With Tropical Storm Arthur poised to become the first hurricane of the season, there are preparations residents should be making now to help reduce the storm’s impact on their homes and businesses over the holiday weekend.
Before the storm hits
- Clean gutters and storm drains of leaves and debris so water can flow freely.
- Makes sure that gutters drain away from the building’s foundation.
- Tie down or store items that will become airborne during the storm – e.g., trashcans, furniture, umbrellas, planters.
- Inspect lower levels (basements, first floors) and remove anything that is vulnerable to water. Papers and files will be instant casualties during any flooding. Store them in filing cabinets or drawers.
- Back up computers and charge laptops, tablets and cell phones in case of a power outage.
- Businesses should have some tarps, absorbent wipes, a wet vacuum and mops in case of flooding or water damage. Tarps spread over computers and other electronics can protect them and reduce damage.
- Take photos of every room – this provides a digital inventory should any damage occur.
- Fill zip seal bags about 2/3 full with water and place them in the freezer. If the electricity goes out the bags can be used to keep food cool.
- Know where insurance policies are and what is covered.
- Gather flashlights, battery-operated candles, and extra batteries.
- Have a supply of bottled water on hand for washing and drinking. Residents who have wells should fill the bathtub or other containers with water.
- Have a supply of non-perishable food – canned goods, prepackaged food that doesn’t require cooking – and a manual can opener in case of a power outage.
According to catastrophe modeling firm AIR Worldwide, wind speeds from a Category 1 hurricane should cause minor damage to most structures. Engineered structures like reinforced concrete and steel buildings should see very little damage. Mobile homes and light metal structures will be more vulnerable and could experience some damage.
“Preparing ahead of time can help reduce the amount of damage a business or home suffers from a hurricane or severe storm,” says Rusty Amarante, director of operations for BELFOR Property Restoration. “If you are traveling, be aware of the weather at your destination, and make sure that you have reservations or a place to stay in advance. If you are at a beach locale, take steps to secure your home or business from the high winds and possible flooding. Don’t wait until the last minute when your safety is at stake.”
During the Storm
- Monitor the local news and weather channels for changes in the weather, tornadoes, flooding and other weather-related events.
- Unplug non-essential electronics in case of a power surge – e.g., computers, televisions, sound systems.
- Stay away from windows and sliding glass doors during heavy winds.
- If the power goes out, use battery operated candles and flashlights. If using traditional candles, do not leave them unattended and make sure pets can’t knock them over when lit.
- Keep the freezer and refrigerator closed to preserve food. Most food will remain frozen for 24 hours or longer in a closed freezer. Keep frequently used food or drinks in a cooler with ice instead of the refrigerator.
After the Storm
- Walk the property and see what, if any, damage occurred.
- Take pictures to document the damage.
- Contact your insurance company.
- Take steps to prevent further damage to the property – e.g., tarp any roofs that leak, board up any damaged windows.
- Check references on any vendors hired for cleanup, roofing or restoration work.
Planning ahead before any type of weather event often reduces its impact and can make the recovery afterwards go a little more smoothly. Today’s technology allows weather forecasters to track a storm’s path several days out and smart preparations are critical to minimizing damage.