For many parts of the United States, stormy winter weather has been relentless. In late January, the East Coast was attacked by the Winter Storm Jonas, which produced record levels of snowfall in multiple locations in Pennsylvania, New York and Baltimore. Around the same time, much of the West Coast got drenched with rain from El Niño that was badly needed in drought-stricken areas such as California, but also caused massive floods that kept insurers very busy. For some unlucky residents, the damage of Jonas was unavoidable. For other recent victims of storm devastation, preventative steps could have been taken to prepare for the potential consequences of extreme weather.
Here are five steps homeowners can take to protect their property during stormy weather to reduce the chance of catastrophic damages:
During a storm, lawn and deck furniture and other items can become dangerous projectiles, damaging your home or your neighbors’ homes.
1. Clear away outdoor items
Make sure all lawn furniture, gardening tools, sporting equipment and other outdoor items are stored away if a storm is heading your way. High winds during a heavy storm can potentially pick up these items and send them flying through a window or far away from your home. Putting away loose outdoor items in this situation can protect your house (and your neighbors’ houses) from unnecessary damage.
Also, make sure your windows and doors are closed and secured if you know a big storm is coming.
Keep you trees trimmed to protect your home, and neighboring homes, from branches that can be snapped off during a storm.
2. Trim the trees
Take time to examine the trees in your yard or surrounding your house. Storms will often snap large tree branches, which can damage your home’s siding, smash your car or even topple power lines and cause outages. Stand up on a ladder (carefully) and check how the branches are attached to the trunks of trees around your house. If the tree has a loose connection with a big branch, consider sawing it off. It might reduce some shade in the yard, but can potentially protect your home.
The key is to not cut down any branches or trees when a storm is approaching, as the loose vegetation could be dangerous if left in your yard, and services to remove the materials may be suspended or closed.
Shutters can protect your windows from heavy winds and flying debris in storm.
3. Install storm shutters
No matter how many preventative measures you take in your yard and around your home, the turbulent winds and heavy rains of a storm can still damage your windows. If you live in an area that frequently gets hit with high winds or is prone to hurricanes, storm shutters can prevent your windows from shattering and protect you from harsh debris.
Installing impact resistant storm shutters adds an additional level of security to the fragile glass planes.
Consider getting a home generator to keep the lights on in the event of a post-storm power outage. But make sure you don’t run it inside your house.
4. Have standby power
Electricity lines are vulnerable during storms. Fallen branches can easily snap the power lines, and lightning strikes can blow up transformers, causing major power outages. A whole-house surge protective device runs in the $200 to $300 range and is easy for an electrician to install.
For more-extreme weather patterns, consider purchasing a home generator to keep your power on in the event of long-term electricity outages.
There are steps you can take to keep floodwaters out of your home.
5. Flood-proof your home
Heavy rainstorms can lead to flooding, which can potentially wreak havoc on homes. Water damage can devalue a house and cause significant problems with the foundation. According to Westerra Real Estate, if a 2,000 square-foot home gets even six inches of floodwater in it, this can cause approximately $40,000 in damage. If you live in areas with a high probability of flooding, there’s a chance your Homeowners’ insurance won’t cover the repairs, so be sure to research your policy. One preventative option is dry flood-proofing your house by making the foundation watertight with concrete. This prevents water from being able to enter the enclosed areas of a house. Another option to consider is wet flood-proofing, which consists of modifying uninhabited areas under your house, such as a basement or crawlspace, to allow floodwaters to enter and exit. Be sure to seek necessary professional guidance before determining a flood-proofing method for your home.
Nobody can control the weather, but if you’re a homeowner in an area that could potentially get struck by a large storm, you should always be prepared for the worst. Doing your due diligence now can prevent major headaches, unexpected expenses and future safety hazards. While having a good Homeowners’ insurance policy to protect your property and finances is highly advisable, it’s even better when you don’t have to use it.
Disaster Planning Tips
Disasters come in endless varieties – sewage backflows, lightning strikes, earthquakes, wind damage, fires and hurricanes or even burst pipes. Whatever the cause, everything stops – abruptly. The Restoration Industry Association (formerly ASCR) has compiled this list of things to keep in mind when preparing your home or office for general emergencies:
Ask yourself: If you had to leave your home or business for three weeks, what would you wish that you had done?
Inspect every area and assess its vulnerability to water. Water is almost always a factor in disasters, whether from fire suppression, roof damage, plumbing failures, chemical spills or earth tremors, even when the damage originates on a remotely higher floor. Nothing but furniture and durable equipment should be stored directly on the floor. Paper records and items are instant casualties.
Desk and tabletops are vulnerable to water from sprinklers or runoff from higher floors, as well as to smoke and heat damage. Make sure important papers and files are put away in a filing cabinet or drawer.
Take photos of each room in your house or apartment, save them to a CD and print hard copies. Keep one set to take with you and a second set off site (e.g., safe deposit box, relative’s home). This gives you a digital inventory of the major contents in your house and what they looked like prior to water or fire damage.
Back up your computers and keep the information where it’s easily accessible in an evacuation as well as at an offsite location. (This is particularly important for people who work from home.)
Businesses should maintain a moderate stock of emergency supplies. A few dozen plastic tarps, a couple of wet-pickup vacuums with wands and floor attachments, and a few floor squeegees provide a primary level of protection at a moderate cost. A case of absorbent wipes can also be useful. Rapid response is the key to damage control. The ability to swiftly deploy tarps over computers, production equipment, file cabinets and other critical components can dramatically curtail the extent of damage.
If you have advance warning of a peril, charge cell phones, laptops, PDAs, etc. in case you’re without electricity for a few days.
Items to keep in your emergency kit or gather during an evacuation if possible:
Insurance information – health and homeowners policies
Melisa did such a great job and was so professional and nice. It really helped with the issues I was dealing with. Thanks Again!
- Janell, Waconia
Thank you for everything. You have been more than accommodating to me throughout this nightmare. I couldn’t be more pleased with the final outcome.
- Laura, Woodville, WI
I just can’t thank you enough for making our “water damage ordeal” go away so quickly. Your ability to organize subcontractors and the ICC crews is truly amazing, Mom and I are delighted to be back and settled into our little casa. Your genuine warmth and caring are truly gifts that you bring to your work. You are so appreciated!
- Jane, Stillwater
Thank you for sending Jake to my home. He was the most respectful young man I have ever met. He left my home very clean and he was very knowledgeable.
- Carolyn, White Bear Lake
The project manager did a great job communicating. He was so nice and did a great job checking in with us. Working with ICC was the best part of the flood. The crews really went out of their way to make sure we were well taken care of. The job could not have gone better.
- Nick & Abbie, Chanhassen
I don’t think your company performed work at Derek’s home as there was minimal damage, he called me today and thanked me profusely for referring ICC to him. He was very impressed with the rep that came to his house and the honesty and helpful advice he gave him about clean up and that it may not be in his best interest to file a claim. He is the type of customer that appreciates good service and will remember it and refer others. Thanks again for ICC’s help.
- Kimberley (Insurance Agent)
Thank you for such AMAZING service!
- Barbara (Insurance Agent), Rochester
ICC turned a really bad experience into a good one. We are very happy with all of the work that was done. They did a great job explaining the claims process.
- Linda, Oakdale
The crews were very professional and communicated well. They were great also about cleaning up after themselves. We would use ICC again. The crews were always on top of the process, which allowed the repairs to go smoothly.
- Church Representative, Edina
Erick did an excellent job explaining the process. We thought that everyone was very professional. They explained everything very well and followed through with everything. Communication could not have been better. I am very happy with my services.
- Gary, Osceola, WI
Our project manager was great to work with; he explained things well and answered all of our questions. Our coordinator also did a good job. Working with ICC was easy. Communication was wonderful and the crews were very professional. We would use ICC again in a heartbeat.
- Angie & Fran, Hudson, WI
The lead technician was great and explained things over the phone very well. I was very impressed. The crews were better than expected and very professional. ICC was extremely responsive; I was out of state and was so impressed with how they kept me informed.
- Jim & Cheryl, Victoria
I was very happy with all the crews at ICC. I had great experience and would not hesitate to work with ICC again should the need arise. Everyone there really knows what they are doing.
- Jerry, Cottage Grove
Dealing with the fire was a very upsetting time. ICC was able to get out to my home quickly and really helped reassure me that everything would be fine. ICC worked very well with my insurance company. I could not have been happier with the whole process. I know I asked a ton of questions and Mark was great about answering them all.
- Karen, St. Croix Falls, WI
The crews were always on time for their appointments. Our job went very well. I am so thankful for everyone at ICC and the excellent work they did.
- Michelle, Shoreview
Everyone I dealt with was just great. My project could not have gone better. Everyone at ICC is professional and is excellent at communicating. I would use ICC again and will be recommending them.
- Connie, Edina
The technicians did a fantastic job. Everyone really cared about me and my concerns. They were extremely knowledgeable, compassionate, and knew how to make me feel comfortable. ICC was amazing to work with.
- Kevin, Maple Grove
ICC was terrific to work with and I will be recommending them. I had an excellent experience.
- Patricia, Hudson, WI
The technicians were extremely detailed. I immediately felt like I was in great hands. They were also very calming, always on time and communicated well.
- Sally, Excelsior
The technicians were very good at explaining what was going to take place. They answered all of my questions in great detail. Everyone was very sympathetic to my situation and genuinely cared.
- Anita, St. Anthony
Our project manager payed great attention to detail and had excellent customer service. He was very compassionate and really cared about what we were going through. ICC was wonderful to work with. The crews were very professional and thorough.
- Brian & Jill, Woodbury
I was very pleased with the whole process. Everything went so much smoother than I expected. ICC really helped make it easy.
- Jackie, Woodbury
The crews were very professional and communicated very well. They responded very quickly to our phone calls and always made sure we knew what was going on.
- Robert, Maplewood
Thank you for the wonderful inspection findings and THANK YOU for your professionalism. So much appreciated.
- Carol, Burnsville
My project manager did a great job and was really nice to work with. My coordinator did a great job keeping me informed about the process as well. ICC was wonderful to work with; they were all very professional and treated my home well. The quality of the work done was impressive and I would definitely use them again.
- Paul, Maplewood
I was impressed by the short time it took for the clean up crew to make arrangements to meet me even though we were outside of the metro area.
- Karen, Osceola, WI
As the coordinator of facilities and grounds for the State’s fourth largest school district I am involved is a lot of activities and unfortunately some are emergencies in nature. This includes fire, floods, sewer backups and natural disasters. Thankfully this does not happen often but when it does I rely on a restoration company’s specialists who have the knowledge and equipment to quickly clean and restore the affected area of the building or grounds…
In Minnesota, ICC provides restoration and remediation services to Minneapolis MN, St Paul MN, Andover MN, Anoka MN, Stillwater MN, Eden Prairie MN, Apple Valley MN, Lakeville MN, St Cloud MN, Brooklyn Park MN, Bloomington MN, Burnsville MN, Eagan MN, Minnetonka MN, Woodbury MN, Oakdale MN, White Bear Lake MN, Inver Grove Heights MN, Coon Rapids MN, Plymouth MN, Chanhassen MN, North Branch MN, Cambridge MN, Blaine MN, Lino Lakes MN, Ham Lake MN, Ramsey MN, Golden Valley MN, Shakopee MN, Prior Lake MN, Farmington MN, Rosemount MN, Chaska MN, Mound MN, Watertown MN, Norwood MN, MN Young America MN, Belle Plaine MN, New Prague MN, East Bethel MN, Oak Grove MN, St Francis MN, Zimmerman MN and surrounding communities. In Wisconsin, we serve New Richmond WI, River Falls WI, Osceola WI, Roberts WI and surrounding communities.