Last week, I left the Property Claim Services® (PCS®) Catastrophe Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and went down to Bessemer, Alabama, and Pensacola, Florida, to assess the damage that occurred as result of PCS CAT #40. The damage in Bessemer resulted from an EF-2 tornado, part of a wave of thunderstorms last week that affected 16 states, including Alabama and Florida. The tornadoes caused deaths in multiple states, ripped roofs off houses, and uprooted large trees, many of which landed on vehicles, homes, and businesses. Many cities across several states also experienced significant hail damage and strong winds.
I spent Thursday in Bessemer, where teams of local volunteers have come to the aid of residents, helping with temporary repairs and tree removal. Some roads are unusable as a result of downed trees, and power remains out for many residents, with no information as to when they will have it restored. In fact, as of Friday, some of the power lines on the ground were still arcing, presenting a dangerous situation. In addition to the residential effect, I saw considerable damage to commercial structures. Falling trees caused damage to masonry, and the extended power outages are causing income loss.
On Friday, I met with the owner of a local cross-fit business in Pensacola. Approximately nine inches of water accumulated in the building where his company operates, and floating debris outside the gym crashed into the plate glass window, causing gym contents to float into the street. Some of the debris, I’m told, came from as far as half a mile away.
And that’s only one of the many situations I encountered on the ground in Pensacola. Rain penetrated the roofs of some local businesses, leading to severe wind-driven rain damage to interiors. Widespread residential flooding occurred across the city. While most of the water has receded, both residents and business owners are cleaning and repairing their homes and workplaces. Sandbags do still line some storefronts.
Fortunately, in Bessemer, Pensacola, and the many other communities affected by PCS CAT #40, local emergency management services and catastrophe adjusters are on-site to help families and businesses begin the process of returning to normal. We will continue to monitor the effects of this event through the catastrophe resurvey process.