It's official - hurricane season is here, and storms will soon start making their trek across the Atlantic Ocean to visit us. While some people are preparing themselves by stocking up on supplies and securing outdoor furniture when a storm is coming, others may not know what they need to do before a storm strikes! This article will give you some great tips to help you prepare yourself and your property.
Start Preparing Now
When a tropical storm or hurricane is forecast to approach the North Carolina coast, property owners need to stay updated on predictions from weather experts. Though things can change at any moment with these storms, meteorologists usually have a pretty good idea of where the storm will go and how strong it will be when it makes landfall.
Even if a storm isn't considered dangerous at first glance, it can still pack quite the punch – don't forget the massive flooding and destruction caused by Category 1 Hurricane Florence in 2018!
It's best to finalize your plans as the storm's path and strength become clearer. This includes making sure you have an evacuation plan in place, where you'll go if it is mandatory or otherwise ordered to leave your homes, and knowing the location of a designated hurricane shelter.
Additionally, having a list of what you need to take during an evacuation will speed up the time it takes to leave the house. And, don't forget, not every designated storm shelter is pet-friendly so if you're taking Fluffy, be sure she'll be allowed in the facility.
Whether you're a seasoned vet when it comes to hurricanes or you've never been through one, there are some things to remember when preparing for the storm.
- Take an inventory of your outdoor items like patio furniture, playground sets, trashcans, and anything else that might become airborne during high winds and turn into a missile headed straight for your neighbor's car. Be sure to secure whatever you think may blow away in strong winds or bring it inside if you can.
- Remove loose branches from trees and clear your gutters and downspouts. If your gutters are full of debris, when heavy rain and strong winds arrive, the water may not be able to drain properly, increasing the likelihood you'll experience some flooding on your property.
- Be sure all windows and doors are locked and secured. Everyone thinks "plywood on the windows!" when preparing for a hurricane, but that isn't always a good idea. If the plywood isn't installed correctly, it could become a projectile and damage nearby property or, even worse, hurt someone.
- Does your property currently have tenants? If so, providing them with regular communication is imperative during hurricanes. At Sweyer, we regularly send emails with updates on the storm, protocol on how post-storm issues will be handled, and some best practices for before, during, and after the storm.
- Do you know where your important documents are? If you don't, it's time to find them and have them handy to take with you should you evacuate. Though having physical copies of things isn't often needed these days, they are helpful when the power is out, and you need to get up with your insurance agent. Along the same lines, if you think there will be massive destruction resulting from the hurricane, take any irreplaceable items like family photos, birth certificates, and social security cards.
- If evacuating, pre-plan the route you’ll take and leave early! But, keep in mind, you’re not the only one heading out of town, so those main roads will be very crowded very quickly. Make sure you have plenty of gas and be prepared to have a little patience. While Wrightsville or Carolina Beach (or any island) may become a mandatory evacuation zone, required evacuation orders are rare. However, leaving for a storm is a personal choice and one that you must make based on what you think is best for your family and property.
- Have enough supplies to last several days. You should stock up on water, nonperishable food, flashlights, batteries, any needed medications, and even some cards or board games to keep everyone entertained until the power comes back on.
- Consider building a hurricane kit. Having your emergency supplies in one location will make that part of preparing much less stressful. You can find more information on what supplies to include here.
We all know how frustrating it is to deal with a storm, but if you have friends or family members affected by these dangerous weather events, make sure they're aware of what's going on. Check in frequently during and after the storm, so no one gets left behind!
Repairs & Insurance Coverage
Homeowners can save themselves from headaches during severe weather events by being prepared for them. Of course, property damage is always an unfortunate side effect when Mother Nature pays us an angry visit, but it doesn't have to ruin your day if you're ready at the onset!
Here are some things homeowners should keep in mind as a storm approaches:
- Unfortunately, many homeowners don’t realize they’re lacking proper insurance coverage until a hurricane hits. And no coverage means you'll be paying for repairs out of pocket. Make sure you're covered by talking with your insurance agent about what type of or additional policies are best suited for protecting the value of your investment property.
- Do you know where your insurance documents are? If not, go ahead and locate them so they'll be easy to grab when you need them. Even if you can access your policy online, it may help to have them in your hand while speaking to your agent in a hectic time.
- If your property is in a homeowners association, read the governing documents to determine what is covered by the association's policies and what you'll be responsible for.
- Preventative maintenance – Ensuring trees are trimmed, dead branches are removed, and gutters are free from debris can aid in giving your home a little more protection from rising water or falling limbs when a storm arrives.
August and Septembers are traditionally the most active months in the Atlantic Hurricane Season. But that doesn't mean you won't see a storm in June or July; we've seen many arrive early in the season. Preparing yourself and your properties ahead of time will not only relieve some stress but also aid in minimizing storm-related damages.
Our Extreme Weather Website
Did you know that Sweyer Property Management has an Extreme Weather Website? When the storm track is looking to make landfall in the Wilmington area, our team begins updating that site daily so our property owners and tenants can stay in the loop about what will happen before, during, and after a hurricane. We also update the site about when hurricane-force winds are expected to arrive, any changes to the hurricane's projected path, and when our office will be closing. And, when we are forced to close, our team is fully equipped to work remotely so they can get a jump start on handling repairs and inspecting properties once the storm passes.
In addition, the site provides links to the Red Cross, FEMA, and North Carolina emergency alert and disaster recovery websites.
Stay safe and stay informed!
Sweyer Property Management is a full-service professional property management company specializing in all aspects of rental management. If you're an investor or property owner looking to learn more about our services and what a professional property manager can do for you, reach out to us today at 910.239.1338 or via our website. Sweyer Property Management has exhibited continuous growth throughout the Wilmington, Leland, and Hampstead areas while maintaining an excellent Google+ rating for customer service.