Plenty of wind and water damage along with gasoline shortages plagued air conditioning and refrigeration contractors in the early days following Hurricane Frances that swept across Florida over Labor Day weekend.

Ken Bodwell, president of the Florida Air Conditioning Contractors Association and partner in Innovative Service Solutions of Orlando, said Frances' 70- to 95-mph winds were well below the 145 mph winds of Hurricane Charley three weeks earlier. But whereas Charley sailed through various locales in an hour or so, slow-moving Frances produced winds and heavy rains for 24 hours.

"The real problem now is water damage," Bodwell said. "In areas where Charley had caused roof damage, there were tarps on the roofs. They were torn off by Frances, and there is a lot of water intrusion." He added that many lakes and rivers are at flood stage as well.

At the height of the latest storm, some 6 million residents were without power, he said, and evaluation of much HVACR equipment depends on the restoration of power.

But compounding the problem, he said, were initial widespread shortages of gasoline. He said Innovative Service Solutions in central Florida received requests for assistance on Florida's East Coast, where Frances made landfall, but the company was unable to send out trucks due to the lack of fuel.

Publication date: 09/13/2004