Updated September 5, 2023 - 3:24 pm
Peter Smith was expecting some serious water damage calls for his restoration services business when Tropical Storm Hilary brought rain to Las Vegas on Aug. 19 and 20.
Not much occurred, though. Instead, that damage came several weeks later, in the form of seasonal monsoon storms on Friday and Saturday. Smith’s COIT Cleaning and Restoration Las Vegas was at capacity a day into the stormy weather.
“I’ve been here since 2005 and I haven’t seen storms like this. I think it was a unique scenario,” Smith said. “Normally as a restoration company, we were prepared for these types of things. But when so many people got hit with this, all we can do is just put our heads down and work as fast as we can and do the best that we can.”
Las Vegas homeowners and restoration services are dealing with the impact of severe storms over Labor Day weekend, where rainfall totals reached nearly four inches in 48 hours in some spots in the valley.
RemediationX, a water damage services company in Las Vegas, said it got an increased call for services fixing roof leaks and water backups. Peter Banyai, vice president of operations, said a normal storm night might garner one or two calls. On Friday night, the company received 12 calls.
One of the worst situations the company is dealing with is in a multimillion-dollar home. Banyai said its main pump failed, causing a backup into the house.
“Imagine it’s a multimillion-dollar property and it has like four inches of water everywhere,” he said.
On the commercial side, flooding at Boulevard Mall in central Las Vegas received attention on social media. A video shared on X, formerly known as Twitter, showed water shooting up through the floors of the mall over the weekend.
There’s a geyser inside of Boulevard Mall. pic.twitter.com/wtOjMbAYOI
— Las Vegas Issues (@VegasIssues) September 2, 2023
Boulevard Mall General Manager Timo Kuusela said water ended up coming through the mall floor because the system undereath the mall that handles water was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of rain and run off the central Vegas area received.
“So much water was coming off of roofs and residential areas surrounding the mall and into the storm system and it was overwhelmed and had nowhere to go but through the floor,” Kuusela said.
He said the flooding at the mall was the most intense on Saturday but that most of the damage in the mall was fixed by Saturday night and only small issues popped up in the following days such as wet carpets and no major insurance claims had to be filed.
Storms caused widespread damage
Restoration and insurance experts say the storms were unusual because they covered such a large area.
State Farm agent Eric James said his centrally located office has already been dealing with several insurance claims from around the valley, mostly related to roof leaks and to vehicle damage from people who “tried to take on flood waters and unfortunately lost.
“This storm was exceptional because it was valleywide,” James said. “Normally you get pockets of storms and damage here, damage there. This one, we were getting calls all over the valley. We know it was a much more harsh storm than normal.”
Smith said calls are slowing down, but the company may field more as people return home from vacation during the long weekend. He expects ongoing calls about mildew and mold issues that could be caused by standing water.
Josh Holt, a general manager for SERVPRO, also expects calls to continue to roll in this week.
“Las Vegas is very known to have vacation homes,” he said. “So whether they’re coming back to their vacation home, or just coming back from vacations, we expect calls but after a period of maybe three or four days calls will start to taper down.”
For homeowners who are still awaiting water damage services, Banyai recommends immediately calling their homeowners insurance to make sure their claim is addressed as quickly as possible.
“They need to help right away because otherwise they’ll put you at the bottom of the pile,” he said.
James said drivers who took their cars through flooding may want to take their vehicle to get serviced. He saw a driver near his house get stuck in flood waters over a construction site, where concrete and other dirt could severely damage a car’s engine if it gets in.
“You could drive through the water and think nothing of it,” James said. “But then you start your car and dirt, grime or rocks get into the engine and make a $1,000 claim into a $10,000 claim.”
Holt said one big challenge in helping people is that many call for water restoration without realizing they don’t have damage from floods in their insurance policy. For those with flood insurance, restoration services are normally 100 percent covered minus the deductible.
“The only challenges that we are seeing is a lot of policy owners here in Nevada don’t actually have flood insurance,” Holt said. “Whether their insurance is going to be covering this or not is basically dictated off the policy that they have.”
McKenna Ross is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @mckenna_ross_ on X. Contact Sean Hemmersmeier at email@example.com. Follow @seanhemmers34 on X.