was contacted at home by the local firefighting team, who informed her that one of the sprinklers in the ceiling had become frozen. This had then broken one of the pipes, and eventually flooded the entire building with water. The firefighters had discovered the basement three inches deep in water. The damage that was caused has taken over $200,000 to repair, and the process is not completely over yet.

One of the most heartbreaking aspects of this story is that the frozen pipe itself should never have happened – it was usually heated, ensuring that it could stay nice and warm without freezing and causing so much damage. In fact, in the last decade of operating amongst us, this is the first time that it has ever happened, and the long term repairs are only just beginning. Several pieces of kitchen equipment, none of them cheap, have also got to be replaced.

“There’s going to be, you know, a lot of painting, refinishing, flooring, a lot of that is still undecided at this stage,” said Jennifer Winsor. Of course, as well as decoration, it is vital to the wellbeing of the California Grill that they work hard to ensure that nothing like this happens again, so they can be confident in the knowledge that they will never receive a phone call like that from their local firefighters again.

Flooding hits Ventura Pier

Residents of Ventura were saddened to discover that the high surf and rough waves of the last few hours have damaged Ventura Pier, leading it to be closed completely as the waves continued to pound against it – and some are even calling it the ‘largest surf event of the season’.

Unprecedented levels of waves have caused damage to the pier, to the extent that there are now fears that the structure itself may be compromised. Police officers were required to ensure that everyone evacuated the pier when it was realised that it may no longer be as safe as usual, and it was then closed to the public at around seven o’clock in the morning. Aerial views have shown that although the pier has definitely lost some of the wooden posts within its structure, it is still standing.

No one is expecting the pier to be opened while it is in this delicate condition, especially as the waves and the surf are remaining very high. In fact, the ocean has continued to batter nearby homes to the pier that are within reach now of the strong waves, and some of the surf heights that are being recorded are being described as up to fifteen feet high by locals of the area. Everyone is being warned to stay away from the sea, especially as the current state increases the likelihood of rip currents and sneaker waves, both very dangerous phenomena. Those who are inexperienced swimmers have also been advised to stay out of the water.

Experts believe that by Saturday, the surf will decrease to normal levels, but until that time is realised, all residents of Ventura can do is wait and see what sort of state their Pier will be in when it is all over.

Documenting Mold Damage for Insurance

photo of Black mold on boardFiling an insurance claim for mold damage can be complicated (which is why we usually handle it for our clients). Generally speaking, for mold that is caused by a burst pipe or flooding, the damage is likely covered. If, however, the mold is caused by neglect, such as a damp basement or attic, or a leaky pipe, that damage will most likely not be covered. Some insurance companies are beginning to strictly limit, and even explicitly exclude, coverage for mold damage, even if the mold is caused by an event that is otherwise covered.

While there is no substitute for prevention when it comes to mold, sometimes things happen that are outside of your control. When mold damage does occur, thorough documentation of the extent of the damage, the cause of the mold, and remediation efforts will improve your chances of having the damage covered.

When you experience sudden water damage, the first thing you need to do is stop the flow of water and remove as much water as you can. Remember, most insurance companies will not cover mold damage if they can prove that it was caused by any neglect on your part. The next thing you need to do is immediately contact your insurance adjuster and be sure you know exactly what they require of you.

Get a notebook and use it to document everything that occurs in relation to your water and mold damage. Start with the details of the event that led to the damage and all of your cleanup efforts, starting with removing the water.

As you go, also be sure to document every communication with the insurance company, including date, time, who you spoke with, and the content of the communication. Keeping a detailed log of everything will keep you focused and organized, and make sure you don’t forget any request made by the insurance company or what information you’ve provided them.
Remove all undamaged or repairable items and move to a safe, well-ventilated, and dry place. Your insurance company may require you to hold off on permanent repairs until they can evaluate the damage, but they will want you to take reasonable steps to prevent further damage. Make lists of all damaged items and take plenty of photographs, whether items are salvageable or not. In order to prove losses, you may want to hold off on discarding unsalvageable items until cleared by your insurance adjuster.

Get an envelope, and put all of your receipts in it. Your insurance company may require you to not make permanent repairs until they have assessed the damage, but you may need to make temporary repairs in order to prevent further damage. You’ll need your receipts to prove these expenses.

Insurance companies are notorious for finding reasons to deny claims. By thoroughly documenting every step of the process, you’ll arm yourself to negotiate successfully, or to file a legal suit if your claim is still denied.

If you are in the San Diego area, and would like help documenting your mold damage, and dealing with insurance, call us at (619) 376-6838

By |March 2nd, 2016|Mold, News|0 Comments

Flooding in Missouri may not be natural disaster

The flooding in Missouri has reached levels rarely ever seen before in the area, but scientists and other experts are starting to make statements that suggest that the excess water in the area is not due to natural causes, but in fact the opposite: that it could all be down to the choices and decisions that we as humans are making.

Robert Criss, PhD, is a professor of Earth and Planetary sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, and he has dedicated a huge amount of time into understanding exactly how we as a species have affected the natural weather patterns around us. He has also stated that “People want to blame the rain, but this is mostly us”, describing the Missouri flooding as ‘a manmade disaster’.

The Meramec and Mississippi rivers are the ones that have flooded giving the most damage to the surrounding areas, especially in late December – and experts have said that the three days of continuous rain that preceded it was not the actual source of the flooding. The Washington University has in fact released their own statement, arguing that the flooding is a direct consequence of the development projects that have sprung up all along the Meramec and its other tributaries, which have pushed the water levels up unnaturally. Their studies have shown them that the riparian borders around the rivers were completely destroyed by the developments, preventing any further rain from being absorbed by the rivers.

Things only got worse when Storm Goliath arrived at the end of December 2015, dropped up to ten inches of rain across the local area, and this was what, at first, seemed to create the flooding issues – but further analysis has proven that the rain in fact only increased the watershed by five percent. It was easy for most people to watch the storm come in, and then immediately blame the flooding that followed it on that storm, but the experts have revealed that the reality is a lot more complex than that.

“I think there was significant magnification of the flood levels on the Meramec by recent developments near the river,” Professor Robert Criss said. “Sure it rained a lot, but what happened here cannot be explained by the rainfall alone.” Visiting scholar Mingming Luo of the China University of Geosciences in Wuhan, China, has been watching the water levels for a while to better understand the way that the natural water systems and being affected by human interactions, and has been considering the last few months in the region as though it were a large experiment.

The developments along the Meramec river that Professor Robert Criss has been examining include a three mile long levee that has been created literally parallel and alongside the river itself, filling up the floodplain that was naturally alongside the river which provided a natural release when the river become too flooded. The development has greatly interfered with the natural way that the river tried to relieve any pressure that it was put under, which now means that it only takes a small amount of water for there to be catastrophic effects.

It’s easy, in a way, for people to try to blame the natural weather systems that encounter our local areas, because it then takes away any of the pressure that could be put on us to change as a species. After all, it is only through the developments and the changes in our natural environments that we enact and force on the world around us that we start to realise just how much damage we can create, almost without realising it.

“The heavy rainfall was probably related to El Niño, and possibly intensified by global warming. But new records were set only in areas that have undergone intense development, which is known to magnify floods and shorten their timescales,” continued Professor Robert Criss. His understanding of exactly what happened has started to change the way that we understand developing the local area for progress, when in actuality it can reduce our ability to progress because we will then be in danger of flooding and other natural disasters.

One terrible and catastrophic example of this was the New Year’s flood which followed that large storm that arrived at the end of December 2015. Over seven thousand buildings in the St. Louis area were damaged, requiring repair, forcing people out of their homes, and forcing businesses to close down for repairs. Not one but two interstate highways were closed for almost a week, preventing essential travel that was required in order to repair much of the damage that the local community had suffered. Valley Park and everyone who lived within and around it were forced to be evacuated them, leaving them homeless at just the sort of time when you want to feel safe and secure – and perhaps most dangerous of all, not one but two Metropolitan Sewer District plants were so flooded that they were forced to dump the sewage straight into the water.

More than twenty people lost their lives during this time of flooding and natural disaster, and it created several hundred million dollars worth of repairs. The debris that it left has been estimated at millions of tons, and will require a huge cleanup process in order to return the local area back to normal – and it all can be followed back to a simple development beside a river.

By |February 24th, 2016|Flood, News, Water Damage|0 Comments

Most Unprepared US States for Potential Flooding

flood response team on stree

Flooded street

In the United States, floods are among the most frequent and costly natural disasters. And many States, such as California, Texas and Mississippi, are at high-risk, whether Illinois and Ohio are some of the poorest states that are prepared of an inland flooding.Across the country, the extreme weather conditions pose a significant risk to the economy of the US, as well as the lives of many people and infrastructure and the cost of recovery. But how well is every state ready, in order to be able to deal with these kind of possible disasters?

The American Report Card gives some answers for the States that are at risk. The report card of preparedness focuses on the changing nature of key threads and the crucial levels of how prepare are the 50 states within America. States were scored on an A through F grading on five distinct climate related threads: drought, wildfires, extreme heat and coastal flooding. The main goal of the American Report Card is to help these State to be improved, in case they will face a possible thread in the future, by recognizing certain risks they face. In fact, they focus on building an action plan and at the same time find the ways to be implemented.

More specifically the States actions were evaluated in five crucial sectors, suchs as: Energy, Water, Health, Transportation and Communities and there were also given grades, from A to F in each State, in order to evaluate each state. For example, California is evaluated with A, which means that took the highest preparedness scores in all threat categories. On the other hand, the lowest grades were given to Texas, Missouri, Arkansas and Nevada, where little to no action has been taken in case of climate change conditions.

In addition, the report also focuses on major issues that states must address on a policy level as it relates to citizen vulnerability. Improvised populations (the majority of who are under the age of 5 or the elderly) are the very vulnerable ones, in case of any change in the climate, which usually exacerbates hunger and access to water during the times of extreme heat.

Florida and Louisiana face risks of coastal flooding, which is far greater than any of the other 22 coastal states. Only Florida has 4.6 million people, which are projected at risk, whether Louisiana has 1.2 million. According to the climate report, states are better prepared for floods in coastal areas, but also Texas, compared to other coastal areas, faces an average flooding too.

This study was conducted by research group Climate Central in collaboration with consulting firm ICF International. The Climate Central is a non-profit organization, which is consisted of scientists and journalists, that are making researches over climate changes and report their results to the American public. Moreover, the data that are reported by this report give all the necessary information, as well as it’s a good starting point, in order state leaders to begin taking some actions, as to protect their people and economies from the very real threat of climate change.

If you are experiencing a flood damage in Southern California, and need help, call (619) 376-6838.

By |February 15th, 2016|News|0 Comments

Understanding El Niño

Satellite photo of el niñoEl Nino tends to get the blame for many catastrophic hurricanes like Patricia, severe blizzards, and other major storms. But it also influences weather on a smaller, more day to day, scale as well.

A stronger than usual El Nino could extend certain weather patterns. NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) is predicting a 95% chance that the current system will last through the 2015-2016 winter and gradually taper off through the following spring.

El Nino, and its counterpart La Nina, are weather patterns found in the Equatorial Pacific. El Nino systems are characterized by warmer than usual water temperatures in this area, while La Nina systems are characterized by cooler than usual water temperatures in the area. El Nino frequently gets both credit and blame for causing heavy rainfall and destructive flooding in the southern United States and oppressive drought in the West Pacific.

Insurance agents in many areas are taking advantage of El Nino and talking with clients and prospects about insurance coverage for their property, but El Nino isn’t the only time agents and brokers should have these conversations. As we get into the coldest part of winter, agents need to talk with their clients about inspecting roofs and cleaning out gutters before spring rains begin.

According to Jim Gustin, Travelers Insurance Risk Control Department’s property technical director sees the current predictions of El Nino lasting until spring as providing an excellent opportunity for agents to encourage clients to ensure they are prepared for potentially heavy rains and to ensure they have sufficient coverage in place. If you aren’t sure whether you are covered in the event of water damage from flooding, you should call your insurance agent and find out.

Evaluating Flood Risk

You may also want to ask your agent to review your deductibles and coverage, especially if you live near a body of water or in a low lying area. Standard homeowners insurance typically does not cover damage from floods, so you’ll likely need to purchase flood insurance, if you haven’t already. You’ll also need to know how much coverage you have for the contents of your home under your flood policy.

One of the most important factors in emergency planning for any property is evaluating flood risk. Once you know what your flood risk is, then you can go about determining what you have to do to mitigate that risk as much as possible. Ask yourself:

  • Will your sump pump keep running if you lose power?
  • Do you have an emergency generator to power your sump pump to protect your property in the event of a power outage?
  • Are there back pump preventers on sewer drains in your area to prevent debris from flowing back into your building?

Some parts of the country could see winter delayed, thanks to El Nino, but could also find the cold weather lasting longer. It’s not just property damage you need to be concerned about. In Northeast and mid-Atlantic areas, sleet, freezing rain, and heavy snow are normal. Shoveling snow may be part of your winter routine, but how much thought do you give to removing ice from your driveway and the sidewalk in front of your house? If someone falls, you could be liable for their injuries, especially if your town has an ordinance requiring you to keep sidewalks near your property clear of hazards. It’s always a good idea to remove ice from your driveways and sidewalks, even if you aren’t required to.

When you lease property, maintaining the property is typically the responsibility of the owner, but you should still be careful to keep sidewalks, parking lots, and other walking areas safe. You should also be alert to any signs of deterioration due to rain, flooding, ice, snow, or normal wear, so any repairs can be made before weather turns bad.

Inspect Your Roof

If there are any trees near your house, you may want to trim them and remove any dead branches so they cannot fall on the building. Be sure to trim back any branches that could break and cause damage.

You also want to inspect your roof flashing to ensure it is in good condition and secured to keep out water and to protect the roof covering from wind damage.

While you’re looking at your roof, you should be alert to maintenance issues that could increase the potential for roof damage in severe weather. Some things to look for include:

  • Bubbles
  • Missing gravel (flat roofs)
  • Shingles or tiles that are missing or damaged
  • Any deviations in your roof covering
  • Any looseness where the roof covering or flashing attaches to the building

There are different designs in roofs to prevent water accumulation, but regardless of whether you have gutters, downspouts, or roof drains, be sure they are clear of debris which can impede drainage and potentially lead to roof collapse. Check your downspouts to ensure they actually drain water away from your building and not into your basement or crawl space.

Business owners in particular should inspect roofs every month to check for dirt and debris, damage from storms, or even items left behind or damage caused by contractors who may be on the roof to service HVAC systems.

Year End Review

It’s a good idea for anyone to review their insurance policies every year to ensure the policy still meets your needs. Have you purchased any new property or valuable items, or received such items as gifts, in the past year that should be covered? If you haven’t, or if the contents of your home have changed significantly, take an inventory of all your personal property. The easiest way to do this is with a video camera. Your smartphone is probably capable of this. Be sure to inventory all closets and drawers, as well as anything you have stored in the basement, attic, or garage, and any outdoor items you own, such as patio furniture, planters, and lawn and garden equipment.

To help you with this task, many insurance companies offer inventory software, or you can probably find an app for your smartphone for this purpose. Most of these programs will store your inventory in the cloud, so you can access it from anywhere, and doesn’t have to be transferred if you trade in your phone.


Do you have an emergency plan in place? If not, you need to sit down with your family and figure out what to do in an emergency. How will you get in touch with your family members if disaster strikes when one or more of you aren’t home? Where will you meet if you get separated? Think about how you will get elderly or disabled family members, as well as small children, to safety, especially if you might have to evacuate them from an upstairs window.

Do you have a battery powered radio and enough flashlights? Are the batteries working and do you have extras? You’ll need the flashlights if the power goes out, and the radio will keep you notified of any local announcements.

Emergencies can be especially difficult for small businesses because they often do not have written emergency plans. When disaster strikes, they may not be able to recover.

Planning ahead is the key to being prepared for any emergency, for individuals, families, and businesses.


If you are in the San Diego area, and in need of help recovering from a Fire or Flood, call us at (619) 376-6838.

Los Angeles Dumps Needed El Niño Rainwater Into The Ocean To Prevent Flood Damage

No city is better prepared for flooding than Los Angeles. El Niño is testing that city’s ability to overcome short-term flooding and the massive flood damage that could result if the system fails. But as Los Angeles deals with a changing climate over the long term, will its strategy of dumping flood water into the ocean continue to make sense — especially since there’s a drought and that water could be put to good use?

Los Angeles has been working to better deal with El Niño events since 1938. That’s the year when a flood ripped the city apart and killed 49 people while doing $40 million in damage. That catastrophe led to the creation of the Los Angeles River’s 51-mile concrete viaduct.

Heavy winter storms in Southern California are common, and not just in El Niño years. After four years of drought and in the face of a climate that’s clearly changing, does this effort to limit flood damage from extreme storms do more harm than good?

Simply put, infrastructure put in place to solve one problem may cause or worsen another.

El Niño has impacted the Pacific Northwest most heavily this winter, but meteorologists expect the pattern to shift southward and bring greater impacts to Los Angeles, San Diego and the rest of Southern California.

And Los Angeles is ready for the short-term event. Crews have cleared debris from the channel and websites have been put up to make sure residents know how to prevent flood damage. The sites push things like cleaning drains, knowing how to get sandbags and stocking up on essentials as well as emergency supplies. Warnings have been circulated in the areas most prone to flood damage in the past. Portable traffic barriers are in place if needed.

If things work as planned, all the water from El Niño events will quickly move out of the city — and into the Pacific Ocean. Capturing it for future use isn’t possible at the moment. While storm water goes into the ocean, water for use comes in from the drier-than-ever Sierra Nevada Mountains and the drought-strained Colorado River.

By |January 30th, 2016|News|0 Comments

While Much Of Northeast Digs Out From Snowstorm, Jersey Shore Faces Flood Cleanup

The massive snowstorm that blanketed much of the Northeast over January’s fourth weekend turned into a different problem for the Jersey Shore: flooding. As the storm system moved northward along the East Coast, attention turned to coastal flooding as warnings were issued for Delaware and New Jersey as well as the south coast of Long Island.

Southern New Jersey was expected to see the worst coastal flooding and erosion, leading to flood damage and perhaps a significant cleanup effort. A record storm surge was predicted in some areas. But officials attempted to stay ahead of the storm. They arranged for the creation of sand dunes and told first responders to stand by.

With the devastation of Hurricane Sandy just three years ago, officials understand the damage potential from wind and rain and the flood damage that results. Residents are still shell-shocked, in some cases, from what they witnessed then.

flood damage hurricane sandy

Flood damage from hurricane sandy

Gov. Chris Christie, also a presidential candidate, issued a state of emergency declaration on Friday and departed from his planned campaign activities to return to New Jersey. Christie said he returned to the state before the rain or snow even started.

Residents in some areas were urged to stay in place and get ready. The message from Matt Doherty, mayor of Belmar, was to “hunker down” and be prepared for whatever might happen.

While officials cautioned that the flood damage would not rise to the level of that caused by Superstorm Sandy, they also advised that the flood threat wasn’t to be taken lightly.

Christie labeled those residents who were fighting the installation of protective sand dunes as selfish, given that the dunes are a proven and necessary way to protect residents from flood damage. He also expressed the greatest concern for those living on the barrier islands of the Jersey Shore.

By |January 25th, 2016|Flood, News|0 Comments

Mid-January Brings Big Rains And Snow To Northwestern United States

Mid-January 2016 brings continued storminess to the West Coast, a result of El Niño. This time, the storminess is across the northwestern portion of the coast where things had been off to a dry start. This pattern shift eases conditions in the southeastern United States — temporarily.

The threat of flood damage is real for those in the Pacific Northwest and northern California, according to meteorologists. From Seattle down to northern California, heavy rains are expected to be enough to renew a flooding threat. It had been relatively dry in the Seattle and Medford, Oregon areas in the beginning of January, but the ground is still saturated from heavy rain in December, leading to the flooding risk.

That area received more than double its usual amount of rainfall in December.

There is a risk of ponding, hydroplaning and other road hazards related to the rain for those traveling on I-5 from northern California all the way to Canada. Winds could also gust as high as 40 miles per hour.

Still, the rainfall helps the continuing drought situation in the region.

This round of rain is expected to largely bypass San Diego and the rest of Southern California and the Southwest, where some residents and businesses are still cleaning up flood damage and mudslides caused by heavy rains and storms in January’s first week.

While the worst impacts in the Northwest will be confined to the coastal areas, there will be enough cold air blanketing the region for precipitation in the eastern parts of Washington and Oregon to turn to snow in the mountains. A mix of rain and snow is expected in many areas, with some places getting rain in the daytime and snow after dark when temperatures drop.

El Niño and its extreme impacts are far from over, with the greatest potential for more flood damage along the East Coast this season in coastal areas and in low-lying areas where flooding has happened in previous heavy rain events.

By |January 23rd, 2016|News|0 Comments

Everyday Safety Tips to Help Prevent Home Fires

Every year in the U.S., hundreds of thousands of home fires cause thousands of deaths and injuries and millions of dollars in property damage. Many of the home fires are completely preventable if the right steps are taken. Since most home fires are caused by daily activities, taking a proactive approach and exercising mindfulness can play a big part in home fire prevention.

Inspect the Home for Hazards

Faulty wiring and overloaded electric outlets can cause house fires that may begin undetected. Clutter around hot water heaters, gas systems, and space heaters also create a hazardous environment conducive to fires. Inspecting the home for these types of hazards and minimizing the risks can help keep your family and home safe. If the home is older, it may be prudent to hire a professional to inspect the wiring and gas lines for safety.

Be Mindful When Cooking

Most home fires start with someone cooking. Cooking automatically introduces fire hazards, so it is very important to prepare your area before cooking and to be aware throughout the entire cooking process. Clean any grease or debris that is on burners or in the oven before firing these appliances up. Be sure to keep potholders, towels, and other flammable objects and substances away from heat and flames while cooking. If you must leave the kitchen while cooking, shut off all cooking appliances.

Exercise Caution with Open Flames

Fireplaces, candles, and oil lamps can be particularly hazardous if used improperly or left unattended. Again, all flammable objects and substances should be kept well away from open flames. Before going to bed or leaving the home, be sure to put out all flames completely. When using a fireplace or decorative items with open flames, these things should be within site at all times.

Test Smoke Detectors Monthly

Smoke detectors can be annoying, but they can save lives. Smoke detectors should be tested at least once a month and the batteries should be changed as necessary. If smoke detectors are not present in the home, they are inexpensive to purchase and easy to install.

Prepare for Fire

Preparing for fire by procuring fire extinguishers, having an evacuation plan, and knowing how to get in touch with emergency and restoration services in the area can prevent tragedies and save heartache in the event of a fire. If the fire cannot be put out with fire extinguishers or spreads too fast, an evacuation plan can help to keep the family safe from harm. After the family has been safely evacuated, emergency services should be contacted. Once the fire has been safely extinguished, calling restoration services as soon as possible will help minimize the damage to the home and belongings.

By |January 22nd, 2016|News|0 Comments