One year ago deadly storms ravaged East Tennessee and much of the southeastern United States with tornadoes, heavy rains, and hail. Lots of hail. So much hail that many people are still waiting for repairs.
"We are still about as busy as we were a year ago," said Lee Smith with Zurix Roofing and Repairs. "We have hail storms every year, but nothing that was just so widespread and such massive damage as last year."
Smith's crew keeps hammering away at repairs in West Knoxville a full 12 months after the April 2011 storms hammered the region.
"Some houses are easy to tell if they have not been repaired, but mostly it is something you have to really get up there and inspect," said Smith. "We have some new customers who did not notice damage immediately after the storm, but as the year went along they started getting leaks. Another reason we are still so busy is a lot of customers specifically wanted us to do the repairs and were willing to wait for someone they could trust."
Smith said other business has been generated by the shoddy work of other companies.
"We do a lot of repair work to roofs that were just replaced. There are a lot of companies that came into town and are gone now, so these people who are
having leaks have to find somebody else. We have actually done
four roofs that were completely replaced by another company," said Smith. "We expect to be busy for another six months from last April's storm."
The overwhelming numbers from the April 2011 storm stays seared in the memories of insurance agents. At William Knight Insurance in Knoxville, the storm is simply referred to by the date's numeric nickname.
"We call it the 4-27 storm," said Chris Knight, president of William Knight Insurance. "It was quite chaotic, I think is the best way to describe it. We are not affiliate with one specific insurance company, so we work with around 25 different providers. But our customers just come to us, so then we have had to work with all of these agencies during an unprecedented cat loss [catastrophic loss]."
Some insurance companies such as State Farm have a one year deadline to file claims for storm damage. Then customers are given another year to actually complete the work. State Farm Agent Mike Smith said about 90 percent of the claims filed from last year have been repaired.
"It was kind of like taking a drink from a fire hose is what it felt like in April," said Smith. "It was just so big. You know it was 60,000 claims just for State Farm in this area. That's about two years worth of claims."
A few new claims continue to roll in from the "4-27 storm." However, most of the ongoing repairs are people with damaged roofs on homes or vehicles.
"We still repair about five to six cars per week from last year's storm and we are booked through July," said David Maples, owner of Tennessee Collision Center in Alcoa. "We only book up to 90 days out, but we still have a list of several hundred [customers to be scheduled after July], so it very well may run through the end of this year."
Maples said the majority of the vehicles require roof panel replacements.
"That type of roof work is not a quick repair. That storm, it was just something that has been unprecedented and I don't think anybody involved in this industry was prepared for this," said Maples.
"The consensus on the street is another six to eight months, most of this work should be done," said Knight. "That is, assuming we don't get slammed with another large storm."