After the unseasonal tornadoes that devastated the Midwest this past December, the winter season continues to deliver unusual weather as spring approaches. For example, Winter Storm Oaklee swept across the United States during the tail end of February. Quarter-size and larger hailstones fell across the Dallas-Fort Worth Texas region. Snow, ice, and freezing rain was reported in Arizona, with snow touching down in North Scottsdale. Ice, rain, and hail fell in Southern California, with snow and sleet falling in some areas. Record-setting cold temperatures also hit San Francisco and the Bay Area with rain, snow, and hail—all unusual weather for that area. Earlier in February, Winter Storm Miles caused heavy snowfall from the Rockies through Illinois and Michigan, leading to interstate closures across the region due to icy road conditions, as well as flooding as far east as Buffalo, New York.
Intermittently, spring-like weather has punctuated these winter storms with mild temperatures. The weather pendulum, swinging from damaging winter storms and cold temperatures to wet and warmer conditions, can lead to property damage from hailstorms, flooding, and burst pipes from freezing temperatures. This month’s newsletter will provide information and recommendations on how to prepare your property to survive severe winter and spring weather, and what to do when property damage ensues.
For every kind of storm or severe weather, the most important tip is to know when and where to shelter people and animals on a property. Property can be repaired or replaced – people are priceless. For most storms, finding an interior room on the ground level or basement of a property is best. For storms that bring the risk of flooding, find shelter on an upper floor.
For Hailstorms, Tornadoes, Thunderstorms, and High Winds:
For Freezing Weather:
No matter the severe weather heading your way, there are several ways to prepare a commercial or residential property.
First, always document the current condition of your property for insurance purposes, prior to inclement weather. Documentation consists of photos and detailed written accounts. This can happen as often as necessary for a specific property, but quarterly updates to documentation is wise, at a minimum. Focus on the envelope of the building, especially details on the conditions of windows, doors, the roof, siding, and any ancillary structures.
Additionally, make sure to document the state of accessible pipes and surrounding areas in case of a burst pipe and subsequent water damage from the cold. Take photos of the foundations of the building to demonstrate that the foundation is level and that there are no significant cracks, signs of vermin intrusion, or other forms of damage. Similarly, document accessible interior basement or crawl spaces prior to storms or seasons where flooding is expected to demonstrate that the walls, floors, exposed pipes, and any windows or vents are free of leaks, standing water, mold or mildew, vermin intrusion, or other forms of damage.
Thorough pre-damage documentation can help maximize what your insurance will be willing to cover in repairs after a disaster. This documentation can also help property owners find problem-areas early on when proactive repairs are still possible, and significantly more affordable. For areas that might be difficult or dangerous to reach, such as upper-level siding and windows or a roof, hiring a trained and insured professional with proper safety equipment, such as a disaster recovery company or a contractor, to help with documentation may be advisable.
Once a storm has passed and damage has been done to your property, contact your insurance provider. They will give you the steps you need to take to fully satisfy your policy’s requirements for assessing and documenting the property damage. Contacting a disaster recovery firm to assist with documenting the damage in addition to repairing it can also be helpful. Selecting a disaster recovery firm in advance can help ensure your property receives swift attention when others are competing for the time and expertise of a disaster recovery firm.
The effects of severe weather can turn a small leak, crack, or other form of damage into a huge problem. Even when the damage is minimal, repairing it promptly will help keep costs manageable and your property in prime condition. It also ensures that you, as the building owner or property manger, get ahead in preparing for the next round of severe weather to minimize future damage.
With winter storms like oaklee and miles causing widespread damage in 2022 already, staying prepared and keeping your property in good condition is the best defense against the impacts of winter and spring storms.