Hurricane Ike Emergency Repair and Roof Replacement at Memorial Hermann Hospital

Hurricane Ike came ashore the upper Texas Gulf Coast on September 13, 2008 at 2:00 a.m. and left a path of utter destruction in its wake. Winds reached 110 miles per hour and wreaked havoc on many residential and commercial buildings. Storm surge waters reached 20 feet and millions of people lost electricity, use of public drinking water and even their homes. The Texas Medical Center and Houston’s Memorial Hermann Hospital campus received its share of damage, too.

High winds from the hurricane ripped off large portions of Spanish tile on the hospital’s numerous roof elevations. The tiles were blown all over the buildings; some impaled themselves in the adjacent flat roof areas and others fell to the ground damaging other parts of the building on the way down. Chamberlin and Manhattan Construction were on site immediately after the hurricane passed to assess the aftermath.

While Houston and surrounding areas were suffering from loss of electricity and gasoline shortages, Chamberlin was prepared to begin emergency repairs immediately after the hurricane ran its course. Generators were on hand to run the office’s phone and computer systems, and gasoline was delivered to power the truck fleet. Chamberlin’s project management team created a “situation room” to handle the large call volume and dispatch technicians to clients that needed help fast – clients like Memorial Hermann.

The five-building Memorial Hermann campus suffered significant damage to its Spanish tile and flat roofing systems. The tiles that remained intact on the roof were loose and posed a life-safety risk to pedestrians below.

“When you first looked at the building, you could not see the magnitude of damage on the multiple roof areas,” said Manhattan Construction Project Manager Lisa Cantrell. “The broken tiles created a chain reaction of damage.”

Over the course of three weeks, Chamberlin worked to remove the hazardous debris, stabilize existing roof systems and install temporary roofs on the Life Flight helipad, over the emergency room entrance and throughout the entire campus until permanent repairs could be made. Chamberlin was called upon again shortly after temporary repairs were made to install the permanent roofs atop the Memorial Hermann Cullen and Jones Pavilions, the Heart and Vascular Institute and The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research (TIRR) buildings.

The Chamberlin team installed a two-ply modified membrane roofing system along with wood blocking, sheet metal flashing and trim. Part of Chamberlin’s contract also included replacing the Spanish tile that was blown off in the storm. Chamberlin employed Graziano Roofing of Texas for their expertise in tile installation.

On both temporary and permanent repair projects, accessing the various roof areas was a significant challenge. Space limitations intrinsic to the Texas Medical Center provided no areas for material storage and no place to put a crane large enough to move materials. In addition, roof terrain that varied from totally flat to extremely steep made work conditions highly diverse. Some could not be accessed by crane, so smaller cranes were brought in to lift material to one roof level so that it could be hoisted to another level.

Beyond logistical challenges related to material management and construction in tight quarters, working on site also required Chamberlin maintain constant communication with Manhattan Construction and the hospital in order to ensure patient care was not marginalized in any way. Chamberlin coordinated as many as 50 on-site roofing mechanics each day.

Roofs were installed above operating, recovery and patient rooms. Likewise, modifications were made to the fireproofing beneath the roof deck inside the rooms. Each day, areas directly below construction work were closed off to patients and hospital staff for safety purposes.

“In the instance of an office building, for example, work can take place after hours,” explained Chamberlin Project Manager, Bob Edwards. “In this case we were performing work on a hospital that is occupied 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So, limiting disruption to patients was as much of a challenge as it was a priority. We had to work closely with Manhattan Construction and the hospital to close areas as needed.”

Despite the project challenges, Chamberlin went through the Memorial Hermann campus almost as fast as Hurricane Ike did.

“It was amazing how fast the project was mobilized and new roofs were installed, “said Manhattan Project Manager Sean Crozier. “Chamberlin was extremely timely on the emergency repairs, and their commitment and ability to get the hospital up and running was outstanding.”