DECATUR — Hurricane Irma left devastation in its wake and empty shelves in stores as Floridians struggle to rebuild their lives.
Florida restoration companies have been contacting Peerless Cleaning and Restoration Services and similar companies that rent equipment after the hurricane wiped out their inventories. Peerless filled two delivery trucks with 50 dehumidifiers and 200 air movers to begin the drying out process. The trucks left Wednesday morning, and another shipment is planned for Thursday.
“If I can send equipment down there to help people, that’s great,” said Todd Garner, vice president for Peerless Cleaning and Restoration Services. “That’s what they need right now.”
Hurricane victims must first endure the emotionally and physically taxing job of sorting through their belongings. Having experienced many disasters, Garner said he understands that calling an insurance agent is not always the first thought.
“They are just wanting help in moving stuff out of their house,” he said. “But you can’t just take their stuff and dump it.”
According to financial website Bloomberg.com, Hurricane Irma's insured losses are predicted to be $13 billion. As the floodwaters retreat, moisture promotes the growth of mold and other organisms, increasing the risk for serious health problems. Quickly drying belongings is an important first step in saving possessions and dwellings.
Peerless trucks will deliver the equipment to a northern area of Florida with plans to move farther south as the jobs are finished. Peerless will be sending half of its available dehumidifiers and air movers.
The company will send employees to do restoration work as areas become ready. They are preparing to leave next week.
“Everybody is on standby,” said operations manager Charlie Cloyd, who has an eight-member crew ready. “We plan on working 14-to-16-hour days.”
Wednesday’s equipment crew will make its delivery and assess the area, with company supervisors to follow next week. Work crews will be sent as needed because many areas hit by the hurricane remain without power and businesses and homeowners are waiting on insurance adjusters.
“It is hard to go down there until you know what is going on,” Garner said. “You don’t want to go and stand around doing nothing.”