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Inundated roofers hurrying to finish derecho repairs before winter sets in

Published: Oct. 19, 2020 at 10:31 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - The Halloween decorations outside Chris Stumpff’s home in southwest Cedar Rapids — two skeletons sitting on lawn chairs, holding Busch Light cans, and taking in the sights and sounds of the neighborhood — have a special significance this year.

“It feels like we’re waiting until the end of 2020. That’s what your look is, so just waiting for this year to be over,” Stumpff said.

Now he’s waiting for one more inconvenience of 2020 — fixing his derecho-damaged roof. Stumpff said a tree knocked off a corner of the roof during the August 10 storm. On Monday, snow blanketed the tarp he had set on top of it until a roofer can make repairs.

“We’ve had a lot of rainstorms, so we haven’t had any leaks inside the bedroom yet from the ceiling, so we haven’t noticed anything, but I don’t know if the insulation’s gotten wet,” Stumpff said.

A crew is scheduled to fix Stumpff’s roof in early November, around the same time his neighbor, Caleb Althoff, is scheduled to have someone come out just to give him an estimate for repairs. Althoff said that appointment came after trying to get in contact with roofers for about a month to repair four holes in his roof, including one that broke all the way through to his ceiling.

“Water could slip through the cracks, get down in my hole, and could cause more damage than just — instead of that little patch, it could go right through my whole house,” Althoff said.

But, Althoff doesn’t know when the actual work could be done.

“I’m hoping before another snowfall will happen,” Althoff said, with a laugh.

David Erickson, of PPC Roofing in Cedar Rapids, said it’s impossible for every damaged roof in the city to be fixed in the next few months.

“There’s going to be a lot of people that are going to go through the winter like that,” Erickson said. “If they’re tarped properly, they can make it through.”

Meanwhile, Erickson said work might take a little longer. Some materials have been in short stock for months because of pandemic-related supply-chain disruptions, and Erickson said out-of-state repairs crews have probably left town for good.

“They’ve gone down to Louisiana for the hurricanes. They probably won’t be back,” Erickson said.

PPC Roofing has been inundated with calls and jobs over the last two months, according to Erickson, who expected that abundance of work to continue well past next spring.

With limited opportunity to work in the winter because of the weather — Erickson said some shingles, for example, won’t properly seal in temperatures colder than 40 degrees — PPC is giving priority to homes with emergency needs.

“There was hail damage from the earlier storms. They can wait longer if they’re willing to, and most of them are because they’re not going to leak," Erickson said. "It’s the ones that have the shingles gone, missing, the decking exposed — just the tragedies. Those are the ones we’re trying to take care of first.”

Noting that “weather dictates everything at this point,” Erickson said they don’t know how many repairs they’ll be able to complete by the time the snow sets in.

“That, then, will pretty much end the season,” Erickson said.

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