Note from Tess: As I write this blog post, my community (a suburb of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) is one of the lucky ones that skated through Hurricane Sandy’s wrath without much damage. The storm’s eye passed just south of us overnight, and while there was a lot of howling wind and rain whipping, we remained safely tucked away in our home. In fact, I joked that the only inconvenience we received during the storm was losing HDTV.
But many other communities weren’t so lucky. Lost electricity was common in our area, as were minor road closures from downed trees, power lines and flooding. Sump pumps failed and siding was torn from houses. Trees smashed into roofs and sewer systems were flooded.
During a natural disaster, contractors can play an important role in helping homeowners feel more comfortable about what’s happening outside – and to their home.
Here are five ideas you can use the next time a major weather system is projected to affect your community.
1. Define normal. I’ve talked about this topic before because my husband and I were once “first time home owners” too. Sometimes we just don’t know what’s normal during a huge weather maker, like Hurricane Sandy. Many first time homeowners are learning from trial and error, and they don’t want to panic (and look silly), yet they really don’t know if their home is supposed to creak and moan and make the noises it does. So help them by defining what’s normal – and what’s not – by answering questions like:
- Is it normal to have rain water pouring over the gutter system from the roof?
- Is it normal to have water marks seeping up from the cracks in the basement cement?
- Is it normal to have the sump pump kicking on every minute?
- Is it normal to see the curtains move every time there is a gust of wind?
I am sure there are plenty of other questions you can add to this list to help homeowners understand what’s normal … and what isn’t (and may need a professional called in).
2. Pre-storm preparation. Many homeowners simply don’t have the experience to know what they need to do around the home before a storm hits. You can play a role in their pre-storm preparedness by offering a pre-storm checklist.
Some items on the checklist can include exterior chores, such as cutting back tree limbs that may rub against the home and inspecting the grading around the home to make sure rain flows away from the foundation. You can also offer your expert opinion on how many flashlights to have on hand and how to know if you really need a generator.
3. Post-storm inspection. Once the storm has passed, the home needs to be inspected for damage. This is where “defining normal” is especially helpful. How can a homeowner tell if there has been damage to the roof? Or if the homeowner got water in the basement, how can they tell if their mechanical systems were damaged? Again, there is a whole list of tips you can provide to help homeowners in this fashion.
4. Be resourceful. If your community was hit by a storm, often the only means homeowners have of communicating to the outside world is their smartphone. Post phone numbers to utilities or other services that they may need on a regular basis on Facebook and Twitter – and ask others to share. That way if someone needs that information, they can easily get it.
5. Offer your services in a helpful – not sales-y way. Now is the time for contractors to move in and restore your community. Remind people of the services you provide in a helpful, not sales-y fashion. For instance, if you offer sump pump installation, after a huge rain event, now would be the perfect time to remind people of those services.
One of the best ways you can help your community during any weather event is to provide useful tips that they can use to stay safe and feel secure in their home. What do you do to help your community? Share your experience in the comments section below.
Photo by Canadian Pacific