How To Survey Storm Damage Safely

Storms in northern Indiana can cause huge amounts of damage and be incredibly dangerous. After a storm pushes its way through our area, we’re left to clean up its aftermath.

When you’re a homeowner, that means surveying the storm damage to your house and property and identifying needed repairs.

No matter how severe the storm, it’s important to survey the damage safely. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you inspect your home after a storm.

BE SURE IT’S SAFE

Before you consider walking outside around your home, make sure that any danger from the storm has sufficiently passed, even if you are concerned about major damage.

Use caution and observe everything going on around you. Listen to weather reports on television or the radio and, if it seems mostly clear, make your own visual inspection. Be sure that any threat of a storm is over and it’s safe for you to be outside conducting a survey of your home.

“When it comes to surveying storm damage, a lot of it comes down to common sense,” says Steve Leffers, restoration project manager and designer for Paul Davis of Northeast Indiana. “You’ve got to be careful because you can be put in precarious situations because of storm damage.”

UNDERSTAND YOUR POTENTIAL DAMAGE

Different storms call for different types of inspections. High wind storms may knock down a lot of limbs and heavy rainstorms can lead to flooding. Severe thunderstorms can lead to both and also increase the potential for power outages or fires.

Leffers says that it’s important to take into account the type of storm that passed through as well as what’s going on around your home afterward.

“It’s one thing if there’s just a branch up on your roof and it’s small, but you need to consider that it could also be attached to something larger that is precariously situated and potentially fall on powerlines,” he says. “When in doubt, call a professional to come and take a look.”
Many cases of storm damage in our area — no matter the season — involve trees and limbs. Small branches are okay to remove safely in most situations. However, entire limbs and trees call for a professional inspection because they could be attached to something that can cause additional damage to your home or your person.

“Sometimes you’ll find roof penetrations from limbs and they’ll be small, an inch or so, but sometimes they can be three inches or larger,” Leffers says. “Depending on the situation, you may or may not want to get on the roof.”

PRIORITIZE EMERGENCIES

If your home is actively flooding or you have massive structural damage, get to a safe area and seek help immediately.

That may seem obvious, but an emergency includes any time your home has taken damage and preventative measures are needed to stop future damage.

“Restoration services like Paul Davis are a good resource after a storm. During our last major storm, we had more than 100 calls for service in the first half-day,” Leffers says. “We differentiate between emergencies. Is water currently flooding basements? Is there a hole in the roof and water is breaching the interior? Those are the things that we prioritize.”

If there’s flooding inside your home from storm damage, take extra care. Water in a flooded basement can reach your outlets, which can cause electrocution if you step in the water or an electrical fire if they short circuit. If your basement is actively flooding, call a plumber immediately to prevent further damage and avoid walking in the water.

Identifying emergency home damage is an area where a homeowner can help emergency workers and services like Paul Davis. A homeowner is the first set of eyes to make a determination on damage. If you’re unsure if the damage to your home constitutes an emergency, call a restoration company like Paul Davis for advice.

WORK FROM TOP TO BOTTOM

You’ll want to have a checklist and to keep notes on what damage, if any, your home has sustained. A good method to make sure you survey storm damage to your home thoroughly is to start at your roof and work your way down.

“Start with your roof and evaluate shingles, chimneys, and guttering systems. Because all of those can be affected by storms in our area, oftentimes they all are,” Leffers says. “Almost all of the water that ends up in your basement starts out on the roof, that’s why it’s important to check your guttering system.”

After the top of your roof, inspect your fascia and siding. Siding may get blown off during a storm and, while it’s not an emergency, it requires your attention to keep the underlayments from taking damage.

Once you’ve finished expecting your roof and siding, it’s time to check the base of your home for damage. Your foundation is the most important consideration for the structural integrity of a home, so if you notice any cracks or instability you need to get a professional involved.

Leffers recommends taking photos of your home prior to any storm damage happening to your home so that you know what your home looks like.

“People may not even know they have a cover or a bonnet over the top of their chimney and it gets blown off in a storm,” he says. “If you didn’t know that, you may not even realize you have damage — that’s very common.”

CONTACT PROFESSIONALS

If you identify damage of any kind, contact your insurance provider right away. You may not end up filing a claim, but it’s good practice to give your insurance provider notice.

“Your insurance company likes to know what’s going on,” Leffers says. “You’re letting them know that there may or may not be a claim, and they appreciate that. It helps get them prepared if they need to take action.”

If you do need to make a claim, your insurance provider can help you get in touch with professional services to make the claims process simpler.

Leffers says that it’s best to remain calm when you’re surveying storm damage to your home. Major storms can be high-stress situations, but oftentimes the damage to a home ends up being limited.

“In 29 years, I’ve seen a lot of storms and storm damage. It always looks way worse than it actually is,” he says. “You look at a house that might have been affected by a tornado and it may look devastated. But once you clean the brush out and strategically displace the debris, all of a sudden things look less bad. It’s not all that different from raking a yard that has a ton of leaves, it looks horrendous until you get started.”

HAVE STORM DAMAGE? PAUL DAVIS CAN HELP

If you need help surveying storm damage to your home safely, the professionals at Paul Davis Restoration of Northeast Indiana can help. We’re available 24/7, no matter when a storm strikes, to get your home in shape.

To speak with a restoration professional, call us at 260-436-7510.