Why your renovation project may be taking a back seat to hurricane repairs

P.E.I. restoration and construction companies say customers will have to be patient as they try to deal with the onslaught of calls from property owners in need of repairs following this weekend's storm. 

Josh Farquharson, the general manager of ServiceMaster Restore P.E.I., says his company has received hundreds of calls since post-tropical storm Dorian hit the Island Saturday night. 

"We are running a list, and dealing with different categories of severities," said Farquharson. "So people with open roofs and water in their basement are getting served quicker than someone who just has a fence down.... We're dealing with the emergency side here right now — extracting water, tarping roofs for any residual damage."

Farquharson says crews have been working "into the evenings" to get all those emergency jobs done quickly. He expects ServiceMaster will need to call on some of its workers in New Brunswick to help out with restoration work over the next few weeks. 

"In my 12 years here, this is probably just the second time we've called in help," said Farquharson. 

Steve Bruce/CBC

'Won't be able to service everyone'

Darin MacBeth, the co-owner of MacBeth Bros. Roofing, says his company was already in need of more workers and forced to turn business away before Dorian struck. 

Now, he said they're putting some pre-booked jobs on hold, and trying to respond to the "hundreds" of calls that have come in for emergency roof repair jobs, after shingles blew off homes, and trees landed on roofs. 

Steve Bruce/CBC

Even still, MacBeth said he's had to say no to more than half of the callers. 

"We obviously won't be able to service everyone. But we're doing what we can," said MacBeth. "We expect from our customers that they will be somewhat understanding for what we have to do to service people in great need."

More pressure on strained industry

According to the Construction Association of P.E.I., companies across the Island are facing the same challenge right now. 

The industry's long been facing a labour shortage, and struggling to keep up with the growing demand for skilled trade workers. 

Sam Sanderson, the association's general manager, said while that demand has increased since the weekend, companies are responding as best they can. 

"Contractors are pulling people from job sites, and making sure they're getting out there to help the people in need in getting things patched up and cleaned up as fast as they can," said Sanderson.

Steve Bruce/CBC

"It's just taking a few skilled people from a job site that may have many on it. Progress may slow down a little bit. But it will probably only be for a few days. So it shouldn't be anything substantial."

Island insurance company P.E.I. Mutual said this week it could be a year before all the damage from the storm is repaired. 

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