SOURCE: ServiceMaster Global Holdings, Inc.

ServiceMaster Global Holdings, Inc.

August 13, 2015 16:15 ET

Hurricane Preparedness - Are You Ready?

Disaster Experts Share Tips to Protect Homes and Businesses in Wake of Hurricane Katrina Anniversary

MEMPHIS, TN--(Marketwired - August 13, 2015) - As the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaches, the nation is once again reminded of the costly destruction hurricanes have caused to home and business owners across the country. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the United States has sustained $327 billion in hurricane damages over the past decade -- and experts agree there are many precautions property owners can take to help limit damage during severe weather.

ServiceMaster Restore, one of the largest disaster restoration companies in the United States and business unit of ServiceMaster Global Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: SERV), recently surveyed its franchise owners who offer hurricane restoration services, and the results reveal important insights on how home and business owners can prepare for major storms.

According to the 2015 ServiceMaster Restore Franchise Hurricane Preparedness Survey, the majority of franchisees who responded (90 percent) agree that preparing for a storm is often overlooked by home and business owners, an alarming statistic since nearly three-quarters (73 percent) agreed that most damage can be prevented if the right measures are taken. Nearly all (90 percent) agreed that property owners can spend up to twice as much on repairs if they do not take simple steps in advance, such as unplugging electronics, elevating furniture, safely storing valuables, documenting important items and having a post-hurricane cleanup plan.

"Ten years later, we still come across severe mold damage in homes that weren't properly restored after Katrina," said franchise owner Kim Brooks, president and CEO of ServiceMaster DSI, whose team was one of many from ServiceMaster Restore that provided extensive restoration support to commercial businesses, hospitals and homes in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

An overwhelming majority of respondents (95 percent) also say that when it comes to dealing with hurricane-related damages, most property owners don't have the tools and/or expertise needed to effectively deal with the problems at hand.

"We can't stress enough the importance of having a plan," said Brooks. "Unfortunately, people often don't take weather warnings seriously, and once they do, panic sets in and they run out of time to take care of simple precautions to secure their property. Knowing what to do before and after a major storm, and knowing when to call in the professionals for assistance, including who to call, can help home and business owners avoid costly damage to their properties in the long run."

Ahead of a major hurricane or storm, Brooks and the team of experts at ServiceMaster Restore suggest a three-part strategy to help reduce potential damage, expense and inconvenience.

  • Prepare in Advance -- Don't wait for weather warnings to create an action plan. For instance, take steps now to fasten the roof to the frame of the home or building. Once severe weather is predicted, begin boarding up windows and ensuring rain gutters are clear. Secure loose outdoor items, have a fresh supply of batteries on hand, as well as emergency supplies such as water, medication and non-perishable food. Take photos and make lists to document essential possessions. Most importantly, have a plan for post-hurricane repairs and information on hand for professional restoration companies to help mitigate damages in a timely manner.
  • Assess Hurricane Aftermath -- Safety after a hurricane or heavy storm is critical. Debris, live power lines and electrically charged water are just a few of the safety risks to keep in mind. Evaluate the situation and structural damage before entering the home or attempting "D-I-Y" cleanup, which can cause more damage and lead to additional expenses. When possible, water cleanup should begin right away (within 24-48 hours) to avoid mold, rust and further damage. For instance, remove wet area rugs to prevent seepage of water up drywalls and discard damp, non-valuable items to help avoid potential mold contamination. To mitigate loss, contact a professional restoration company immediately.
  • Recognize Lingering Problems -- Be on the look-out for mold following excessive water or flooding. Mold needs wet conditions to grow and is most often detected by sight or smell. If you notice mold spores or a musty smell in a room or area, remove any lingering wet items. Don't rely on products that promise to kill mold, including bleach, as it only causes mold to go dormant. The only way to truly get rid of mold is to cut it out of an area - an undertaking best left to professionals to avoid further costly damage and inadequate cleaning.

ServiceMaster Restore is trained, equipped and ready to repair and clean homes and businesses before, during and after a hurricane. With a number of regionally based large-loss command and control centers, a disaster operations center to track storms and 1,800 franchises nationwide, ServiceMaster Restore can mobilize resources to handle any size job.

For more expert tips and information about hurricane preparedness, visit ServiceMasterRestore.com. For immediate emergency hurricane preparedness assistance and water damage clean up, call a live ServiceMaster Restore operator 24/7/365 at 1-800-RESPOND.

About ServiceMaster Restore
With approximately 1,800 franchised and licensed locations around the world, ServiceMaster Restore and ServiceMaster Recovery Management (SRM) serve customers through a global network of franchises available 24/7/365 to provide residential and commercial restoration services resulting from damage caused by water, fire or smoke. SRM is the large scale commercial catastrophic disaster restoration unit of ServiceMaster Restore. ServiceMaster Restore and SRM have operations and consulting experience on countless disasters, including clean-up after Hurricane Katrina and the Pentagon after September 11, 2001. ServiceMaster Restore is a business unit of the Memphis-based ServiceMaster Global Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: SERV), a leading provider of essential residential and commercial services. More information can be found at www.servicemasterrestore.com and www.servicemasterrecoverymanagement.com.

About ServiceMaster
ServiceMaster Global Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: SERV) is a leading provider of essential residential and commercial services, operating through an extensive service network of more than 8,000 company-owned, franchised and licensed locations. The company's portfolio of well-recognized brands includes American Home Shield (home warranties), AmeriSpec (home inspections), Furniture Medic (furniture repair), Merry Maids (residential cleaning), ServiceMaster Clean (janitorial), ServiceMaster Restore (disaster restoration) and Terminix (termite and pest control). We serve residential and commercial customers through an employee base of approximately 13,000 company associates and a franchise network that independently employs an estimated 33,000 additional people. The company is headquartered in Memphis, Tenn. Go to www.servicemaster.com for more information about ServiceMaster or follow the company at twitter.com/ServiceMaster or facebook.com/ServiceMaster.

About the Survey
The 2015 ServiceMaster Franchisee Hurricane Preparedness Survey presents the findings of an online survey conducted by ServiceMaster from May 13-27, 2015 among a sample of 38 ServiceMaster franchise owners across the country offering hurricane preparedness and restoration services for homes or businesses.

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