Contractors race to replace area roofs damaged by August hail storm before winter strikes

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Oct. 23—Clint Anderson and his wife, Dawn, were watching television on Aug. 11 when noise erupted outside their home located on a ridge between Newman and Hauser lakes.

"My wife said, 'Something is going on,' " Clint Anderson said. "I look out and see 2- to 3-inch hail balls bouncing 4 feet off the ground. I've never seen anything like it."

At the same time, miles away in a quaint neighborhood tucked above Starr Road in Newman Lake, the same shock came to the home of 78-year-old Leroy Randall.

"It was terrible," Randall said. "It sounded like someone was on the roof beating it with a sledgehammer.

"If you were out it in it and it hit you, it would have knocked you cold."

The band of hail created a swath of destruction, damaging roofs, wheat fields, cars, home siding and RVs from Liberty Lake to Newman Lake and areas south of Spokane Valley.

In some locations, the damage resembled the path of a tornado where hail stripped pine trees clean of their needles. Yet the damage also seemed to concentrate on certain homes while leaving others nearby without serious property damage.

"I've owned my company for 20 years," said Jeff Stitton, owner of Spokane Roofing. "This is the first hailstorm that we ever have encountered that ... damaged roofs."

The storm has prompted thousands of home owners to contact insurance companies for full replacements. Sitton said he expects his crews will have replaced 200 to 300 of them before it's over.

"It's a massive demolition job to strip a roof off and not hurt the siding," he said. "Everybody wants to jump right now before winter. We feel it's OK to wait until spring, as long as we have inspected the roof to make sure you are not going to have any leaks."

An extended run of warm weather has allowed roofing companies to continue at a frenetic pace, but they say they simply cannot get all the work done before the weather system this weekend starts to complicate matters, said Tom McGuckin, owner of Liberty Roofers of Coeur d'Alene.

"It's chaos," McGuckin said. "The suppliers are just completely smashed. And, it's getting pesky out there without all the storm chasers taking a lot of local work away."

Storm contractors

The scale of the demand attracted outside companies from Colorado, Utah and Texas that moved in to take a share of the business from homeowners anxious to secure their homes before winter.

Temporary signs announcing companies that do roof repair are scattered along Starr Road among dozens of campaign signs.

McGuckin said he's concerned outside companies won't honor warranties.

"I understand business," McGuckin said. "But I'm a little concerned for the local home owners."

Sitton said he also shared the same concerns about the outside contractors.

"From our standpoint, from someone who has been here in the community, servicing, doing repairs and taking care of ice dams in the winter, it's a little discouraging watching your friends and neighbors hiring a company out of Colorado," he said. "God willing, they don't have any problems.

"If they do, who is going to be there to take care of them?"

While the pounding hail caused pock marks in the asphalt shingles, the roofs may be able to handle one more winter of weather, he said.

"We are encouraging folks to sign a contract with us for next spring," Sitton said. "We'll get to it when we can. But, if you have a leak, we will repair it no charge if you have a contract with us."

The extra time will allow local suppliers to catch up and provide more time for specific colors to be restocked, Sitton said.

The supply problems are more severe for homes with vinyl siding, which was popular about 15 years ago but is now harder to find, McGuckin said.

One east-west street in Liberty Lake had homes that got pummeled, he said.

"Every house on the south-facing wall got obliterated," McGuckin said. "It looked like Machine Gun Kelly came through with an M240 Bravo (machine gun). It was wild to see. That's where the supply issues will get crazy."

Most home builders long ago switched to using fiber cement siding.

To match the old siding, "home owners will have to get vinyl. But, local suppliers don't have that much in stock," he said. "If it's a weird color, it could be up to six months" to get it.

McGuckin, 32, also said insurance agents generally have been easy to work with.

"I gotta give insurance companies some credit," he said. "They have been good about paying out and working with contractors."

He explained that materials and labor costs have ballooned over the past two years.

In some cases, insurance claims would come in for $10,000 only to have contractors say the work would cost between $15,000 to $17,000.

"They are working with homeowners to get them a little extra money," he said. "It works better when I can call the insurance company and work with them directly."

A pounding

Anderson, 63, said he's seen as much as 8 feet of snow at his place. He thinks his roof that needs replacing is about 22 years old.

While the home's three-tab, asphalt shingles took a pounding, the old cedar-shake shingles on a guest cabin weathered the storm just fine, he said. Anderson's metal roof on his shop also escaped major damage.

But on the home, the hail hit so hard that it smashed his metal roof vents flat.

"The insurance agent came by three days ago. It's going to be a full replacement," Anderson said of his home. "The agent said my roof was one of the worst he's seen."

Anderson already has been in touch with contractors and the work will start "as soon as they cut me a check," he said. "I said I wanted somebody local."

Homeowner Tom Hoon, 86, was one of the lucky Newman Lake residents. He's already had his roof replaced.

"It sounded like somebody was throwing rocks at the roof," Hoon said of the Aug. 11 storm.

"Most of them were about the size of walnuts. We had a few, but not a whole lot, but a few as big as tennis balls. I think those are the ones that did most of the damage to the roof."

For Randall, who lives near Hoon above Starr Road, the roof was only part of the damage.

The hail also destroyed the casings around several vinyl windows and punched holes in the bottom of a slider door. It also destroyed his rain gutters that had protective covers designed to prevent pine needles from clogging them.

As an added gut punch, the hailstorm destroyed a roof that got a full replacement in 2015 after the massive wind storm sent a tree crashing into it.

"I've lived around Spokane almost all my life," said Randall, who worked 37 years for Kaiser Aluminum. "I've seen hailstorms, but not bigger than a golf ball and just smaller than a tennis ball."