Superstorm Sandy wasn’t finished wreaking havoc in South Jersey when the voice messages started piling up on Spencer Tait’s office phone two weeks ago.
Two days later, Tait, of the family business Taitco/Tait Roofing in Moorestown, said he's been trying to prioritize the more than 100 calls he received.
Hurricanes in New Jersey are uncommon. But one in late October is just plain strange.
“We don’t really remember a storm like this during this time of year, at least since we’ve been in business. And this storm was way worse than Irene,” said Tait, referring to the hurricane that unleashed high winds and powerful rains on the region in late August 2011.
Estimates say Sandy caused $50 billion in damage along the East Coast, making it the second costliest storm after Hurricane Katrina.
And no sooner had Sandy overwhelmed the area with a combination of rain, storm surges and downed trees when another storm—a nor’easter dubbed "Athena" by the Weather Channel—hit the East Coast Wednesday, causing more damage to already mangled homes.
A day later, Tait’s crews were grabbing coffees and cleaning icy slush off their windshields, readying for another day of patching leaky roofs and replacing siding. According to Tait, this destruction will propel his company with nonstop work over the next few months.
“It’s been crazy. Most of the damage has been from fallen trees, although there are a lot of shingles blown off of houses,” said Tait, 29. “And a lot of basements are flooded.”
When Sandy hit, Tait said a couple of large oak trees were uprooted on his own property, smashing his fence.
Tait, his wife and young son, who live in Moorestown, were among 3 million people across 15 states and the District of Columbia who lost power. Tait said they were at least luckier than others, with his power restored within a couple days.
Started in 1973 by patriarch Larry C. Tait, the company employs 19 workers, including another son, Lincoln, 32, the shop foreman. Larry, 62, and his wife Suellen, 58, are longtime residents of Moorestown and raised their family here.
The Tait family’s Moorestown roots run deep. Last year, the family pitched in and offered their expertise to save the Swede Run Barn. During the restoration project, they donated their time to replace the roof and install new shingles.
Known in the area for its roofing work, Taitco/Tait Roofing also employs full-service contractors specializing in additions, decks, kitchens, windows and doors.
The National Association of the Remodeling Industry recognized the firm as certified remodelers, and the walls of the company's Mill Street office are jam-packed with honorary awards from the building industry.
“As I said, this will be a tremendous amount of work,” Tait said of the storm-wracked town, “but we’ll get to each customer’s claim.”