Repair companies flooded with work

Brad Vaughn, a Kentucky Farm Bureau agent in Casey County, found it easy to empathize with his customers who called about flood damage this past weekend. Vaughn himself was left without an office after the storm that ravaged the southeastern United States moved through town.

"We basically lost everything on our first floor," he said Friday, the same day that telephone service was restored for his office. In the meantime, customers were directed to a state hotline while Vaughn set up shop in the county extension office and then in a mobile unit outside his office.

"We're nowhere near what some of the people were losing," he said. "There are a lot of people that aren't back up and running and won't be for quite some time.

And for them to get back to the norm has meant call after call to local repair people, who have brought in extra help to deal with all the added customers this week.

The first wave of customers hit hardware stores on Sunday, as torrential rains continued around the Bluegrass State.

"By the end of the day Sunday, we didn't have a pump or a thing left," said Bill Edwards, co-owner of Chevy Chase Hardware, which is around an older neighborhood that saw plenty of basement issues. "We essentially sold every sump pump and hose and downspout and squeegee and anything we had related to moving water."

And the calls for help are still coming in to businesses like Roto-Rooter, which specializes in more than just clogged drains. A typical Roto-Rooter weekend includes 30 calls. This past weekend saw 100, said Christian Dunning, general manager in Lexington.

"It's still going on now. It's just a matter of we've got so many calls that we can't necessarily get to everybody," he said.

The Lexington franchise of ServiceMaster, which specializes in disaster restoration, brought in extra crews, said Daniel Meekins, director of business development.

"We have eight crews normally, and now we have about double that," he said.

The most memorable call they fielded, he said, was from a woman who told them that when the repair person arrived, her husband would bring him over in the boat.

"We thought they were joking," he said, "but they literally were going to and from their location in a boat because the water was 4 feet deep."

The Better Business Bureau of Central Kentucky and well-established repair people caution residents to check out the references of people who drive around looking for work after disasters.

Bubba Monroe, owner of Lexington's ZKB Construction, said a friend of his in Nashville almost was a victim.

The friend's office building had 4 feet of water in it, and repair people "were going to charge him $45,000 for a $10,000 job."

"Unfortunately, when disaster happens, the sharks come out," said Monroe, who's traveling there Monday to do the repairs.

"When I need something done, I go to a reputable company because if something goes wrong, I've got somebody to holler at."