The LBMDF Disaster Assistance Committee presents "Tip from a Survivor." NRLA members who experienced a fire or natural disaster at their yard relate their story and give members sound, real-world information on what to do when the unexpected occurs.

Curtis Lumber


In 2001, a microburst impacted Curtis Lumber Company’s Ballston Spa, NY location. “If you have a loss, aside from taking care of the disaster insurance wise, be sure you understand the lost profit and extra expense portions of your insurance policy, and how those two preclude you from collecting on both ends, or ‘double dipping’. Your insurance carrier can explain that right off the bat” says Jon Hallgren of Curtis.

You will want to set up a clerical person to record your peoples’ time to make repairs and to mitigate expenses for the loss. This is crucial because it is difficult to create after the fact. You should have someone recording everything and understanding your policy. It is important to negotiate the entire scope of the project before agreeing to any dollar amounts. Make sure the adjustors you are working with are fair; we stayed away from private adjustors. Look out for asbestos issues, for example with regard to roofs. You really need to know what you are doing with asbestos mitigation if you get into it.

Jon Hallgren
Curtis Lumber Company
Ballston Spa, NY
 

Ralph A. Esty & Sons


Our business is located on the banks of the Merrimack River. I grew up with stories of the floods of 1936 and 1938. My father told me of waking up in the morning and finding their home and business surrounded by water. These "100-year events" caused widespread damage and loss. Although adversely affected, my grandfather took these events in stride, mostly because he had anticipated and prepared for some worst case scenarios. After 1938, dams were established along the Upper Merrimack to control the seasonal flooding and minimize the risk. But each year we get some high water. We have developed plans based upon risk assessment. Sand bags were set aside, pumps were also assembled. In 2006, the waters kept rising. Even with all our planning, nature played havoc. Although we were flooded and had to shut down the sawmill portion of our business, we took this in stride and were back in production within a week of the receding waters. What we had not anticipated was the resultant bridge closings and loss of business due to our customers not being able to reach our location.

Review with your insurance agent loss of business coverage. Analyze the risk versus cost and make the educated choice. Take time before a loss to understand your risk. Contact your local disaster relief teams, police, fire, Red Cross, etc. Most towns have at least one trained professional. Their knowledge is priceless. If possible, assign one person on your team to meet and coordinate your programs with your local authorities. They will become the go-to people when problems occur. Prepare and have some control over the situation rather than being controlled by it.

Steve Esty 
Ralph A. Esty & Sons, Inc.
Groveland, MA

 

Poulin Lumber


During the Valentine’s Day snow storm of 2007, Poulin Lumber Inc had a building collapse under the 3+ feet of snow that fell in a 24 hr period. Even though we consistently remove the extra snow load from our buildings, the massive amount overnight proved too much for one of our structures to handle. The following morning, we were faced with cleaning up a disaster as quickly as possible to allow us to return to our normal operating capacity, and supply the material and service that our customer base relies on.

One of the most important facets of an operation such as this is to have a clear plan, and one “go to” person coordinating ALL the efforts, in order to keep the process flowing smoothly, and to keep everyone focused on a single goal; a sort of “Disaster Manager.” Without having an individual acting as a hub for the recovery, much time and money can be wasted, and confusion and inefficiency can quickly set in. We also found it imperative to have a good working relationship in both our community and our industry, as these relationships returned many timely offerings of help, clean up assistance, and general offers of good will. With these ideas behind us, we were able to clean up not only the disaster, but also the enormous storm remains in a matter of a couple days, and were back to normal operating conditions promptly.

Before rebuilding in the spring, we actively solicited ideas from ANY employee who wished to contribute to the design of a replacement building before we finalized plans, and received overwhelming feedback from our yard and inventory management staff. The results were astounding, producing a replacement building that is more efficient, safer, worker friendly, and ultimately, more profitable than our original replacement design. Staff members who utilize an asset daily often have much more insight than those of us who simply manage it.

Cory Poulin
Poulin Lumber Inc.
Derby, VT

 

Wiley Brothers


During our recovery from a 1998 tornado that passed through Wiley Bros., Inc., removing all of our roofs and leveling two buildings, it was quickly apparent to us the value of meeting once each year with our insurance agent to discuss the current values of our buildings and inventory and to adjust the policy limits accordingly.

One of the first decisions you must make immediately after a loss is whether you will use the insurance company provided adjuster or hire your own adjuster at your expense. An up-to-date policy with a reputable insurance company can make this process less painful and still yield the coverage you are entitled to without prolonged negotiations. 

 Look at your policies, know what they do and don't cover, and keep the values reasonable and up-to-date. Have the policy current and hope you never have to use it.

David Moore
Wiley Brothers, Inc.
Schaghticoke, NY