Preventing Flooding And Cleaning Up Storm Damage

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Howard Schwartz of the Connecticut Better Business Bureau talks about what property owners can do to prevent flooding, and if a storm happens, what you need to know about hiring contractors to help clean up the damage.

Below is a press release on the topic from the Connecticut Better Business Bureau. Visit www.ct.bbb.org for more information.

“One year after Superstorm Sandy ravaged the east coast, Connecticut Better Business Bureau offers a checklist to prepare for flood and wind damage.

Not all of the effects of flooding are immediately visible and over the long term, may threaten your health and property.  The first, obvious signs are pooled water, damage to furnishings, walls, ceilings and floors.  However, once those are dealt with, water that seeps into attics, walls and basements can cause mold and create structural damage, such as rotting.

Water can enter foundation cracks, windows and through the roof, and unfortunately, a visual inspection is not sufficient to identify hidden damage.  While bleaching moldy surfaces can help, BBB recommends consulting flood remediation experts to check for leaks and hidden dampness, as well as check electrical systems, vents, heating and air conditioning systems before you turn them back on.

Better Business Bureau offers a checklist for dealing with storm-related damage, including not only flooding, but also missing shingles, downed trees and damage to windows and siding:

Call your insurance company – Check your policy to see the extent of coverage and any exclusions, as well as claim requirements, and whether you will be reimbursed for temporary lodging and urgent, out-of-pocket expenses.

Take photos and document damage – Photos taken after a storm can provide clues to what kind of hidden damage might exist.

Don’t do business at your front door – “Storm-chasers” often go knocking on doors offering to remove downed trees and perform property inspections and repairs.  Some may be unlicensed, uninsured and unqualified.

Obtain several bids – You can learn a lot from different contractors, as well as compare prices.  While word of mouth recommendations are helpful, always verify licensing with the State of Connecticut website, www.elicense.ct.gov.  Look for qualified experts and check other consumers’ experiences and complaints at www.ct.bbb.org.

Act promptly to minimize damage – Each insurance contract requires the policyholder to mitigate damages.  Some examples include turning-off the water, moving contents (things inside your house) to a safe place and covering a damaged roof with a tarp if it can be done safely.

Don’t be frightened into signing a contract – Unscrupulous operators use fear tactics and emotions to rush consumers into signing a contract.  Get details of the inspection or repairs in writing, as well as all verbal representations.  Make sure you understand all terms, conditions and warranties, and proceed carefully before signing a contract.  Never pay more than one third of the total cost as a deposit before work begins.

Don’t be surprised if the insurance check is issued to both you and the lender that holds your mortgage.  Your contractor may require you to sign a statement acknowledging that the mortgage lien attaches to the insurance check.  This is a common practice since Hurricane Katrina and helps to ensure the insurance check is used to restore the property.”

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