The Gulf Coast can’t catch a break this year, with Hurricane Zeta becoming the fifth named storm to strike Louisiana in 2020. The silver lining, at least according to Duxworth Roofing & Sheet Metal Office Manager Madeline St. Angelo, is that the hurricane didn’t stick around for long.
“It was pretty bad, but if it would’ve moved any slower we would’ve had a lot more damage to homes, but it was in and out of here in a few hours,” she said. “It was a lot of damage, though.”
Hurricane Zeta made landfall as a Category 2 hurricane on Oct. 28, and is reported to have caused around $3.2 billion in damages in the United States. Roofing contractors in the Gulf Coast have been slammed with work due to the back-to-back hurricanes. Louisiana in particular is still working to recover from Hurricane Laura, which devastated the area in August, as well as Hurricane Delta, which struck in early October.
Located in Chamette, La., Duxworth Roofing is in the area directly affected by Zeta. The contractor had to hire additional crewmembers to keep up with the demand, and as of Nov. 10, was telling customers it would handle their roofs in a week’s time.
“It’s about three, four times as much work,” St. Angelo said. “You can only do so much in a day, so you just have to ask people to be patient and get to them when you can get to them.”
The influx of work isn’t the only issue causing delays. In addition to the barrage of hurricanes, roofing contractors in the area are dealing with supply chain issues. St. Angelo said Duxworth Roofing now has to wait three to four days before a supply delivery is made, whereas it normally expects a delivery to arrive the next day.
Even roofing contractors who aren’t directly working in the hurricane-battered areas are feeling the effects. Roof Crafters in Hammond, La., is roughly four hours away from the coastline, but the severe storms are still taking a toll on its resources.
“Contractors from all over the country are coming to Louisiana and down to the coast to work, so material has been extremely hard to come by,” said Mike Warren, director of operations. “We don’t just buy whatever material we can get our hands on, we buy a very specific brand and family of products when we install our roofs, and that has really put a hamper on what we do out in the field, because material has been hard to come by.”
Materials aren’t the only issue affecting roofing contractors. The workforce shortage has been an issue for years in the industry, but between the COVID-19 pandemic and the above-average storm season, it’s only been exasperated in the South.
“All these guys, they’re going to the coast because there is so much work to be had, and because there’s so many contractors coming in from all over the country, they’re just paying whatever these guys are asking for their labor price,” Warren said. “Some of our guys are just jumping ship to make a buck."
Roofing contractors around the country are dealing with a third wave of COVID-19 as well. Louisiana seems to be avoiding the third wave for the time being, offering a modicum of relief to contractors in a time where delay claims are spiking due to COVID-19.