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Ken Carter of K&J Services demonstrates his window-washing technique. He said a scrubber and squeegee are essential to properly clean a window. The company also offers gutter cleaning and repair and siding cleaning

PLATTSBURGH -- A long-time window-cleaning business is back in operation in the North Country.

Ken and Jen Carter run K&J Services. They offer commercial and residential window washing, cleaning and repair of gutters and washing home siding.

"Some people might think window cleaning is easy. It's not," Carter said. "You can leave streaks or glare. If you don't dry them enough, it can rot the windowsill," he said.

It takes a scrubber and a squeegee to do a good job, he said. Paper towels simply push material into the window sill.

"If you don't wash your windows, dirt can actually bake into the window," Carter said. "Material can also get between the sill and the window. It can allow vapor to penetrate a double-paned window."

Carter said that as he approached 50, it was time to move south.

"I've been window washing all my life. I had a dream," he said. "We'd go to Florida and I would wash windows all year round. I wouldn't have to worry about the snow."

In 2005, the Carters moved to Coconut Creek, Fla., about 12 miles from Miami and bought a mobile home with $22,000 in savings.

They received some troubling news when they went to insure the home. Carter said they were told that because they bought the home during hurricane season, they had to wait until it ended before they could buy insurance.

Then, on Oct. 24, 2005, Hurricane Wilma hit Florida, including Coconut Creek.

Carter said the couple braved it out at first, but "when the roof left, we left."

Jen had wanted to go to a shelter, but they couldn't find one that would accept their pet chihuahua, Pinta. Carter said the storm started to come over at about 4 a.m.

"We were as ready as we could be. We couldn't sleep," he said.

Blinds on the sun porch started to blow higher and higher as the wind increased. By 6 a.m., they were right out straight, Carter said.

He said a neighbor from Brazil lived across the way, and both were keeping an eye on the other during the storm.

"As he turned around to pick up some siding, a steel shed went right over his head," Carter said. "If he was standing, it would've killed him."

Looking into the sky, Carter said he saw a black dot he thought was a tree. As it fell, it got bigger and bigger, until he realized it was a car.

The Carters hid in a bathtub, covered by a mattress and a dresser. Then, everything went calm, so they thought they were safe.

Another neighbor told them it was only the eye of the storm.

"Everything came back, but in reverse," Carter said.

He remembers the roof lifting off the trailer, then slamming back down. Finally, it was gone.

"I knew our home was gone. My wife was crying," Carter said.

They sought FEMA assistance, but that agency was still reeling after hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated New Orleans.

"We didn't hear from them," Carter said. "We didn't have much left. Just our truck, our car and some stuff that was left in a steel shed."

He said he will not return south after he witnessed what a hurricane can do.

K&J is now based in Keeseville. Carter said his territory extends from Rouses Point to Albany, and from the border to Rutland on the other side of the lake.

The goal is to rebuild the customer base, which is happening.

"Before we went to Florida, we had so many customers," Carter said. "We've never advertised. I tell people if we do good work, tell a friend," he said.

Carter now wonders if the couple was meant to stay in the North Country.

"I think Hurricane Wilma was waiting for us," he said. "My wife used to watch The Flintstones.' Not anymore."

dheath@pressrepublican.com

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