Hurricane Irene Gutter Cleaning Kills Man

Tragedy struck up and down the East Coast as Hurricane Irene made landfall last week. In all 44 people lost their lives to the storm. The staff at Olger Fallas Painting wishes to send condolences to the family and friends who lost loved ones. Out of all the horrible loss of life one story has really impacted us.

Hurricane Irene Related Death

On Saturday August 27th at 5PM David Lemus, a 60 year old man from North Bergen fell from a height of two stories. He was cleaning the gutters of his home in preparation for Hurricane Irene while his family was inside the home celebrating his wife’s birthday. The man was taken to Christ Hospital in Jersey City with severe head injuries. He later died. Authorities believe the accident was not caused by Hurricane force winds but instead was attributed to the man losing his footing on the ladder.

Hurricane Irene Reaches New York City

Hurricane Irene Reaches New York

Many people were taken off guard by the strength and power of this storm. Here in the East we rarely get hurricanes this far North. Due to the rarity many of us don’t know what to do and we simply panic. I saw connected townhouses where one homeowner had boarded up the windows while their neighbor left them wide open.

In any emergency it’s important to stay calm. In the case of the North Bergen man it is sad that a Do-It-Yourself project caused loss of life. Unfortunately, DIY projects have a high rate of injury. An estimated forty thousand people fall off ladders every year due to DIY projects.

DIY Gutter Cleaning Safety Tips

While we don’t recommend DIY projects and would prefer you call professionals like us for all your gutter cleaning needs here are a couple of tips to keep in mind if you do choose the DIY path.

  • It’s important to read all the labels and markings on your ladder before use.
  • Before starting your project and setting down your ladder check for overhead power lines.
  • Inspection of your ladder before use is critical. If the ladder looks damaged or even worn do yourself a favor and get a new ladder.
    If the ladder is damaged or worn get a new ladder.

    If the ladder is damaged or worn get a new ladder.

  • If the ladder is meant to open as self-supporting then don’t use it as a flat ladder. You risk the ladder opening while you are on it and setting the balance off.
  • Never stand on the top step of any ladder.
  • Don’t use a ladder in the rain or under any wet conditions.
  • Make sure the ladder is on a level surface before stepping onto it.
  • Don’t balance the ladder on top of an unstable surface.
  • Never move a ladder while someone is on it.
  • Make sure the locks on the ladder are engaged.
  • Don’t exceed the maximum weight the ladder can hold.


Again, our condolences go out to all the families and friends who lost loved ones during Hurricane Irene. Let’s all work together to keep ourselves and our homes safe. Gutter cleaning is an important part of keeping your home safe but please consider using Olger Fallas Painting instead of doing it yourself.


  • North Bergen man dies of head wounds suffered in fall while cleaning gutters in preparation for Irene (
  • Before and After Pictures of Hurricane Irene Are Stunning and Sad [Image Cache] (
  • Irene NYC, A Beautiful Short Film About Hurricane Irene in Manhattan (


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