Californians struggle to find roofers after recent winter storms


SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 18: Roofers with R E Roofing work at a home on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023, in San Jose, Calif. (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group)

As yet another winter storm bore down on the Santa Cruz Mountains earlier this month, booming 70 mph wind gusts ripped the red terra cotta tiles from the roof of the VIP tasting room at Byington Winery and Vineyard southwest of Los Gatos.

Finding a roofer to fix it anytime soon? Yeah, good luck with that.

After three years of drought when roof leaks were a freak of nature, this month’s deluge of storms has turned roof repair crews into highly sought-after rock stars.

Byington winery, perched among the redwoods overlooking Monterey Bay some 2,000 feet below, resorted to buckets to catch leaks seeping in from the ceiling and candlelight to illuminate the tasting room while the electricity was knocked out by the storms.

PG&E crews were able to restore power in a matter of weeks, but it could be months before roofing contractors can start work on the winery.

Jennifer Kinsman, director of operations at Byington, said that means if the wet weather returns this winter, so will the buckets. “It’s really all you can do right now,” she said, “we have to make do and be patient.”

During the drought, roofers might have expected only a few inquiries each week, but now they are working frantically around the clock — leaving many homeowners and businesses on their own to confront the damage.

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 18: A roofer with R E Roofing sets up a harness while working at a home on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023, in San Jose, Calif. (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group)
SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 18: A roofer with R E Roofing sets up a harness while working at a home on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023, in San Jose, Calif. (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group) 

Mauricio Flores, general manager of Bay 101 Roofing in San Jose, wishes he could help more people. His workers have labored through weekends, endured the elements and scrambled from job to job, crisscrossing the Bay Area. Even so, it’s been impossible to keep up with the roughly two-dozen calls he’s still receiving each day.

“Having to ride from Fremont to Redwood City to San Francisco, it’s been mayhem,” Flores said. “It’s gotten to the point where even the owner himself is going out on Saturdays to take care of inspections.”

Over the past few weeks, Flores has never seen as many shingles blown off homes. Some houses with flat roofs, meanwhile, became so flooded that they required high-powered pumps to drain. And at multiple properties, large pine cones knocked from their branches by powerful winds smashed roofing tiles to pieces.

“Some of the things I’ve been seeing from this storm — it’s been crazy,” Flores said.

Statewide, the total damage from the three-week parade of atmospheric rivers is expected to top $1 billion, according to the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. President Joe Biden, who visited the wreckage along the Central Coast this week, recently approved a major disaster declaration for Santa Cruz, Monterey, Sacramento, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Merced counties — fast-tracking direct funding for homeowners and business owners facing property damage and other losses.

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 18: A roofer with R E Roofing works at a home on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023, in San Jose, Calif. (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group)
SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 18: A roofer with R E Roofing works at a home on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023, in San Jose, Calif. (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group) 

Miles Proctor, owner of R E Roofing and Construction in Campbell, said the relentless storms following years of dry weather, slowly warping roofing material, has exposed festering problems for property owners. He’s now getting bombarded with upwards of 50 calls a day.

For many desperate homeowners, the only option is to put tarps over the damage and hope roofers can fit them into their manic schedules.



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