Before it's all over, workers repairing damage caused by a violent spring hailstorm will have witnessed all four seasons from their perches on Lawrence rooftops.
Steve Mesler, owner of Mesler Roofing, one of several companies kept busy since the city was pounded by hail March 26, said he'll have crews atop roofs until next year.
Donna Thomas, whose husband, Tim, owns Anchor Roofing & Painting, said, "Almost six months later, we're still getting calls" from people who need their homes repaired.
Property in Lawrence sustained millions of dollars in damage from the hailstorm.
During interviews last week, a number of roofing company owners said their crews are behind schedule. Mesler said the city's older homes are taking more time to repair than expected.
MOST HOMES, he said, take about a day or two to repair, but older homes, which have steeper-pitched roofs, are taking a week or two or more to fix.
To boost his own work force, Mesler hired out-of-town help, and those crews finished nearly 500 roofs, he said. That's about how many roofs Mesler's company usually handles in an entire year, he said.
Asked whether quality had to be compromised for quantity, Mesler answered, "Inevitably, when you're doing 500 roofs in a matter of three to four months, there are bound to be some problems and complaints." But Mesler said his company will work with homeowners who aren't satisfied.
Mary Horsch, press secretary in Kansas Atty. Gen. Bob Stephan's office, said that office hasn't fielded any complaints from Lawrence residents upset about hail damage repairs done on their homes or cars.
Bob Brown, who lives at 614 Utah, said he's isn't upset that work is just starting at his home. Because Brown's home also was struck by lightning, the roof was not his top concern.
"WE JUST got our shingles the other day," he said.
Brown said repairs also were delayed because "the insurance company didn't want to give us enough money to start with, so we had to deal with that. Then it was just a matter of getting people out."
Brown said his family chose to do business with a local company because "that way we know that when it's done we'll feel we'll have somebody to talk to."
Susan Peterson, who owns a home at 2100 Tenn., said she is working with a Topeka company because of a friend's referral.
Peterson said she contacted the company in June, and "then I never heard from them again." When she called the company to find out whether her home had been overlooked, Peterson was told that the company was behind schedule. Work started at her home Thursday.
Because there wasn't extensive damage to her roof, Peterson said she didn't mind waiting.
DAN BRATCHER, office manager for Weathercraft, a Topeka roofing company that is doing work in Lawrence, said he would estimate that 10 percent to 15 percent of the homes damaged by the hailstorm still are in need of repair. He added that many owners of apartment complexes and larger buildings have opted to delay repairs, hoping that prices will go down.
Echoing Mesler, Bratcher said a lot of work remains ahead for roofers.
Although Bratcher said Weathercraft has heard from customers wondering whether they'd been forgotten, he said most people have patient.
"Our biggest problem is just our work force," he said. "We don't hire out-of-town help, so we're backed up quite a bit."
Like other companies, Weathercraft has given priority to homes that were extensively damaged, Bratcher said.
"If a home is leaking badly, we'll shuffle our schedule around," he said.
BRAD ALLEN, president of Allen Roofing in Lawrence, said "people on the whole have been very understanding" about delays. Allen said people working with local companies have been especially patient because they'd rather wait for repairs than have the work done by out-of-town companies.
"A lot of people heard the horror stories, and they're really pleased to go ahead and wait," he said.