“Cleanup on Aisle One… and Aisle Two… and Aisle Three!”


A tiny grocery market had claimed widespread water damage in the wake of Hurricane Dorian. This powerful event that besieged Southeast Florida in the first week of September, 2019, contained large outer rain bands and produced wind gusts of tropical storm force. According to an industry storm events database, a peak storm surge of 1-2 feet occurred along portions of the Atlantic coast during high tide. The insured reported that this high-velocity wind-driven event had damaged the roof which, in turn, resulted in water damage to the interior. The list of claimed damage included goods for sale, display equipment, ceiling, walls, and floor areas, the latter which were a combination of linoleum tile and exposed concrete.


Capturing site-specific weather data and immediately deploying to the property, Guardian’s forensic construction and engineering expert inspected the interior and its finishes, the crawlspace, and the complete exterior, including the roofing. The store manager had reported rodent infestation, which included destruction of for-sale goods, and this, too, became part of the investigation. In total, 44 photographs were taken on the scene in order to record the evidence and support the scientific findings. As always, Guardian’s construction and engineering experts find and visually document not only those areas that evidence damage, but, critically, those areas that reveal no damage which can readily prove or disprove a causation theory. That’s the benefit of decades of experience and specialized expertise.


A storm of great intensity, Dorian’s high winds may have reasonably stood as the most likely culprit for the store’s damage and poor condition. Conversely, as the report of forensic findings neatly spelled out, much of the exterior damage one would expect to find was absent. For example, there were no broken windows, missing or displaced building materials, damaged vegetation or impact marks consistent with wind-borne debris. Additionally, there was extreme wear and tear at the interior, consistent with the property’s 97 years, as well as signs of deterioration, partial repair, and poor repair throughout.

The report did note, however, that completely distinct from any roof-based water intrusion (there was no shingle creasing and no loose or missing materials, and no corresponding damage to the ceiling and other interior finishes), water did, in fact, intrude upon the store. The surrounding hardscape was found to be located at a higher elevation than the crawlspace floor, thus enabling water to pond, be directed into the crawlspace, stagnate and damage the wood support structure. Additionally, the exterior cladding of the store bore numerous cracks and through-wall penetrations. Additionally in regard to the severe rodent infestation, Guardian’s expert noted that the perimeter of the beach-proximal crawlspace was not sealed. Additionally, numerous through-wall and through-floor breaches were noted. The degraded stucco system was but one of many instances that demonstrated an overall poor condition, advanced building age, and lack of periodic maintenance or proper repair.


 From the smallest of residential and commercial claims to the largest and most complex insurance matters, count on Guardian Group, Inc. when your property claims require immediate expertise and definitive reporting. Insurance carriers, TPAs and adjusters have all come to rely upon the company’s unique combination of expedience and experience. You can, too. Kindly call on Guardian Group’s Property & Casualty Group today.


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