Roofing contractors based in North Carolina and South Carolina have taken to social media in the last few days addressing Hurricane Florence's anticipated arrival — and the damage likely to result.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Hurricane Center, the storm is currently a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 130 mph. It’s expected to deliver tropical-storm-force winds by noon Thursday to North Carolina’s coast, followed by hurricane-force winds and dangerous storm surges by late Thursday or early Friday.
Federal Emergency Management Agency Associate Administrator Jeff Byard said earlier today that the storm will deliver a “Mike Tyson punch to the Carolina coast.”
And while today is deemed as the best time to evacuate, many roofers stood their ground as long as they could — and took to Facebook to talk about the hurricane, both as it arrives and after it leaves.
United Contractors Roofing of Myrtle Beach, S.C. posted two videos on Monday, both aimed at helping people understand the evacuation process.
“It was just a way for us to remind people that we’ll be there to help when they get back but right now there are more important things to worry about,” Corey Kalinowski, sales manager, United Contractors Roofing, told Roofing Contractor.
In one video, United Contractors Roofing talked largely about evacuation zones in the region.
In a second video, the team talked mostly about how to prepare a house for a major storm like Hurricane Florence.
The team also reminded viewers that it will be ready to go when the storm passes.
Kalinowski said that earlier in the week, United Contractors Roofing received many calls from area residents who wanted to get on a list for repairs in anticipation of damages.
“I’ve been calls on my personal phone from people — I’m not even sure if I was referred to them, or how they got my contact information — saying ‘Hi, my name is Bob, I live in Murrells Inlet, I just want to say when we get back in town can you put me on a list to be checked first?”’”
“Right now, I think it’s kind of a peace of mind thing for some people, most people don’t think about it first,” he said.
By Wednesday, calls had slowed, he said, as many are leaving, or already have left and all eyes turn to news reports with hopes to get the latest info about the storm.
Kalinowski said the team at United Contractors Roofing will disperse outside of the area as the storm arrives and return ready to work as soon as it’s all clear to do so.
“All of our vehicles, trucks and trailers and things like that, are secured on higher ground or we have hotel chains that have let us use their high rise parking structures,” he said. “We have our equipment protected as much as we can, but it’s a waiting game, like everybody else, to see how much we’re going to be able to access people.”
United Contractors wasn’t the only company in the area trying to reach out to people to talk about Hurricane Florence and relying largely on social media to do so.
Reeves Construction of Roebuck, S.C. also posted a brief video to its Facebook page reminding people of basic prep steps and reminding people that after the storm the company will offer “free tarps to inspect your property once the storm has settled.”
On Tuesday, the company also created a blog post on its website to help people prepare for the pending storm.
Carolina Roofing & Vinyl Siding LLC of Clayton, N.C. posted a message to its Facebook page.
“As Hurricane Florence strengthens heading toward NC, the safety of our customers, staff, and community is a top priority to us. We urge everyone to follow protective guidelines given by local officials and take shelter. Should you unfortunately experience damage during this storm, feel comfortable knowing that there is a company out there that has your best interest in hand with little effort from you as the homeowner as possible. Let us walk you through the process of your storm related needs.”
Alliance Roofing of South Carolina LLC of Hilton Head, S.C. offered a brief message.
“Continue to be safe and remember regardless of the predictions, the storm can do what it wants to do. We will be standing by if you need us.”
WNC Roofing LLC of Arden, N.C. posted a message to its Facebook page mid-morning today.
"The latest NOAA models of #Florence show WNC and the Upstate receiving tropical storm winds and severe rain for several days. Now is the time to prepare.
"How can you take preventative measure for your commercial roof? While it may be too late to schedule your bi-annual roof maintenance, you can still do quick maintenance ahead of the storm. Remember that safety is paramount, so only do these preparations if the weather permits. Be mindful that the membrane can be slick if there is any moisture.
- The most important items to check are your gutters and roof drains. Remove any debris. Check for any standing water, and locate the cause.
- Check for any other loose items on the roof and secure if you are able.
- Call WNC Roofing if you have any questions or an issue arises.
- Roofing contractors- please remember to take care of your existing clients first.
Charlotte, N.C.-based Atlantic Construction and Roofing also posted mid-morning Wednesday about the hurricane.
"Atlantic Construction and Roofing is here for you and your property needs! Please be careful and safe during the next few days as Hurricane Florence takes aim to our regions. We offer a tarp service to protect your home and can help you through the insurance process the whole way! We are praying for everyone in the direct path!"
Derek Fee, manager of corporate communications, IKO, offered tips for how contractors should use social media when a storm like Hurricane Florence is approaching. (IKO co-authored a Roofing Contractor feature in 2016 about how contractors should be use social media.)
His suggestions are as follows:
- Stop posting/pause all ads on social media about their services/products, given that social media is used to check on family and friends to ensure that everyone is safe. Users won't care about a contracting company's sales/promotions, they will be using social media to connect with their loved ones, and users may feel negatively to companies that are pushing sales over emotional comfort.
- Share and post weather updates from local news outlets with tips on how to stay safe in the weather.
- Provide tips or steps on how a homeowner can best protect your roof before a storm.
- During a crisis, businesses should use their social media page to show that they care about their community and clients.
- Post storm, it's appropriate for contracting companies to post about roof damage assessment services while remaining sensitive to the issue on social media.
If you have a story idea as it relates to the roofing industry and Hurricane Florence, or any hurricane, we want to hear from you. Email Managing Editor Andrew Dietderich at firstname.lastname@example.org.