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Assessing Storm Damage

Severe thunderstorms can cause a lot of damage to and around your home. By assessing the damage completely, you’ll be in a better position to deal with insurance companies and repair firms. Here are some tips to guide you:

Basement: Even if you don’t normally get flooding after a storm, inspect your basement carefully. Take a flashlight and look in every corner. Even small leaks can cause major mildew and rust problems. If you spot dampness, make sure everything can dry out quickly. Investigate ways to prevent future water problems.

Roof: Thoroughly inspect the roof for loosened, missing or torn shingles. Check for bent or missing sections flashing. If it isn’t practical for you or a helper to get up on the roof, an inspection is often possible from the ground using binoculars. You may have to move a distance away from the house (across the street or into a neighbor’s yard) to get a view, but the binoculars usually make it possible to see the entire roof without the risk of falls.

Gutters and downspouts: Check to see if the gutters still slope towards the downspouts and are still fastened securely. It is quite likely that storm debris has or will clog your gutters, so make arrangements to have them cleaned.

Siding: Because most siding is installed in an interlocking pattern, it is important to discover problems when they are still small. If the problem is overlooked or ignored, it often becomes necessary to replace all the siding on that side of the house.

Trees: Inspect all your trees. Look for limbs that have broken but not yet fallen. Look for dead branches that will likely fall in the future. Check to make sure no branches hang over the roof. Even if the branches don’t touch the roof, keep in mind that they can droop considerably when wet. Strong winds can work the branch back and forth and tear the shingles off your roof. Check for branches that are close to power lines. Finally, check the ground around trees. Look for signs that the roots have started to pull out of the soil. Once weakened in this way, a tree is much more likely to come down in future storms.

Safety stocks: While the storm and its implications are fresh in your memory, make sure you have working flashlights, spare batteries, a battery operated radio, candles and other supplies on hand for the next storm.

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