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Good News from the Insurance Commissioner

1/30/2018 (Permalink)

Storm Damage Good News from the Insurance Commissioner Santa Barbara remains strong in the face of adversity

When people bought there houses in Montecito, probably one of the furthest things from their minds was needing to buy flood insurance, especially when we were in the middle of a 6-year-old drought and we are located in a semi-arid climate.  Unfortunately, when the Thomas Fire burned to Montecito's back yard, all of the vegetation was stripped from the canyons and the soil was baked to a non-permeable state.  When the rains came, they did not soak into the ground but instead accumulated into a torrent of mud and debris that ended up devastating people's homes.  Normally, you would be out of luck because you did not carry flood insurance.  Well the statement put out by the insurance commissioner yesterday would certainly give reasons for homeowners to remain optimistic.  Here is the statement:

Jones issues formal notice to insurers regarding mudslide coverage for homeowners

News: 2018 Press Release

For Release: January 29, 2018

Email Inquiries: cdipress@insurance.ca.gov

Jones issues formal notice to insurers regarding mudslide coverage for homeowners 

Encourages survivors to file claims for mudslide, landslide, and debris flow based on preliminary indications that fire was efficient proximate cause 

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones today issued a formal notice to all property and casualty insurance companies reminding them of their duty to cover damages from the recent mudslide and debris flows if it is determined that the ravaging of hillsides and vegetation by the Thomas and other fires was the efficient proximate cause of the mudslides. In general homeowners' insurance policies, excludes flood, mudslide, debris flow and other similar events.

However, Jones put insurers on notice that both the Insurance Code and case law have established the legal doctrine of "efficient proximate cause" which means if the facts show the Thomas Fire, a covered peril, was the efficient proximate cause of the subsequent mudflow, mudslides, debris flow, landslide, or other similar event, then damage caused by those events should be covered under the property owner's insurance policy. 

"Californians have suffered greatly with all of the devastating losses from wildfires that struck the state in the last three months of 2017," said Commissioner Jones. "Preliminary indications are that the Thomas Fire burned vegetation which would otherwise have absorbed rainfall and held soils in place, which in turn resulted in the mudflows, mudslides, debris flows or landslides. If the evidence shows the Thomas Fire or another peril covered by a homeowner's insurance policy was the efficient proximate cause of mudflow damage, I expect insurance companies to step up and cover these financial losses."  

Insurance Commissioner Jones is encouraging residents and business owners in Santa Barbara County affected by the mudslides, to file a claim with their insurance company. If consumers have issues navigating the claims process, or they think their claim was wrongfully denied they should contact the Department of Insurance at 800-927-4357 or online at www.insurance.ca.gov for assistance. 

Mud Flows in Montecito

1/24/2018 (Permalink)

Storm Damage Mud Flows in Montecito Mudslides in Montecito

It was weird how everything came together.  The Thomas Fire, which started near Santa Paula, needed to become the largest recorded fire in modern California history in order for it to reach Montecito forty miles away.  The firefighters did an amazing job of battling the blaze as it approached the outskirts of the city and eventually ended up saving hundreds, if not thousands, of houses.  The residents were able to breathe a sigh of relief that the danger had passed and they slowly returned to their homes.

Rain came into the forecast and the emergency personnel began to worry.  The concern was that the recently burned hills were now missing the vegetation that helps to keep everything in place when it rains so mud could cause trouble.  They issued evacuation notices and waited for the rain to come.  The rain started off slowly but when the main part of the storm hit, it began to rain heavy.  Very heavy.  At one point, a half inch of rain fell within a five minute period.  That amount of rain is supposed to happen about once every two hundred years.  

The naked hills were no match for the rain.  The rocks and mud began to flow and picked up everything else that was in their path down the mountain on the way to the sea.  By the time the event was over, Montecito lay in ruins.  Lives were lost and people's fortunes were changed forever.

SERVPRO of Santa Barbara would like to express our sincere condolences for all of the losses that were suffered.  We are proud of the way the community has rallied and we will be working hard to help Montecito rebuild.  The challenges ahead will be difficult but Montecito will rise again!

Cleaning Ash in Santa Barbara

12/13/2017 (Permalink)

Fire Damage Cleaning Ash in Santa Barbara Please don't blow ash like this guy!

Oh boy!  If you live anywhere in Santa Barbara, there is no avoiding the effects of the Thomas Fire.  The fifth largest fire in the history of the state has been sending smoke and ash into Santa Barbara for over a week.  We have been fielding many questions here from our customers about how to clean ash from both the interior and the exterior of their homes.  The first piece of advice that we have been telling everybody is to be patient.  As frustrating as this situation has been, the fire is only 25% contained as of this writing.  If you start cleaning today, we can guarantee you that you will be cleaning many more times than if you were to wait for the fire to be further contained and the smoke to be stopped.

If it is absolutely necessary to clean outside of your home, please do not use a blower to blow the particles into the air!  In all likelihood, most of the ash is composed of natural-occurring materials from the bushes and trees that the fire has burned.  There is always a chance, however, that material from burning houses could be included in your ash so you could have chemicals, asbestos, or other toxic substances mixed in.  When you blow the ash into the air, there is a greater chance of that ash getting into your lungs and you do not want that.  If you must remove ash outside your home, try to lightly wet the ash first so that it will not become airborne prior to removing it. 

As hard as it is, our best advice right now is to be patient.  Eventually the fire will be contained and the soot will stop falling.  When that happens, SERVPRO of Santa Barbara will be there to help you with ash clean-up.  You can reach SERVPRO of Santa Barbara at 805-963-0606.

Does Your Home Smell Like Mold?

11/29/2017 (Permalink)

Mold Remediation Does Your Home Smell Like Mold? When you smell mold, it is wise to try to find out the source

The nights have turned colder, even in Santa Barbara, and people are starting to spend more time inside.  Since it is cold out, you close the windows and turn on your furnace which blows warm air around.  You may start to notice an odor in the air.  Some people describe the smell as musty, others call it earthy.  Typically, the smell comes from mold.

The mold may be obvious as a dark patch on drywall in the bathroom or it may be hidden beneath or behind your kitchen cabinets.  All mold requires water to grow so at some point in the recent past, the mold found some moisture and began to thrive.  As the mold dries out however, some types like to release their spores into the air so that they may find a better home.  The mold may also release microbial volatile organic compounds which produce the aroma you are smelling.

When you turn on your furnace and you start to smell an odor that is like Grandma’s basement, you may want to take a look around to see if there are any obvious signs of mold in your home.  If your search does not turn up any obvious signs, you may want to consult an Environmental Hygienist to do some testing.  If it turns out that you do find you have mold, SERVPRO of Santa Barbara is there to help you make it go away.

Steps to Take for Commercial Fire Damage

11/29/2017 (Permalink)

Commercial Steps to Take for Commercial Fire Damage The faster you can get the fire cleaned up, the faster you can get back in business

Commercial fire damage can leave some or all areas of your property unusable until repair work can be completed. When your workplace has been impacted by a fire, you will want to get repairs started as quickly as possible so that the property can be restored and becomes fully functional.  Finding the fastest and most reliable method of fire damage restoration is crucial. Your business operations downtime must be kept to a minimum.

Determining the Scope of the Work 
When you are dealing with  commercial fire damage, the scope of work that needs to be accomplished starts with a thorough assessment. The destruction generally includes more than just burn damage to the structure, business equipment and documents. In many instances, smoke, as well as water from the firefighters' efforts, will ruin one or more areas of the property. Smoke damage may be present throughout the entire property in some cases. 

Exploring Repair Options 
Many steps may be required to improve the property after you have commercial fire damage. For example, you may need to remove drywall that has been damaged by smoke or water from the fire event. You may also need to have the carpeting, business fixtures, and upholstered surfaces professionally cleaned. Some areas may need to be fully reconstructed, such as those that have been burned by the flames. When you are preparing for fire damage repair services, it is important to consider all aspects of the work that needs to be done before you decide how to proceed. Then call SERVPRO of Santa Barbara. Your time and lost business revenue should be of paramount importance. Business interruption insurance can help you overcome this event.

Getting Timely Results
While you need all of the work completed with professional results, you also need them performed promptly so that operations can resume in full swing as soon as possible. You could attempt to contract with different service providers to repair the various types of damage on the property, but this is often not the most efficient method available. Working with one company like SERVPRO of Santa Barbara that has the skills and experience to handle all aspects of the repair process may be the most effective option available. From the initial inspection to the final walk-thru, your doors will be reopened as soon as possible.

When your commercial building has suffered fire damage, you may grapple with what steps you need to take to get the property repaired and operations back up and running again soon. SERVPRO of Santa Barbara offers professional fire damage repair services for commercial properties, and we are the local company that you trust to respond to requests for emergency service without delay. If you are interested in learning more about what we can do for your property after a fire, look no further than our office. Call us today at (805) 963-0606.

SERVPRO of Santa Barbara is Better Than Bleach

11/29/2017 (Permalink)

Mold Remediation SERVPRO of Santa Barbara is Better Than Bleach If you don't get rid of the roots, the mold can grow back

For better or worse, mold has been around for millions of years.  It is an extremely resilient organism and designed for survival.  Many homeowners believe that if they discover their home has mold, they can just spray it with bleach and be done.  The problem is that if the mold is on a porous material like drywall, the chlorine in the bleach does not penetrate below the surface.  The chlorine remains on the surface of the material while the water component of the bleach does penetrate the surface and actually can end up contributing to the growth of the mold.  Additionally, bleach is toxic to humans as well as mold.  It does not make much sense to add a poison into the atmosphere of your home.

Causes of Mold

Part of what makes mold such a common issue is that there are multiple things that can cause it to grow. Some of the most frequent causes of household mold include:

  • Leaking Pipes
  • Humidity
  • Condensation
  • Poor Ventilation
  • Wet Clothes
  • Leaky Roof
  • Flood Damage

Mold Treatment

When our experienced crew arrives on site, we will set up barriers using 6ml plastic that will prevent the mold from spreading to other areas of your home while we perform a controlled and clean demolition of all the affected materials.  If the affected material is porous, we will remove it so that the roots of the mold never get an opportunity to grow back in your home. All the while we will run HEPA filter air scrubbers to capture any spores that try to escape.

SERVPRO of Santa Barbara knows how stressful a situation like residential mold growth can be and we work efficiently to ensure your mold treatment is hassle-free. Our experienced technicians guide you through every step of the remediation process so you always know what’s going on. Our mold removal products are designed to be environmentally-friendly and deadly to mold but they’re also gentle enough for every member of your family.

Commercial Fires Handled by SERVPRO of Santa Barbara

11/28/2017 (Permalink)

Commercial Commercial Fires Handled by SERVPRO of Santa Barbara When the fire has been put out, SERVPRO of Santa Barbara can help with the cleanup

When your property has been severely compromised by Santa Barbara commercial fire damage, you will need to rely on the expert assistance of a locally owned and operated restoration service. The damage caused by fire doesn't end when the flames are put out. On the contrary, even after the initial fire has been extinguished, a host of other problems may develop. 

How to Properly Control Santa Barbara Commercial Fire Damage 
When it comes to professionally controlling the commercial fire damage in your work place, your best bet is to contact the restoration service that has experience in dealing with such essential matters, SERVPRO of Santa Barbara. While the fire itself may have caused considerable damage to your property, other elements, such as debris, smoke, and mold growth, may also soon threaten to render it uninhabitable and keep your doors closed. When you call SERVPRO, we can immediately begin the cleanup process to get your business back in business.

Fire Damage Restoration Is an All-encompassing Experience 
A professional commercial fire damage restoration company like SERVPRO of Santa Barbara offers an all-encompassing solution. It begins when you inform us about the nature of your problem. We will send a team of friendly and knowledgeable service professionals to begin an immediate inspection of the property. Afterward, we will present you with a comprehensive diagnosis of the problem along with an exact estimate of the cost for our services. You are under absolutely no obligation until you agree to have our team begin restoration work on your property, as noted.

We Offer a Comprehensive Cleanup Regimen 
Once the initial assessment and inspection have been completed, SERVPRO of Santa Barbara will conduct a comprehensive cleanup and restoration program. We will safely discard remaining debris, remediate any mold or other bacterial growth, and clean up any stains and blemishes that the fire may have caused. We will also remove stubborn odors that may still be lingering in the building by utilizing ozone machines and foggers. 

The Nature of Our Service Is Restoration Rather Than Replacement
When it comes to cleaning up the damage left behind by commercial fire damage, the essence of our service is to focus on efforts to restore rather than replace the existing property. Restoration will speed up the process to get your business up and running again. This will minimize the loss of profits that would be increased if you had to wait for a new property to be built. We also focus on restoration of damaged documents, retail stock, and furnishings to expedite your re-opening. "Like it never even happened."

Repairing the Effects of Commercial Fire Damage in Santa Barbara 
When it comes to dealing with the effects of Santa Barbara commercial fire damage, we are your locally owned and operated restoration and cleanup authority. When fire damage threatens your property in Santa Barbara, or nearby areas, such as Lompoc, Summerland, Goleta or Santa Ynez, we will be there to assist you. Call SERVPRO of Santa Barbara at (805) 963-0606.

SERVPRO of Santa Barbara Can Restore Your Fire Damaged Home

11/28/2017 (Permalink)

Fire Damage SERVPRO of Santa Barbara Can Restore Your Fire Damaged Home Once the flames are out, there is still plenty to do after a fire in your home

Once your home is hit by a fire, your top priority is getting your property cleaned and repaired. In many cases, this desire leads people to pursue DIY cleanup projects. If this were your planned methodology, you should reconsider this course of action. If the fire damage is of any consequence, many concerns need to be addressed. Can you do all of this yourself?

1. Water Removal: Standing water left behind after the fire extinguishing efforts of the local fire department have several important ramifications. The resulting water damage can be furniture, electronics, clothing, drywall, ceilings, flooring, and more. Water removal must be done fast. SERVPRO of Santa Barbara utilizes specialized equipment to extract the water and moisture quickly, thereby mitigating the damage. Fire damage unfortunately, has collateral damage.

2. Smoke Damage: The smoke damage that results from a fire can be quite substantive. In fact, the smoke left behind can become embedded in your furniture, flooring, carpets, and walls. If left unaddressed, this smoke damage can remain in your property for years. Soot, another by-product of specific fires, needs special attention for proper clean up to avoid staining of walls and furniture. Effectively removing smoke necessitates the use of professional procedures and products that fire restoration specialists from SERVPRO or Santa Barbara have in their arsenal.

3. Salvageable Goods: In many cases, homeowners who seek to complete the remediation process on their own will throw away items that are salvageable. Don't make this mistake. Instead, allow SERVPRO to assist you with this aspect of the restoration process. We will assess, inspect and issue you a Contents Claim Inventory Service form--CCIS. This inventories affected household items and classifies them into non-salvageable, salvageable or questionable lists. Items can be containerized and cleaned at our facility by our IICRC-trained technicians.

4. Time Efficiency: If you attempt to complete the fire restoration process without professional assistance, the project will take a lot of time and probably lack positive results. However, hiring SERVPRO of Santa Barbara to put your home back in repaired, healthy condition after fire damage enables you to feel confident of the restoration. Consider the effort, equipment, and training involved in successfully restoring your home to its pre-fire condition.

Locally Owned Company with National Resources

We live and work in Santa Barbara too; we might even be neighbors. As a locally owned and operated business, SERVPRO of Santa Barbara is close by and ready to respond to your smoke or fire damage emergency in Buellton, Summerland, Goleta or Santa Ynez. We are proud to be an active member of the Santa Barbara community. Call us to help you. (805) 963-0606

Storms in Santa Barbara?

11/28/2017 (Permalink)

Storm Damage Storms in Santa Barbara? Are you ready for when the rains come?

When we think of floods, we think that those are occurrences that only happen after in places that get lots of rain. But did you know that everyone resides in a flood zone? Even the driest areas can experience what are known as flash floods. Rivers, streams, and lakes are almost always overflowing their banks, given a couple of rainy days. 

With only a few inches of water, you can have many hundreds to thousands of dollars’ worth of  flood damage in your home or commercial building. A flash flood can often bring a wall of water. New construction in your neighborhood can change runoff patterns in the area and can increase our flood risks. Most insurance plans do not include flood damage, and this must be purchased separately. 

Some Other Interesting Facts That Are Flood Damage 

Prevention Tips:
    •    The average cost of flood damage is around $5,000 to $10,000 depending on the type of damage and where the water came from, so any tips that can help prevent this has to be worth the time to try them.
    •    An inspection and flushing your water heater once a year, by a plumber, can contribute to preventing it bursting on you and flooding the area.
    •    Replacing the rubber hoses on all appliances that use water with metal braided ones can help to avoid the failing of the rubber ones as they can get hard and burst. Check all hoses; even the metal braided ones every year. 
    •    Leaks from toilets are often indicated by a little leakage from the base. Ask everyone in the family to stand in the bathroom, after flushing and watching for any tell-tale leaks. 
    •    Do you know where to locate the main water shut-off? If a pipe burst, inside, you need to be able to get it turned off quickly. 
    •    If you have a sump pump, now is a good time to get it checked and think about a backup unit. 
    •    Always be looking for signs of plumbing leaks, such as on ceilings and walls; you are looking for stains and moisture on those walls and floors. 
    •    Leaking or even broken pipes are often gushing water, and it is not noticed because it might be hidden. Check out your water usage when no faucets are turned on; locate the water meter and take a reading, then use no water for an hour or so and read it again. Has it moved? If so, you have a leak someplace, so get a plumber to check it out. 
    •    Always monitor your monthly water bill. If it goes up a lot one billing cycle, you might have the need for a plumber to come in and check all connections. 
    •    Since a lot of water comes from inside your home and can damage many walls, floors, furniture and provide the moisture needed for molds to grow, doing whatever can be done to prevent leaks is a good exercise to undertake. 

When you do experience flood damage in your home, call SERVPRO of Santa Barbara at (805) 963-0606 for the flood restoration that you need, quickly.

SERVPRO of Santa Barbara Can Mitigate Your Water Damage

11/22/2017 (Permalink)

Water Damage SERVPRO of Santa Barbara Can Mitigate Your Water Damage Toilets overflowing is just one of the ways you can get a water damage in your home

Rain and water runoff can cause substantial  water damage to building structures, personal property, home furnishings and family heirlooms. However, it doesn't take flooding for water penetration to ruin personal possessions or cause structural damage. Leaky pipes or roofs, water from water heaters and appliances, and water intrusions caused by fallen branches or clogged gutters can generate tremendous damage and cleanup problems. Putting out a minor or major fire can cause severe water damage as well.

What You Can Do to Prevent Water Damage

You can't guard against every possibility, but you can reduce the risks of water damage by keeping your gutters and downspouts in good repair and trimming bushes and trees around your home. Installing a sump pump helps to keep your basement dry, and you might consider installing sensors to detect water penetration in the vulnerable areas of your home. Inspect your pipes, insulation, roof and HVAC system annually. Ensure that your doors and windows have flashing in good repair with functioning seals.

The Signs of Water Damage

Water damage isn't always immediately noticeable, so inspecting your home regularly is important. Small leaks in out-of-the-way areas can weaken structural integrity, destroy valuable personal items in storage areas and damage hardwood floors and carpets beyond repair. Proactive inspections and attention to trouble spots can prevent water damage or minimize the harm done after water penetration or flooding.

Finding hidden leaks or water damage often takes some detective work. Look for stains on walls, ceilings and floors or buckling walls and floors. Crumbling wood around baseboards, windows and doors are a key sign of water penetration. Another sign of water damage is smell; if a room, attic or basement smells musty, it's likely that water penetration has caused some damage.

Heavy rains can cause flooding and roof damage while weakening key barriers to water penetration throughout your home like doors, windows, outside roofs and interior ceilings. Standpipes can overflow and cause water to penetrate the ceiling even when you can't find damage in other areas. Slow leaks, blocked gutters, malfunctioning appliances, slow soil drainage and burst pipes in hidden areas can result in standing water and cause tremendous water damage.

What You Can Do If You Have Water Penetration

As home restoration specialists, we know that water damage isn't always preventable no matter how vigilant you are. Flash floods, burst pipes, damaged water heaters, broken appliances and even the mistakes of playing children can result in water penetrating your home. No matter what precautions you take, you can still get water damage in dozens of unexpected ways. The experts from SERVPRO of Santa Barbara provide water removal, cleanup services and invaluable advice that can minimize the consequences of water damage.

Emergencies don't happen conveniently, so we offer 24-hour emergency service from our locally owned and managed office. We live and work where you live, but we have the national resources and local staff to restore your property in the Lompoc, Goleta and Santa Barbara areas of California. We have the latest drying and water removal equipment to get your property dry. If you have emergency water intrusion, flooding or water damage from any source, call SERVPRO of Santa Barbara at (805) 963-0606