Business

Wichita dented, not broken, after storms, hail

Despite the dire predictions ahead of Tuesday’s storms, the Wichita area avoided major damage in most places.

Not everyone, however, escaped untouched.

“There is some damage to roofs that have some age to them,” Mark Eaton, owner of Wichita-based Eaton Roofing & Exteriors, said Wednesday. “For what our forecast was, we got pretty lucky.”

As a series of super-cell thunderstorms rolled through Wichita on Tuesday afternoon and evening, various parts of the city were hit with hailstones ranging from the size of a pea to about 2 inches in diameter, according to the National Weather Service in Wichita.

Weather service meteorologist Jaclyn Ritzman said the heaviest hail fell in a stretch from Haysville to downtown Wichita, though a large portion of the city received some hail.

Mike Heiland of Heiland Roofing & Exteriors said that the most damage found Wednesday morning was in south Wichita, down to Haysville.

“One of my guys reported that two homes next door to each other have roofs that are totaled in south Wichita,” Heiland said. “Typically, when you have hail golf ball-sized and larger, that’s when you’ll see damage. Golf ball-sized hail will get you.”

Eaton said roofs that are about a decade old or older typically won’t handle hail as well as the newer roofs.

Like the roofers in town, auto body businesses also were busy Wednesday.

Tracy Marsh, owner of Dent Busters on South Market, said the hail damage to vehicles is likely to be significant.

“It looks like there will be quite a bit,” Marsh said. “I was getting calls and texts with pictures (Tuesday). I’ll know more in the next few days as people get their insurance claims in.

“It’s the first hailstorm we’ve seen in a while; last year there was no hail.”

Some people without shelters for their vehicles raced to covered downtown and Old Town parking garages Tuesday afternoon.

Marsh said he has noticed over the years that American-made vehicles seem to hold up better to hail than their foreign counterparts.

“Overall, there’s probably not any make or model that holds up particularly well,” he said, “but your American-made vehicles feature recycled mixed metals, which are harder to dent.”

Hailing a storm

Everyone interviewed for this story agreed that it has been awhile since Wichita had a hailstorm like the cells that rumbled through the city on Tuesday.

“For a storm that compares to (Tuesday), we haven’t had anything in Wichita for about three years,” Eaton said. “People will remember last year, late in the year, Clearwater had a storm. El Dorado had a bad storm last spring. In the Wichita area, it’s been awhile.

“We’ll see how busy we get with this storm. Right now, it’s not that terrible.”

Eaton added that judging a hailstorm can also be difficult because the sizes of the stones aren’t uniform.

Both Heiland and Bryndon Moussavi of Diamond Dents auto body shop said it’s important for consumers to be vigilant when shopping around for repairs.

“There’s a lot of people who don’t take pride in their work, who are just interested in getting some insurance money,” Moussavi said.

Heiland, who lives in northeast Wichita, said a home in his neighborhood was recently renovated by a person who was not registered to work in Kansas.

“I always tell people to make sure that contractors are registered,” Heiland said. “It’s always best to go with a local, reputable company, because there are people that will take advantage of situations like this.”

According to a state law enacted in 2013, all roofing contractors working in Kansas must obtain a registration certificate from the Kansas Attorney General’s Office in order to legally provide roofing services for a fee. You can see the list at ag.ks.gov.

Busy insurance day

Cody Swanson, an insurance agent for Farm Bureau Financial Services, said most of the Wichita-area damage he dealt with Wednesday had to do with water.

“I’ve been running into situations where there was damage to the roof, which led to rain seeping in,” Swanson said. “Some of that has been from Park City and Wellington, but a lot is in Wichita.”

Swanson said it can sometimes take days for concerned policy-holders to call.

“People talk to their neighbors,” Swanson said. “People might not have any damage, but they find out their neighbor has damage so they might get concerned. The first call I got (Wednesday) morning was at 8 a.m.”

Swanson added that, during more severe storms in the past, he has taken calls in the middle of the night.

“The forecasts were worse than the reality in this particular situation,” Swanson said. “For the most part, I’ve heard about a lot less (damage) than I was expecting.”

State Farm spokeswoman Ann Avery said Wednesday afternoon that the insurance agency has received a number of claims from the Wichita area but that she couldn’t offer specific numbers.

Avery said policyholders who think their property has been damaged are encouraged to take photos, make reasonable temporary repairs and save any receipts from damage-related expenses.

Bob Hanson, spokesman for the Kansas Insurance Department, said residents with insurance questions are encouraged to call 800-432-2484 or visit the department’s website at www.ksinsurance.org.

Advice for homeowners

Mike Heiland of Heiland Roofing & Exteriors offers the following tips for dealing with damage to a roof.

▪ Contact a reputable, local roofing contractor to check damage.

▪ Check with the Kansas Attorney General’s Office to see whether the contractor is registered with the state.

▪ Ask for referrals.

▪ If damage is found, call insurance company to make a claim.

▪ Make sure contractor chosen for repair/replacement is licensed in Sedgwick County.

▪ Don’t sign anything you don’t fully understand.

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