Several feet of Schuylkill River overflow water surrounding River Walk residential complex and Giant supermarket.

Disaster Repair: From Recovery to Rebuild

When we hear the word “construction,” we may tend to think of new builds or planned renovation projects, but some of the most critical construction work happens in response to natural disasters.  In September, Hurricane Ida brought heavy rains and flooding to the greater Philadelphia area, presenting many business owners with unplanned cleanup and repair.  Over the years, Souder Brothers Construction has assisted in many of these restoration projects.  Here we’ll present some general considerations for dealing with the aftermath of uncontrollable events like hurricane storm surges, then discuss how our company in particular is uniquely suited to tackle disaster repair work.

Some natural disasters, like hurricanes, can be tracked for a few days before they hit; others, such as earthquakes, come with little to no advance warning.  No matter what type of disasters are typical of your geographical location, there are several steps your business can take to be prepared for and react appropriately to these forces of nature.

Parking garage entrance in Conshohocken, PA., with flood waters reaching the 8 foot 2 inch clearance sign
Ida caused severe flooding throughout our region. Pictured: a Conshohocken parking garage entrance with flood waters reaching the 8’2″ clearance sign. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Be Prepared

Road trips go more smoothly when you’ve mapped out the route in advance; similarly, your response to a natural disaster will go more smoothly if you have a plan in place.  Depending on factors like the size of your organization, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires you to have a verbal or written emergency plan.  Either way, this information must be communicated to your staff.  There are multiple reasons to think ahead on this front, including your bottom line: OSHA’s fines for noncompliance with their commercial preparedness regulations can be pretty steep.  Most importantly, considering these “what ifs” before they happen will help ensure the safety of the people in your building or on your property in the event of a crisis.

You can think of your Emergency Action Plan (EAP) as a natural disaster agenda: it’s a written document designed to guide the actions of management and employees during a workplace crisis.  It provides step-by-step instructions for several contingencies: fires vs. floods, evacuating vs. sheltering in place, and so on.  Your EAP should include maps and information including fire escape routes, locations of fire extinguishers, locations for sheltering in place (ex. basement during a tornado warning), and meeting points following an evacuation.  Phone numbers for your alarm/security company, the local fire department, and other relevant services should be listed, as well as internal and external reporting procedures.  The CDC and OSHA offer free templates and tools for drafting and implementing your EAP.

Having adequate emergency tools and supplies on hand is another part of being prepared.  There are the obvious and typically mandatory devices like smoke detectors and fire alarms, but consider what items may be useful in post-disaster cleanup efforts.  In the event of a flood, mops and fans can speed up the drying process to prevent the growth of mold.  General cleaning and first aid supplies like disposable gloves, sponges, and trash bags may also come in handy.


When it is safe to return to your property, survey the aftermath and note what fixtures and items are damaged and which are total losses.  Contact your insurance company to begin the claim process and determine what information they will need to process your claim.  Photos are never a bad idea for your own records, even if not required by your insurance.  If your insurer requires physical evidence of any items, hold onto and store those damaged goods as needed; otherwise, properly dispose of items that are beyond repair.  Safety remains paramount even after the natural disaster has passed, so be sure to cordon off access to dangerous areas (where structural integrity has been compromised, toxic chemicals have been spilled, etc.) until professionals can be brought in to mitigate potential threats.

Begin to Rebuild

Unless the damage is minimal, you will want to enlist the services of restoration professionals to assess the situation, provide estimates of repair costs and timelines, and to perform the disaster repair work efficiently and correctly.  This is where contacting Souder Brothers is the right move.

There are a plethora of benefits to enlisting our services in your disaster recovery efforts, including:

  • Human help: We don’t outsource our phones to software and machines.  When you call Souder Brothers, you’ll always get an actual person on the line.
  • Ready to assist: You can call us about any disaster repair situation, particularly if you’re facing a daunting project and don’t know where to start.  We’re happy to provide guidance and useful, actionable steps to take.
  • Referrals: If we aren’t equipped to perform any of the necessary repair services ourselves, we’ll put you in touch with reputable professionals who are.
  • Start to finish: In the event of flood, tornado, or hurricane damage, we can manage your whole restoration project, from tear out to rebuild

Many variables of natural disasters are beyond human control, but by making preparations to address the factors we can influence, you can make enduring and bouncing back from so-called acts of god more manageable in the long run.  When you’re ready to set out on the road to restoration, Souder Brothers Construction will be ready to assist with your disaster repair work – we’re just a phone call away.

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