The interior of a department store in a shopping center near New Orleans, LA was extensively water damaged when Hurricane Katrina tore mechanical equipment off the roof, opening the building to water intrusion from wind-driven rain. In addition to water damage restoration, the store was completely renovated and updated. This work, performed by the store, included removal of asbestos-containing fireproofing from beams and deck throughout the store. A dispute arose between the store and landlord regarding the fireproofing removal. We were asked to determine if the complete removal of the fireproofing was necessitated by damage to the fireproofing inflicted by the hurricane.
After conducting a site inspection and reviewing available documentation, we identified and evaluated water pathways from the hurricane-damaged roof into and within the building. This information, combined with our knowledge about hurricane damage and the physical properties of the fireproofing, allowed us to determine that complete removal of asbestos-containing fireproofing was not justified. Damage inflicted on the fireproofing by the hurricane could have been repaired by localized patching and cleanup of fireproofing debris.
To explain the issues involved, we prepared a presentation that included drawings, computer animations, video and photographic site documentation, to illustrate the specific damages and resulting water infiltration pathways into the building. This presentation allowed the protagonists to better understand the nature of hurricane damage to the building and thus facilitated a settlement of the dispute.