On Friday, April 13, 2018, a severe storm blew through Arkansas, producing multiple tornadoes and dangerous straight-line winds and causing storm damage across the state. In Conway, the University of Central Arkansas was hit particularly hard by these strong gusts. Thankfully, no students or faculty were injured, but straight-line winds ripped approximately 8,000 square feet of TPO membrane roofing (and all associated rigid insulation underneath) off of UCA’s Carmichael Hall, which houses some 200 students.
With students displaced and the potential for even more storm damage, the university needed to act fast. The storm ripped the roof off at 10:37 p.m. that night, causing secondary damage to multiple cars and spreading debris all over the surrounding area. By 11:02 p.m., Nabholz was on site. Approximately 20 people showed up that night to clean-up the refuse.
By midnight, only an hour after the storm, the parking lot for the dormitory and the adjacent street were free of debris and re-opened to the public. In that same time, Nabholz crews also temporarily sealed all the penetrations in the roof, saving the building interior from future water and storm damage from the ongoing rain. At this point crews could get some sleep, knowing the real work would start bright and early the next day.
Nabholz was back on campus by 7:00 a.m. the next morning. The first step was to finish cleaning debris from the site and to start preparations to install the new roof. In conjunction with the clean-up, Nabholz also had crews helping the Owner’s water abatement contractor start the arduous task of drying out all finishes, furniture, and students’ belongings that had been soaked the night before.
At a meeting that day with campus officials, UCA gave Nabholz a short deadline—the displaced students needed to be back in the damaged dorm by the following Saturday. We had one week. It’s important to note the normal timeline a job of this size and type: it would typically take four weeks just to get the materials on site. Then it would take two weeks to install the new roof under perfect conditions. In short, this would be no easy task.
When our clients ask, though, we deliver. With the help of Mid-Ark Roofing, a subcontractor located in Little Rock, roofers were on site by 10:00 a.m. the following morning assessing the extent of the damage to the existing membrane roof system and preparing the existing roof deck to receive new membrane roofing. Working closely with UCA and their insurance provider, we were able to provide immediate repair estimates for approval by the insurance company, allowing us to continue repairs immediately.
Using our relationship with the roofing manufacturer, we were able to procure the key roof system materials (the insulation board and TPO Membrane) by the end of day Sunday. This involved calling people at home on Sunday—and people responding. Leveraging our relationships in the industry allowed us to turn a 6-8 week lead time into a 3-day lead time, with all materials being delivered to the site by Tuesday. In the same time frame (Sunday-Tuesday), Mid-Ark had 10 to 12 men on site removing the remainder of damaged roofing and preparing the existing roof deck to receive the new roof. Nabholz also had three to four craftsmen re-installing all the necessary roof blocking required for the new roof system.
Material arrived on Tuesday and crews worked 14-hour days on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday to get the building back in the dry. Nabholz and Mid-Ark installed all metal coping, gutters, and downspouts Thursday and Friday so students could start moving back in.
While all the roof work was going on, Nabholz had another crew of four inside re-installing damaged ceiling grid and tile throughout the corridors. The water-damaged rubber base in the dorm rooms was also replaced.
By Thursday, less than a week later, the roof was installed, all interior water damage was remediated, new interior finishes were in place, and students were moving back into their rooms.
Casey Sowell, a 19-year Nabholz veteran and project manager for this work, had this to say about the night the storm hit. “I wasn’t the first to arrive. Actually, Nabholz was in full swing by the time I got there. [Chief Operating Officer] Brad Hegeman, Tracy Chambers, and Jeremy [Nabholz] were already assessing the extent of the storm damage, ensuring a safe work environment, and formulating a plan of work. What I witnessed in the first 15 minutes was nothing short of impressive. Nabholz team members started pouring in—construction team members, service team members, concrete tradesmen, office workers, even a millwork worker showed up to help clean up debris. Even Brad was working with a squeegee. The UCA Physical Plant staff was right there, working hand in hand with us.”