Cleaning Up the Mess
A storm can be devastating for an area, and the worse the storm, the worse the damage can be. It destroys the road, leaving potholes which cause flat tires and more damage to cars. It can drop power lines or trees that fall into them, causing a power blackout for large areas. When trees fall, they can damage cars, homes and people’s lives in the process. Lightning can be worse, starting fires during the storm and doing a lot more damage where it strikes. Hail when strong enough can break windows, dent cars, and destroy the garden, the house, and the yard. It can take a lot to clean up in the house, and outside of it. And depending on how helpful you are in your community, can take some extra work there too.
Before you get started in cleaning up your mess you need to look around your property and evaluate what needs to be done. Ask yourself some basic questions before you start anywhere. Did water, dirt, or mud get inside the house? Is there anything missing in the yard, such as yard decorations, fencing, maybe your mailbox? We go over these things in more detail below, by providing you with a list of what to look for and how to go about fixing it if needed. If you used sandbags, is there still water around them?
Did Anything Get Broken?
After you have looked inside the house for any damage you are going to want to walk your entire property and really look at it. If there was a broken window in the house you would probably know it by now and either have a window guy ready to come out, or your insurance company will have someone come out if you contacted them. Windows are the first thing to look for, and not just on the house but on the cars too. Without getting on any ladders, which could be dangerous with the ground still wet, survey your house up and down. You are looking for any branches or debris that might have flown onto the roof of your home, and could cause a problem.
Chances are that there is a lot of debris around the yard, most of which will be sticks and leaves which can be easily cleaned up. If there is anything other than that, you will need to determine if it poses a hazard, if it belongs to anyone in the neighborhood, and if it is salvageable. Make the calls you need to, to get any damaged windows, trees, or structural damage taken care of to the house before you do anything else. Take pictures as the insurance company is going to want proof if they are going to pay for any damages. (Some insurance companies only wanting certain people or companies to fix the issues, so be sure you find out before you hire anyone to get the work done. Otherwise you could be paying for all the damage yourself.)
It’s not just your house you need to look out for, but your car, the road, and the neighbors as well.
Is Everything Accounted For?
While searching the yard and the house you want to make sure that everything that was in and around the house Is still there. It might not all be in the same place where you saw it before the storm, and depending on the damage it could be buried in the debris, or floating away somewhere down the street. While your family should all be ok and safe, being inside the house, you also want to make sure all your pets are ok. A dog or cat may not be accounted for, but a neighbor might have taken them in.
If you had pictures of your yard before the storm, that would be the best place to start. Otherwise you could be forgetting something and leave it out of a claim, which means less money from the insurance company. That picture is also a way to spot how your yard looked before, and how you can put it back together to look like that again. This would include any bushes, trees, plants, planters, lawn furniture and lawn ornaments. It could also include any outdoor décor such as umbrellas, chairs, tables and more. (Umbrellas and plastic patio furniture are the most common things to get blown away in high winds.) The better you are at being able to identify what belongs to you, and what your yard used to look like, the better you will be at putting everything back together.
(While you might not notice, if you are in a flood area, the level of your yard might actually be higher than it was before thanks to the mud and debris. If there is a fence or wall in your yard you might be able to use that to measure your yard, noticing where it is now, versus then.)
Saving Money on Damages
While damages can add up, and become quite costly there are some ways you can save money on anything that needs to be fixed, or replaced. First you will need to make a list of all the damages and / or problems that need to be fixed. Then you are going to want to list them in order from the highest priority to the lowest. Damage done to the house should come first, so any broken windows, water or mud that got into the house, roof damage, etc. needs to be addressed as the number one priority. Your home is the most important as it is the safe zone for you and your family and should be comfortable to live in, not a nuisance. Number two will be a car or cars if they happened to be damaged as well. You can’t get very far, let alone go to work easily if you don’t have transportation. Last would be any minor repairs which would be the yard, or decorations and this does include gardening.
The first step to saving money is to call the insurance companies to see what they can do. It might take some time, as some companies are faster than others, and it will also depend on the coverage that you have. This goes for the house and the cars.
The next step is doing what you can yourself to fix anything before you should call in people to handle repairs. Getting a wet vac will help remove water and mud from the floor, and save time from having to do it by hand. Boards can be placed over the broken windows to at least keep the heat in, and protect the house from burglars, until a window person can come out. A tarp might be a temporary solution to a hole in the roof, until a roofer can come in and take care of that problem as well. While you might need to spend some money to handle jobs yourself, and it might take a bit longer, it will ultimately save you a huge cost.
What you want to keep in mind is that the storm affected everyone. So, these professionals you want to call to take care of the problems, could have a stack of jobs to take care of, and end up charging a higher rate. The longer you hold out, the more the rate will come down.