Property Damage & Disaster Restoration Blog: Long Island & New York City

Videogame Technology Helps With Disaster Planning

Posted on Mon, Feb 23, 2009 @ 01:03 PM

Videogame Technology Helps With Disaster Planning
By Kristen Philipkoski 12 hours ago

Muttshack's David Friedman used Depiction to create this map, which he then used to coordinate animal rescue efforts during hurricane Gustav.

Thanks to disaster-simulation software inspired by videogames, David Friedman has a new family member: Jordan, a yellow Labrador retriever puppy. The software helped emergency workers in Louisiana rescue Jordan -- and 15,000 other stranded pets -- during Hurricane Gustav.

"Going by boat across a flooded field and parking lot, I saw this little yellow thing in a tree floating in the river," Friedman said, a disaster-response coordinator with animal-rescue organization Muttshack. "It was this little yellow puppy."

Volunteers like Friedman patched together an escape route for the animals using a disaster-preparedness simulator called Depiction. Friedman combined his amateur radio skills with simulations he had already created of the Baton Rouge area to map open roads, even without an internet connection. Volunteers picked up animals at 19 locations and coordinated 133 tractor trailers.

It's just one example of how disaster-modeling software can help responders create rescue plans in real time. During Katrina, some emergency workers used Google Earth Pro to map evacuation routes. Others have used MapPoint and XMap in crises.

But according to emergency workers, Depiction is the cheapest ($90, compared to $1,000 and up for other systems) and easiest to customize with local logistical information. The software can integrate aerial images from Google Earth or other sources, spreadsheet data, infrastructure maps and river-depth charts.

Depiction can be used to plan for disasters ahead of time, but it's also useful for collecting and organizing data during a crisis. Citizens can e-mail reports from the field, and emergency workers can feed other data directly into the software to find alternative routes when downed power lines, flood waters or landslides block roads.

"Because it has all these layers of data, with one program I can see all of my resources at once," said Friedman, a longtime emergency volunteer.

It's no coincidence that the software's birds-eye view sounds like something straight out of a computer-strategy game. Depiction founder Mike Geersten hails from Microsoft's games unit, where he was a product planner for Flight Simulator and later train sims.

When government agencies started asking to use Microsoft's simulation platform to depict real-life situations, Geersten saw a business opportunity. But getting the business plan approved within Microsoft was a bureaucratic challenge, so he set out on his own in 2005. He raised $1.5 million in angel funding and has gathered a staff of 14.

Geersten has seen his platform technology used in a variety of ways, and has heard suggestions for more. Depiction has helped Red Cross volunteers evacuate victims and get supplies and rescue teams to rural areas. It has tracked flooding along the Snohomish River. A potential investor imagined it could simulate salmon runs in the San Francisco Bay Area, which are at their lowest level in decades. In the video below, Depiction is used to predict the effect of rising sea levels on Manhattan.

Mike Dinn, a real estate consultant in Cincinnati, Ohio, believes Depiction will help mitigate the real estate crisis. By plugging in census, employment and other data, he's using Depiction to help banks decide what to do about newly acquired large properties. The software helps him guide developers trying to choose the best building locations.

"Depiction plus my background allows my clients for the first time to see like radar what these market positions are," Dinn said.

Foreclosure House Repairs: Get a 203(k) Loan

Posted on Fri, Feb 13, 2009 @ 04:05 PM

Foreclosures in Nassau County, Suffolk County and the NY Metro area continue to increase due to the struggling economy. As a result, some homes become neglected over time and develop situations that subsquently require a restoration company to perform repair work. Initiating necessary foreclosure repairs for a property can be accomplished by a potential homeowner applying for a mortgage related to the 203(k) Program.

203(k) Mortgage
The Federal Housing Administration (FHA), which is part of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), administers various single family mortgage insurance programs like a 203(k) mortgage. These programs operate through FHA-approved lending institutions which submit applications to have the property appraised and have the buyer's credit approved. These lenders fund the mortgage loans which the Department insures. HUD does not make direct loans to help people buy homes.
One Mortgage Loan
When a homebuyer wants to purchase a house in need of repair or modernization, the homebuyer usually has to obtain financing first to purchase the dwelling; additional financing to do the rehabilitation construction; and a permanent mortgage when the work is completed to pay off the interim loans with a permanent mortgage. Often the interim financing (the acquisition and construction loans) involves relatively high interest rates and short amortization periods.

The Section 203(k) program was designed to address this situation. The borrower can get just one mortgage loan, at a long-term fixed (or adjustable) rate, to finance both the acquisition and the rehabilitation of the property. To provide funds for the rehabilitation, the mortgage amount is based on the projected value of the property with the work completed, taking into account the cost of the work. To minimize the risk to the mortgage lender, the mortgage loan (the maximum allowable amount) is eligible for endorsement by HUD as soon as the mortgage proceeds are disbursed and a rehabilitation escrow account is established. At this point the lender has a fully-insured mortgage loan.

Advanced Restoration Corporation is a full service property damage restoration company that has the abiltiy to execute all necessary repairs to a property that qualifies for a 203(k) loan. For more information on FHA 203(k) loans and how Advanced Restoration can partner with you, please contact Gary Matzelle at (800) 693-6263.


Advanced Restoration Corporation is a family-owned and operated full-service property damage restoration company with a combined 75 years experience in dealing with Fire Damage Restoration, Water Damage Restoration, Flood & Storm Damage, Mold Remediation, Smoke Damage Restoration and Reconstruction. We service Long Island (Nassau County, NY; Suffolk County, NY) and the New York Metro area.

When disasters strike, Advanced Restoration is ready to respond 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You are guaranteed to speak with one of our knowledgeable, caring team members, day or night. Our immediate response to a claim/property loss helps minimize the damages to the structure, contents, and ease the sometime catastrophic effect that a disaster may have on an owner or occupants.

Our company is dedicated to serving our clients with courteous and prompt service. We take the utmost pride in the craftsmanship of our work. As certified specialists in water mitigation and fire/smoke restoration, we have the knowledge, expertise and experience to deal with all types of property damage. Our professional staff is also trained in all aspects of mold remediation and damage appraisals.

Tags: disaster, foreclosure, 203(k) loan, remodeling, property damage, advanced restoration, advanced restoration corporation, emergency service, homeowner tips, restoration company, home repair

Fire/Burn Hazard Recall Alert

Posted on Tue, Feb 10, 2009 @ 04:13 PM

FIRE HAZARD/BURN HAZARD RECALL ALERT

Have You Recently Purchased a Halogen Lamp at Staples?

Source: USPC

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
Office of Information and Public Affairs
Washington, DC 20207

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE February 10, 2009 Release #09-124
Firm's Recall Hotline: (866) 949-8567CPSC Recall Hotline: (800) 638-2772CPSC Media Contact: (301) 504-7908

Catalina Lighting Recalls Halogen Clamp Lamps Due to Fire and Burn Hazard; Sold Exclusively At Staples Stores

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with the firm named below, today announced a voluntary recall of the following consumer product. Consumers should stop using recalled products immediately unless otherwise instructed.

Name of Product: Halogen Clamp Lamps

Units: About 2,000

Manufacturer: Catalina Lighting Inc., of Miami, Fla.

Hazard: The UV glass lens on the lamp can crack, exposing the halogen bulb, posing a fire and burn hazard.

Incidents/Injuries: Catalina Lighting has received 65 reports of broken lenses. No injuries have been reported.

Description: The halogen clamp lamps, also known as architect’s lamp, have 150 watt halogen bulb, an articulating arm, and a clamp desk lamp that adjusts up, down and swivels. Only lamps with model number 13456-US and lot numbers C06081581V185, C06081582V185 and C06081584V185 are included in the recall.

Sold at: Staples retail stores nationwide from July 2008 through October 2008 for about $50. Manufactured in: China

Remedy: Consumer should immediately stop using the recalled lamp and contact Catalina Lighting to receive a free replacement lens.

Consumer Contact: For additional information, contact Catalina Lighting toll-free at (866) 949-8567 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday or visit the firm’s Web site at www.catalinalighting.com


Advanced Restoration Corporation is a family-owned and operated full-service property damage restoration company with a combined 75 years experience in dealing with Fire Damage Restoration, Water Damage Restoration, Flood & Storm Damage, Mold Remediation, Smoke Damage Restoration and Reconstruction. We service Long Island (Nassau County, NY; Suffolk County, NY) and the New York Metro area.

When disasters strike, Advanced Restoration is ready to respond 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You are guaranteed to speak with one of our knowledgeable, caring team members, day or night. Our immediate response to a claim/property loss helps minimize the damages to the structure, contents, and ease the sometime catastrophic effect that a disaster may have on an owner or occupants.

Our company is dedicated to serving our clients with courteous and prompt service. We take the utmost pride in the craftsmanship of our work. As certified specialists in water mitigation and fire/smoke restoration, we have the knowledge, expertise and experience to deal with all types of property damage. Our professional staff is also trained in all aspects of mold remediation and damage appraisals.

If you have questions related to fire and smoke damage restoration, please call us at (800)693-6263.

Tags: property damage, fire restoration, water damage, burn hazard, fire recall, advanced restoration, restoration company, disrepair, fire protection, cpsc recall, smoke restoration

Fire Hazard: Oil-Fired Furnace Recall Alert

Posted on Mon, Feb 02, 2009 @ 03:12 PM



The Consumer Product Safety Commission recently published Release #09-104, which focuses on a recall related to oil-fired furnaces that may result in a fire hazard.

Source: CPSC

NEWS from CPSC
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
Office of Information and Public Affairs
Washington, DC 20207
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE January 22, 2009 Release #09-104
Firm's Recall Hotline: (800) 577-3960CPSC Recall Hotline: (800) 638-2772CPSC Media Contact: (301) 504-7908

Rheem Recalls to Repair Oil-Fired Furnaces Due to Fire Hazard
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with the firm named below, today announced a voluntary recall of the following consumer product. Consumers should stop using recalled products immediately unless otherwise instructed.

Name of Product: Rheem, Ruud and United Refrigeration Oil-Fired Furnaces
Units: About 14,000

Manufacturer: Air Conditioning Division of Rheem Manufacturing Co., of Fort Smith, Ark.

Hazard: If the furnace is not properly wired, the oil burner can continue to operate when the blower shuts off, posing a fire hazard to consumers.

Incidents/Injuries: Rheem has received one report in which the furnace was incorrectly wired. No injuries or property damage have been reported.
Description: This recall involves oil-fired furnaces sold under the Rheem, Ruud and United Refrigeration brands. Only the models beginning with the model numbers listed in the chart below and with date codes ending in 0106 through 5206, 0107 through 5207, or 0108 through 4808 are included in this recall. The model number and date code (designated by the four digits following an “M” in the middle of the serial number) are printed on the unit’s rating plate, which is on the left wall of the furnace’s interior just above the burner. The rating plate can be found by opening the unit’s burner access door, which has slotted openings.

See Model Number/ Brand & Description

  • ROBF
    Rheem Classic/Ruud Achiever High Efficiency Upflow Oil Furnace
  • ROPF
    Rheem Classic/Ruud Achiever High Efficiency Downflow/Horizontal Oil Furnace
  • TZOUP
    United Refrigeration “Thermal Zone” Upflow Oil Furnace
  • TZODH
    United Refrigeration “Thermal Zone” Downflow/ Horizontal Oil Furnace

Sold by:
Contractors nationwide to consumers from January 2006 through December 2008 as part of installed systems for between $1,500 and $10,000.

Manufactured in: United States
Remedy: Consumers should immediately contact the contractor who installed the oil furnace to arrange for a free inspection and repair, if necessary.

Consumer Contact: For additional information, contact Rheem at (800) 577-3960 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. CT Monday through Friday, or visit the firm’s Web site at www.rheemac.com.

About Us
Advanced Restoration Corporation is a family-owned and operated full-service property damage restoration company with a combined 75 years experience in dealing with Fire Damage Restoration, Water Damage Restoration, Flood & Storm Damage, Mold Remediation, Smoke Damage Restoration and Reconstruction. We service Long Island (Nassau County, NY; Suffolk County, NY) and the New York Metro area. Call (800) 693- 6263 for additional information, or visit us on the web at www.AdvancedRestoration.com.

Tags: disaster, property damage, fire restoration, puffbacks, nassau county restoration, burn hazard, fire recall, advanced restoration, advanced restoration corporation, suffolk county restoration, emergency service, restoration company, fire protection, cpsc recall, smoke restoration, heating

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