3 Tips for Cleaning up After Wind Damage

wind damageNow that winter snows are melting across the Midwest, homeowners unfortunately have other messes to think about with the approach of storm season. When thunderstorms, tornadoes or the rare but long lasting windstorms called derechos, sweep through and damage your roof or trees, don’t rely on your own wits to fix the aftermath. Instead, do what any kid would do – call for help.

Power Down

Strong winds in any wooded area inevitably knock down tree branches and even larger limbs – making after-storm cleanup all the more dangerous. Home and property owners whose trees are near overhead power lines should make sure they have cut tree limbs back at the beginning of storm season. And even though utility companies have regular tree-trimming schedules, downed limbs still cause about 30 percent of all power outages, according to Wisconsin Public Service Corp., Green Bay, Wis. If a limb should knock down an electrical line, follow a simple rule: assume the line IS HOT until it’s back on the pole. “If there’s debris down by lines, you’re going to want to make sure the utility company comes out to make sure that line is not energized,” says Lisa Prunty, public relations manager for Wisconsin Public Service. “There may be more debris if we have to cut trees to get into the area that’s affected. So then again, we would have that customer wait until we know that that line is de-energized or back up on the pole where it should be.” In preparation for high winds, WPS also advises people to stow anything that could blow into the air and into a power transformer -- lawn furniture, even Mylar balloons.

Fiddling on the roof

Before storms hit, make sure edging and tiles on your roof aren’t loose or drooping. High winds can grab loose tiles and fixtures in a heartbeat and peel them off like an orange rind. Should tiles or other pieces of your roof get damaged, do-it-yourselfers should inspect the carnage carefully. Water from a rainstorm can seep through damaged tiles and – depending on how long the leak has been there – ruin the plywood underneath, making a walk on the roof more dangerous. When in doubt, call a reputable roofer, preferably one that you or someone you trust knows. If you don’t know one, while you’re on the phone with your insurance company, ask an adjuster about the trusted contractors in your area that her or she uses (more on that later).

Too good to be true

What you don’t want to do is hire – much less give a deposit to – the first roofing outfit that blows into your neighborhood after the storm blows out. If your roof is damaged badly enough to require professional repair work, have that work done by somebody who really knows what to do. Beware especially of roofing crews that:
  • Don’t have a local address.
  • Have only a local P.O. box for an address.
  • Offer to fix your roof for far less than going market rates (for those, ask other local contractors or builders).
  • Can’t provide proof of bonding or insurance.
  • Can’t provide references from past jobs in the area.
Roofing crews running scams often try to talk homeowners into hiring them and paying them in a hurry. Many of them track storms on The Weather Channel or other news sources and show up amazingly quickly after the storm subsides. They may even work quickly – but they’ll often do substandard work that that will need to be replaced in a few years. Worse, many skip town before completing the job or doing any work at all. To avoid scam artists, make sure you have an insurance adjuster inspect extensive damage before you hire out any repair work. Then, find out what repair work really needs to be done and ask advice about local roofing companies. At the end of the day, doing what you can to avoid trouble before and after harsh spring storms will save you a lot of added grief – and help you enjoy the spring weather all the more. download the free Emergency Response Plan guide.  


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