Storm Damage: What to do after a storm and how to protect your property from other damage

A heavy storm such as a hurricane, tornado, or tropical storm, can be dangerous, frightening, and can cause a lot of damage to your home and other property. Some people may be prone to panic in such circumstances, but it is important for you to keep a level head, and take the proper steps to ensure that everything gets resolved and repaired in a safe, healthy, and timely manner.

stormThe first thing you should do is take steps to ensure that you and your family are safe. Don’t go outside or drive anywhere until the storm is completely over. You can use the radio to stay abreast of any warnings about recurring weather conditions. You should also avoid downed power lines, pools of standing rain water, and any building that appears to have suffered from structural damage. If you start to smell gas in your own home immediately shut the line off and call the gas company.

Once it’s safe to go outside again, you should immediately document any and all damage to your property. Try to get as many pictures from as many different angles as you can. This should all be done before any cleanup process is undertaken, so that you have proof of the state of the building immediately following the event. If further damage occurs after that you can also record it, and date it accordingly.

Next you need to asses the building for both major and minor damage. Cracks, breaks, or holes in the roof can be insidious problems that will worsen over time due to rain, and the elements. Those should be covered over with a tarp immediately to prevent further degradation. Broken windows, or other openings in the outer surface of the property can also be prone to water issues, and will be heat sinks in the winter.

When starting the cleanup process you have to be careful. If you are pulling branches from the roof or cleaning out the gutters then you need to have a sturdy ladder. If you are using a chainsaw to cut larger branches then extreme caution should be used, along with proper eye wear to prevent damage to your vision.

In some cases the task of cleaning away fallen trees or making repairs to the home will be too big to safely undertake yourself. In those instances a professional storm damage repair company should be contacted in order to help do the job right. Certified contractors and electricians will be able to restore the safety and function of your home, while landscaping and tree removal companies can handle large fallen trees and excessive branches.

If carpets or upholstery got wet then they can be aired out or removed completely before they start to develop harmful mould. Running a dehumidifier, and opening all of the windows throughout the day can help to get some of the humidity out of the air. Fans can also be pointed at particularly damp spots to speed the drying process.

Before contacting your insurance company you need to read your policy thoroughly so that you know exactly what your rights are. It may be difficult to contact them after a particularly bad storm, so use multiple methods such as phone, fax, and email. Also, be prepared to have to wait for a slow payout, as insurance companies may be responsible for many claims after a major weather event, causing the wheels of their bureaucracy to stall.

Picture by Ross Scott