Some seasons are rougher than others, but here in the Fond du Lac area, we’re always ready for a storm. Fortunately, we can essentially break storm preparation and management down into three simple steps: What to do before a storm, what to do during a storm, and what to do after a storm.
First: Don’t underestimate a storm. Whether it’s a tornado or a blizzard or a monsoon, maybe it’s rare that a storm is quite as bad as the most alarmist weather reporting is going to tell us, but there’s no telling when a mild storm is going to turn severe. As the old saying goes: Plan for the worst, hope for the best.
You probably know the drill by now. Canned food, bottled water, fresh batteries and bulbs for the flashlight, stock your first aid kit, install your storm windows, and have a backup plan for where you’re going to stay in case you need to evacuate.
It’s a good idea to read up on your insurance policy while you have a chance. You’ll want to find out what’s covered on your basic homeowner’s policy and where you need some additional protection.
For most storms, basic storm safety is simple. Stay indoors and away from windows. Keep the radio on or notifications on your phone enabled for evacuation alerts. Actual evacuations are pretty rare during all but the most severe storms, but “safety first.” Flooding isn’t our main concern in the Fond du Lac area, but it happens, and you never want to go walking or driving in floodwater.
Before you do anything else, make sure that any damages to your home don’t get worse. If you have a broken window, for instance, get your valuables away from that part of the house and maybe use a tarp to keep the rain out. Right now you can blame all the damages on the storm. If you let a bad situation get worse, that might be seen as negligence, and might not be covered by your insurance.
Call your insurer, have someone come out to appraise the damages, and get your claim filed. Do this BEFORE dealing with any contractors.
And always do your research on contractors. Storm chasers, fly-by-night con-artists, are known to swoop into Wisconsin neighborhoods following a storm promising to fix your roof at no charge to you, then they take the check from your insurer and skip town, or paste your roof up with a little crafting glue and call it a day.
General rules of thumb to avoid getting ripped off by scammers:
- Always call your insurer, first
- Don’t trust any contractor going door to door or cold-calling you
- Look for a big footprint, lots of online reviews, a website dating back more than a couple of days, a yellow pages listing
Storms are a pain in the neck, but they’re a problem that can be managed with a bit of planning, caution, and fast response.