Storm Aftermath: Steps to Safely Restore Your Property
Residential Property Management

Storm Aftermath: Steps to Safely Restore Your Property

As summer approaches, it often brings with it the threat of severe weather conditions such as thunderstorms, which can result in flooding, tree damage, and other serious repercussions for properties. Each year, there are inevitably storms that leave property owners and tenants facing the daunting task of cleaning up and restoring their environment.

Dealing with the aftermath of a storm is no small task. It typically involves more than just clearing away fallen branches. In situations where storms have caused extensive damage to trees and significant landscape features, there could be potential risks to both the property owner and the tenant.

Before diving headfirst into the cleanup, it's crucial to develop a systematic approach. Engage with your tenants and dissuade them from attempting to handle any potentially hazardous clean-up activities themselves.

It's important to exercise caution if you're considering carrying out any restoration tasks on your own. A landscape affected by a storm can present various hazards. In cases where there are fallen power lines or tangled cables, always reach out to your utility providers. Moreover, if the damage is extensive, consider employing the services of a landscaping professional. Although a tree might seem stable, if it has been affected by the storm, it can be potentially dangerous.

Guidelines for Safe Restoration Post-Storm

Here are a few tips to guide you through the process:

1. Recognize Potential Risks Prior to Cleanup

Begin by addressing any obstructions to access points such as houses, cars, garages, etc. Pinpoint potential hazards such as unstable trees or dangling branches. Ensure the storm has entirely passed before you initiate the cleanup.

2. Be Careful When Cutting or Removing Trees

This may seem straightforward, but remember, trees can be incredibly heavy and often appear lighter than they actually are. Their weight can suddenly shift during the process of cutting or moving, leading to potential injuries.

3. Examine Remaining Trees

Trees that appear to have weathered the storm might still be damaged. Conduct a thorough inspection, or hire a professional to ascertain if there has been any damage.

4. Prune Smaller Trees and Shrubs Impacted by the Storm

Identify if the affected plant can be salvaged or if it needs to be removed. Each plant has a unique recovery process, and some may not survive the inflicted damage.

5. Check the Landscape for Drainage Problems

Intense storms often result in heavy rainfall, which can cause significant changes to your landscape and possibly alter the drainage system. Soil erosion could also be an issue. Observe if any mulch has been washed away.

6. Approach Standing Water Cautiously

Avoid going near standing water if there are any downed wires or potential sources of electric shock nearby.

7. Protect Yourself 

 Standing water resulting from heavy rain or flooding can pose health risks, especially in severe situations when the house has been inundated. Floodwater may contain fecal material from overflowing sewage systems, agricultural waste, and industrial pollutants. The CDC advises wearing protective clothing and gloves during cleanup. If you have any open cuts or wounds that could be exposed to floodwater, maintain their cleanliness by washing with soap and applying an antibiotic ointment to prevent infection.

8. Document Damage for Insurance Purposes

Before starting the cleanup, document the extent of the damage. Take photographs and videos of the impacted areas. This can be crucial for any insurance claims you may need to make. Contact your insurance provider as soon as possible to report the damage.

9. Secure Damaged Property

To prevent further damage or potential theft, secure your property as best as you can. This might involve boarding up broken windows or holes in walls, tarping damaged roofs, or moving undamaged property to safe locations.

10. Consider Long-Term Landscape Planning

Severe storms can sometimes reveal vulnerabilities in your landscape design. If you noticed certain areas were especially prone to damage, consider consulting with a landscape professional about potential changes. This could include removing old, unstable trees or altering the grading to improve drainage.

11. Ensure Regular Maintenance

Regular maintenance can help mitigate some damage from future storms. This includes trimming tree branches that hang over the property, clearing gutters and downspouts, and ensuring any hardscape elements are in good condition and secure.

Conclusion: While the cleanup may initially seem overwhelming, with a comprehensive and well-structured plan, you'll be able to restore your yard to its original state before you know it.

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