Storm Damage Risks
Storms come with little warning, and the resulting damage can be devastating, leaving communities in a state of emergency. According to the National Weather Service, the United States endures an average of 1,000 tornadoes and 100,000 thunderstorms every single year.
Within every five years, approximately three hurricanes also hit the East and South Coasts. On average, storms, tornadoes, hurricanes and major floods in the United States result in over 250 deaths and 3,560 injuries every year.
In 2019 alone, these severe weather events were responsible for more than $40 Billion in damages across the country and numerous power outages. Damage from a single storm can affect numerous homes and buildings, significantly impacting families and communities. Storm destruction also takes an economic toll, impacting businesses and increasing unemployment claims, as well as the need for emergency aid.
Storm damage can take several forms—water and flood damage and wind and roof damage are typical.
Homeowners who experience flood, rain and wind damage from unpredicted weather events need storm damage repair services to fix their homes swiftly and keep their families safe.
Storm Flooding and Water Damage
Flooding can occur with any storm, while severe storms with lots of rain are most likely to cause flooding. Areas with dry, compact soil are more susceptible to flash flooding, but any environment can experience flooding if rainfall or snowmelt exceeds the ground’s ability to absorb water.
Floods can be challenging to stop, even when expected. You may be able to use barriers or ditches to obstruct the water, or you may have to wait until the flood naturally subsides. In either scenario, the impacts of a flood can be severe.
Damage from floodwater occurs quickly as water pools in basements and flooring. Flood water can immediately consume personal belongings and valuables, as well as furniture, carpets and appliances. The longer flood water is left standing, the more water damage occurs.
Wind and Roof Damage
Hurricanes, tropical storms and tornadoes can result in windstorm damage. Wind damage to roofs, windows and siding occurs rapidly, and homeowners tend to be at the mercy of the storm until it’s over. With exterior or roof damage, your home can become exposed to the elements allowing strong winds and heavy rain to damage your house, furniture and belongings.
During fair weather, homeowners can prevent the likelihood that a significant storm will cause damage by ensuring the roof is maintained. You can do this by replacing your roof when it ages and immediately fixing damaged shingles as they occur. However, there are never any guarantees that a storm won’t damage your roof or home.
Causes of Storm Damage
Many weather events can cause damage, and the weather most likely to impact your home depends on your climate and region.
For example, tornadoes tend to hit the states like Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas in “Tornado Alley,” as well as parts of the Midwest. Hurricanes typically make landfall on Atlantic coastal states, with particularly hard-hit areas like New York and South and North Carolina, and snowstorms and blizzards tend to impact states that experience annual snowfall.
However, the weather is unpredictable, and your home can potentially experience a weather phenomenon that isn’t common in the area.
Preparing your home for floods, rainfall, snow, hurricanes and tornadoes is the best way to prevent future damage.
Floods and Rainfall
Numerous types of floods damage homes each year, many of which are beyond the immediate control of homeowners. Damage from these floods can occur quickly and be severe.
Rainfall is the most known cause of a flood and can result in overbank or flash flooding. Overbank flooding occurs when a river or piece of land is oversaturated with water and gradually floods the surrounding area. The water from these floods is often slow-moving, taking several days to clear up on its own.
Not all floods are gradual. Flash floods happen quickly and are accompanied by fast-moving water, which makes them incredibly dangerous.
People in flash floods need to vacate the area immediately if it starts to rain. Fortunately, areas prone to flash flooding tend to be well known and marked.
But rain isn’t responsible for all floods. Coastal flooding, or storm surges, is caused by storms moving ocean water over land in large volumes. In cold climates, ice can create temporary dams called ice jams. When these ice jams eventually break, the water can be released rapidly, behaving like a flash flood.
Snow and Blizzards
Blizzards can have a rapid onset, instantly transforming a winter wonderland into a white-out nightmare. Car accidents are common during snowstorms, as people overestimate their ability to see and drive in snowy conditions, or can’t drive to safety fast enough.
People who get stuck in a blizzard are also in a precarious position, as they can get hit by an object, such as falling branches, or get frostbite and hypothermia. All of these occurrences can be life-threatening.
Blizzards can also cause significant damage to homes without adequate protection.
Falling objects can smash into houses, while heavy snow can cause roofs and decks to collapse. When the weather warms, melting snow and ice can result in an unexpected flood and water damage.
In some regions, sudden atmospheric freezing can cause hail storms, leading to potentially devastating hail damage from large hailstones.
Hurricanes and Tornadoes
The high wind speeds of tornadoes and hurricanes can damage or destroy your home. Wind and tornado damage can include ripped shingles and siding, and loose objects that can decimate your home.
Meanwhile, everyday objects become projectiles as the storm picks up debris in its path and tosses it aside as it moves along. It’s not uncommon for wood, fallen trees and bushes, and lawn furniture to get picked up by a storm.
To make matters worse, hurricanes and tornadoes coincide with heavy rains, storm surges and flooding.
Storm Damage Repair and Restoration
Damage from storms can be devastating, but there are professionals who are ready to help and provide emergency services. Restoration contractors will work with you to assess the damage, make necessary repairs and restore your home to its previous state.
Here is what to do after your home has been damaged by a storm:
1. Always Stay Safe
Your safety is of utmost importance, and it’s critical that you keep yourself and your family safe during and immediately following a storm.
Do not check on your home during a severe storm, and always ensure your local area is safe before you leave shelter.
If it is safe, ensure you have proper lighting and stay alert to potential hazards. Check your carbon monoxide detector before entering your home. Downed power lines, broken glass, wood and nails, compromised structures and standing water can be dangerous. If you’re unsure whether a situation is safe, wait for a contractor to arrive.
2. Call A Storm Damage Restoration Company
Restoration companies can become extraordinarily busy after a major storm. You should contact a local company and book an appointment as soon as possible after the storm.
After you call, an inspector will come to your home and assess the damage. They should look at the roofing and siding, foundation, basement and any other aspect of the house that may have been impacted.
The storm and damage repair process will vary significantly, depending on the type of damage and its location. The restoration company can advise you of their plan to repair your home after their assessment.
The restoration company will also advise you on whether it is safe to stay in your home during storm restoration and how long you will need to stay elsewhere.
3. Assess The Damage
While you wait for the restoration company to arrive, take inventory of damage from the storm and be sure to document everything thoroughly. Take photos of anything visibly damaged while writing notes about what you observe.
Be on the lookout for damage to your home, including the roof, siding and windows, as well as other personal property damage.
4. Call Your Insurance Company
You should also call your insurance company to confirm your coverage and inform them that your home has been damaged. Your policy and budget may impact the extent of repairs the restoration company can do.
Preventing Storm Damage
Preventing storm damage requires dedication to the care and maintenance of your home. There are also several tasks you should undertake in preparation of storm season and before an impending storm hits.
Inspect these part of your home regularly throughout the year for damage or wear that can make your home vulnerable to damage:
- Roof shingles
- Gutters and soffit
- Drains and ditches
If any of these items are dented, cracked or otherwise damaged, they should be repaired immediately before the next storm hits.
These upgrades can help make your home more resilient during a storm:
- Install storm shutters on windows
- Replace glass with impact-resistant varieties
- Reinforce garage doors
- Add heavy-duty bolts to doors and windows
- Seal any cracks in the walls and foundation
- Install a sump pump
- Install a generator
Immediately before a storm, clear your yard. Bring in outdoor furniture, bikes, BBQs, scrap materials and any other items that aren’t permanently secured to the ground. Check trees and bushes for unstable foliage and trim as needed. You may want to cover windows and doors with plywood if you haven’t previously installed storm shutters.
Asbestos Dangers After Storm Damage
If you’ve suffered damage to your home after a storm, it’s important to be aware of the potential for asbestos exposure. Many older homes contain the carcinogenic material, and when disturbed by storms, asbestos fibers can dislodge and become airborne.
Asbestos can lead to deadly diseases if handled improperly. If your home contains asbestos and you’ve recently suffered storm damage, you may need to work with a professional asbestos remediation company to safely dispose of the material before beginning any restoration.
Filing Storm Damage Insurance Claims
Storm insurance is available for many homeowners as part of their regular policy, with opportunities to upgrade to more extensive coverage. It’s common for policies to cover hail, water, wind, sewer, tree and freezing temperature damages. Most policies also include roof damage up to a certain amount but may restrict it to roofs of a certain age.
Flood damage is always separate insurance that should be purchased if you’re not prepared to cover the costs in the event of a flood.
Report any damage to your insurance company immediately after a storm has damaged your home. Prepare evidence of your case by taking photos of the damage to your home and belongings and writing down notes.
Once you are aware of the extent of the damage, contact your insurer. Your insurance company will advise you on the next steps, tell you how to file storm damage insurance claims and advise you of your coverage. Keep in mind there may be a deductible you need to pay before your insurance policy covers any damages.
Be sure to keep all the receipts and invoices you receive from cleanup and repairs. When your home is restored, you will need to finalize your claim and submit these proofs of purchase.
Hiring Storm Damage Repair Contractors
Storm damage can be overwhelming and stressful to deal with, but fortunately, a restoration company can help your family overcome the impacts of a storm. Depending on the damage to your home, you may need to hire different contractors, including plumbers, electricians and storm damage specialists.
Only hire trusted, licensed professionals who have the equipment and expertise to safely and properly restore your home after a natural disaster. Storm damage repair contractors are experts at eliminating storm hazards and returning homes to their previous state.