Every spring and summer we Okies get reminded that we live in the path of some of the most destructive forces of nature on the planet. When severe weather and tornadoes affect those around us we are quick to help, as evidenced by the outpouring of support after the Moore tornadoes in May of 2013, but what can you do on your own if your house sustains damage?
What To Do If Your Home Has Sustained Damage
The first thing you’ll want to do if your home has sustained any tornado damage is to take pictures of everything. Your house and its contents, your yard, your vehicles – everything. You’ll need these pictures for insurance purposes. Then contact your insurance agent or broker immediately.
Now you should check your roof. If your roof sustained any damage at all, notify your insurance agent or broker of the damage. If temporary repairs are needed before the roofing company can get there, make sure only a physically able person gets on the roof. However, if the roof is sagging or you notice structural damage, whatever you do, don’t get on the roof – you’ll need to wait for the professionals.
As you find damage, you’ll need to cover any holes in the roof, walls and windows with boards and/or plastic tarps, plastic sheathing or trash bags if that’s all you have to keep the rain out.
After you’ve done your temporary repairs, you should call a roofing company right away. It’s best to schedule an appointment as soon as possible. If the entire area has sustained damage, you may have to wait a while until the roofer can get to you. That leads us to the next issue: scam artists.
Beware Of The Scam Artists That Come Out Of The Woodwork After A Disaster
There will always be a few bad people that o show up after just about every disaster. You’ll need to be aware of the possibility of scammers before you hire any roofers or contractors to repair your home. Here are some red flags that indicate you may be dealing with a scam artist.
- Beware of door-to-door solicitors who hand out flyers and make promises of a quick fix, to speed up the insurance process or an escalated building permit process.
- If a contractor asks for a very large deposit in advance or payment in full, they could be a scam artist.
- A contractor who claims to be certified by the State or FEMA could possibly be a scam artist. FEMA inspectors will visit the area after a disaster; however, they will have photo identification and they never charge for disaster assistance or for inspections.
- Never make your check payable to anyone other than the owner or the proper business name of the company.
Whenever possible, it’s best to use an established local contractor who has a good standing in the community – even if you have to wait a little longer for them to get to your project. Additionally, you should always get receipts for any repair payments you’ve made including any cash payments.
Be Prepared to Weather the Storm – and You’ll Rest Easy
The first call you’ll make after a tornado (as long as no one is injured) is to your insurance agent. The second call should be to any contractors you may need to get your home back into a livable condition.
Don’t forget to make a list of everything that was damaged in and around your home accompanied by a picture. But be very careful when entering damaged areas. If your house is too damaged to live in, you’ll need to get temporary housing. Just make sure to keep your receipts so the insurance company can reimburse you.
Be very diligent when it comes to selecting a roofer or any other contractor who will be working on your home and possibly around your family. A quick fix to save a little money now could end up costing you more in the long run.
Tornadoes can and do happen, but things will go a lot more smoothly if you’re prepared and know how to respond ahead of time. Put together a disaster plan, train your family on what to do in case of an emergency and stay calm. Our state prides itself on its neighborly, service-oriented citizens – so you’ll always have a place to turn.