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Weather the Storm

 Superstorm Sandy and, before that, Hurricane Katrina were just two of many dramatic reminders that millions of us are vulnerable to destructive storms that cause injuries, deaths, and property damage on a scale that is often hard to comprehend. But even a comparatively minor storm that doesn\’t dominate the headlines can wreak havoc with those unfortunate enough to be in its path. Here are some tips for preparing yourself and your family for dealing with a damaging storm and its aftermath.

Stock Up

  • The moment when you are in the crosshairs of an approaching storm is no time to be scurrying around town for necessities. While the skies are still clear, here are some things you should do:
  • Put together an emergency kit, with such items as a whistle, dust masks, flashlights (with batteries), drinking water, basic first aid items, and any needed medications
  • Fuel up your vehicles and a gas generator (and a chainsaw, if you have one)
  • Recharge your cell phones
  • Keep at least a three-day supply of nonperishable foods
  • Make sure fire extinguishers have adequate pressure
  • Inform your local utility and fire department if someone in your home uses special medical equipment (your power could get restored sooner
  • Get a battery-powered or hand-cranked radio for getting information during a weather emergency
  • Keep some cash on hand

Batten Down the Hatches
To secure your property and valuables as best as time and other circumstances allow, shut all windows, blinds, shades, and drapes an, over the longer run, consider installing impact-resistant windows or hurricane shutters. To keep them from becoming projectiles, move indoors all outdoor objects that are vulnerable to high winds. Park cars on the highest ground available, but not under trees, and move valuable personal property and important documents to higher floors if flooding is possible.

When the Storm Hits
During a severe storm, stay in a centrally located room in your house that doesn’t have windows. If flooding or even significant wetness is an issue, don’t use devices you need to plug in, and avoid using landline phones. Skip baths and showers until the storm has passed. Be on the lookout for downed power lines and live wires. And as you hunker down, be glad if you took steps to stock up and otherwise prepare for the storm.

The Aftermath
With luck, you and your family can come through a major storm relatively unscathed. But there are some adverse consequences of storms that are not as obvious as flattened or completely flooded homes but that will still need immediate attention. Check for mold in your home and remediate it as soon as possible, getting professional help if the mold is widespread. Run one or more dehumidifiers to dry out the house. If high water reached your furnace or boiler, before turning it back on have a professional check it out for water damage. Likewise, if at any point your vehicles looked like boats on a pond, get them inspected before you try to crank them up.

When the time comes to submit insurance claims for damage to your property, for availability and costs of your future coverage it makes sense to submit one larger claim rather than a series of smaller claims. Having photos of your property before and after the storm damage can also facilitate a successful outcome for your insurance claims.

Actual resolution of legal issues depends upon many factors, including variations of facts and state laws. This post is not intended to provide legal advice on specific subjects, but rather to provide insight into legal developments and issues. The reader should always consult with legal counsel before taking action on matters covered by this post.