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After the hail come months of recovery

Crews continue fixing hundreds of homes in hard-hit subdivisions
Wednesday, May 3, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 8:16 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008

Nearly two months ago, hail the size of golf balls and tennis balls pelted the roof of Jay McGarraugh’s house in the Rockingham subdivision of west-central Columbia.

During the storm, McGarraugh said he worried about his roof, even though it had never been damaged in the past.

“I heard a bunch of noise upstairs, and I didn’t have any idea what was going on,” McGarraugh said. “I glanced out on my patio and there was hail that was tennis ball-size.”

The next day, McGarraugh called a State Farm Insurance representative to seek an assessment of the damage. An adjuster visited 10 days later. McGarraugh said he was “awfully pleased” at how soon State Farm was able to get there.

Unlike several of his neighbors, McGarraugh had no problem with roof leaks. But he’ll need a new roof nonetheless.

McGarraugh’s home was one of hundreds in Columbia and Boone County that sustained significant damage from the hailstorm in March. Roofs across western and northern Columbia were hit hard. Other homes sustained damage to siding, windows and trim. While a bane to homeowners, the storms have been a boon to roofers and other contractors. Columbia companies are busy meeting the demand for repairs, and out-of-town businesses have also flooded the city to cash in on the damage.

Janice Finley, business services administrator for the city Finance Department, said her office has issued business licenses to 52 contractors since the storms hit.

Joe Moseley, vice president of public affairs at Shelter Insurance, said 3,301 property claims have been reported in the Columbia and Moberly areas since the storms; 79 percent of the claims have been closed.

State Farm could provide no figures for Columbia and surrounding areas, but spokeswoman Tia Lindell said the company has received about 15,000 claims from homeowners statewide since the storms. About 85 percent of affected homes have been inspected, she said. State Farm won’t be able to provide a total estimate of damage until all the claims are processed.

The pace of repair is brisk in subdivisions that were hammered by the hail. In Valley View, Parkade and Vanderveen subdivisions, the streets are lined with contractors’ signs, stacks of shingles litter yards, and the pop of nail guns can be heard from every direction.

On Monday, workers from Precision Construction Services of Columbia were climbing ladders and combing the roof, nailing new shingles in place at McGarraugh’s home. As one of State Farm’s preferred contractors, Precision has done more than 400 damage estimates since the storms.

Carrie Mehrhoff, office manager at Precision, said the company sends seven or eight crews out every day to repair roofs. Each roof takes one or two days to finish. Since the storms, the company has hired at least four additional roofing teams, said Precision representative Monica Crew.

Mehrhoff said production has probably quadrupled in the past year, and she expects sales to double, if not triple.

“Last year, our company did about $3 million in sales,” she said. “I would expect to sell at least $9 million in supplies this year.”

About four miles north of McGarraugh’s house, Dianne and Raymond Ruetsch also experienced the heavy winds and hailstorm at their home on Cindy Lane. Black-paneled roofing littered the front yard days after the storm.

“The last time I’ve ever seen anything like that was when I was a teenager in high school,” Dianne Ruetsch said.

Since the 19-year-old house had already sustained damage in a storm last fall, the Ruetsches were already scheduled for repairs with Naugle Home Building and Remodeling Co. in April. Company owner Gary Naugle said in the wake of the storm that he would respond to those who are already customers first. The Ruetsch house was one of the first ones assessed, and damage was estimated at more than $20,000.

Now, two months later, the roofing repairs are complete, including the vaulted ceiling in the Ruetsches’ sunroom. Siding on the garden house still awaits repair, Raymond Ruetsch said Monday.

The damage means a lot of extra work for contractors.

“It’s pretty hectic,” said Jason Tarver, owner of Coulson Roofing of Columbia. “We are doing 10 times more jobs than last year.”

Missourian reporters Derrick Ho and Ryan Schreiber contributed to this report.

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