Category Archives: storm damage

Be Prepared for a Hurricane

hurricane

With three hurricanes barreling up the Atlantic right now, one can’t help being reminded of the devastation a hurricane can bring. Sandy was just a few short years ago and many parts of Long Island are still recovering. While still not as common for New York than lets say Florida, major storms like hurricanes pose a dangerous threat to Islanders. It is important we know how to keep ourselves safe during a storm. Preparedness is the key to surviving during a storm.

Here is can help you plan ahead so you never have to face a storm unprepared.

 

Check your insurance coverage

Regular homeowners insurance does not cover floods. Flood insurance mandates have changed since Sandy.  Make sure your policy reflects the current state of your home and is up to date with payments. Also check your deductible so you know how much you will be on the hook for after flood and storm damage. Remember it goes off the price of your home, someone with a $400k home with a 5% deductible could be responsible for $20,000 of damage before their insurance will kick in.

 

Do a home inventory

Document the contents of your home with a video camera or through itemized lists to help with filing insurance claims later. Keep receipts for valuable items and consider separate coverage for these things. A tip to keep irreplaceable items like photographs or important paperwork that you can’t take with you is to put them in your dishwasher during the storm. Dishwashers are usually water tight and are less likely to get damaged in flood waters. It’s not 100% fool proof, but it is worth the effort to try. (Just don’t forget to take those items out before you start your dishwasher!)

 

Protect Your Property :

  • While some of the devastating effects of nature can’t be avoided, there are some things you can do to your home to mitigate the damage caused by the heavy winds and rains of a hurricane.
  • Install hurricane shutters or keep ¾ inch outdoor plywood boards for each window. If using boards, be sure to install anchors and pre-drill holes so you can put them up quickly.
  • Install head and foot bolts on doors for extra protection.
  • Hurricane straps or clips to help hold the roof to the walls of your home.
  • Also, be sure to keep up with your landscaping; diseased and damaged tree limbs can become serious hazards in high-speed storm winds.

Create a Disaster Supply Kit

A 2-week supply of water and ready-to-eat, non-perishable food for every family member and pet. The rule of thumb for water is 1 gallon per day, per person. With water shortages common before a storm, filling up freezer bags with filtered tap water and putting them in the freezer before the storm hits will benefit you in two ways 1) it will help keep frozen food cold if there is a power outage 2) it will provide safe drinking water after the storm. Fill the bathtub up with water to keep your toilet in working order.

Other things to include in your disaster kit are:

  • Manual can opener
  • Essential medicines including eyeglasses and contact lenses
  • Personal hygiene items such as toilet paper, toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Change of clothing
  • Paper towels, hand sanitizer, and eating utensils
  • First-aid kit
  • Battery-powered flashlight and radio with extra batteries
  • Blankets, pillows and sleeping bags
  • Mosquito repellant and citronella candles
  • Plastic tarp for roof/window repairs and tools
  • Special items for infant, elderly or disabled family members

 

Have an established evacuation plan

Every family should have an evacuation plan and a backup. If you don’t have transportation of your own, make arrangements now with friends or family members and don’t forget about the pets! If you are planning to evacuate with your pets remember pet friendly shelters and hotels fill up quickly, better to be safe than sorry and book early.

 

Keep your disaster kit and personal documents at the ready to leave at a moments notice.

Some important documents to keep on you during a disaster are.

  • Driver’s license or personal ID
  • Social security card
  • Proof of residence (deed, lease or utility bills)
  • Insurance policies (home, auto, flood, wind)
  • Birth and marriage certificates
  • Stocks, bond and other negotiable certificates
  • Wills, deeds, and copies of recent tax returns
  • Personal checkbook and any unpaid bills

Don’t take silly risks like running back into a home that’s been destroyed or refuse to evacuate when you’ve been ordered to, just to salvage material possessions. Things can be replaced, but people cannot.

Prevent Flooding During A Hurricane

flooding

While flooding can occur at any time of year, hurricane season on Long Island poses a particular threat of flooding around the coast.

Flooding and flash flooding are leading causes of weather-related fatalities in the United States, according to the National Weather Service. Floods are also the most common weather-related cause of property damage in the nation.  Understanding your flood risk and taking proper mitigating steps can help prevent a disaster in your home.

 

Look For Your Home on the Flood Map

A flood map (sometimes referred to as a floodplain map or FEMA flood map) can be used to identify floodplain locations and flood zones. The best place to start is by finding out what flood zone, from high to low risk, your property is in. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) works with each municipality to create and update flood maps that show the flood zone for each part of the community.

 

Check Your Flood Insurance

Most homeowner’s insurance policies do not protect against flooding. If you are in an area with increased flood risk make sure you have extra protection against floods.

 

Flood-Proof Your Home

Here are some steps to keep flood damage at a minimum if water ends up getting into your home.

Raise Electrical System Components—Raising electrical system components above the anticipated flood level will help prevent damage to the electrical system and avoid the potential for fire from short circuits in flooded systems. Electric switches, sockets, circuit breakers, and wiring should be raised to at least 12 inches above the base flood elevation (BFE) for your area. You can find out your property’s BFE by contacting your local building department.

Raise or Floodproof HVAC Equipment—Protect your HVAC equipment by moving it to an upper floor or build a flood-proof wall around the equipment.

Direct Water Away From Building—Make sure your yard slopes away from your home directing water away from the building.

Anchor Fuel Tanks—Unanchored fuel tanks can cause damage in a flood. The supply line to an unanchored tank in your basement can tear free and fuel can contaminate your basement. Make sure fuel tanks are properly secured.

Sump Pumps—Make sure your sump pump is working properly and battery is fully charged.

Ice Dams

ice-dam-prevention-and-removal-tips

When the cold weather hits our homes often take the brunt of the damage. From freezing pipes to winter storm damage, there are lots of things a homeowner needs to worry about when it comes to preventing damage in the winter and ice dams are one of them.

Ice dams happen after a heavy snow. The warm air from the top of the house heats the outside roof surface to the point that snow melts. When roof snow is melted by a warm attic space, it runs down and freezes again when it gets past the exterior wall and hits a cold unheated roof edge or gutter. The ice dam grows as the process repeats itself and the ice dam becomes larger.

Ice dams can create damage to not only your roof and gutters, they can cause interior damage as well. Water from the melting snow and ice can find their way under shingles and behind exterior walls. In some cases, if the right temperature and humidity exist, mold may begin to grow in the attic or top floor of your house. Often paint will peel or blister weeks or months after the ice dam had melted as moisture from the leak in the wall or ceiling cavities tries to leave and pushes outward.

 

How do you battle an ice damming situation?

  • Use A Roof Rake

This took allows you to remove at least the first 4 feet of snow from the roofs edge to help prevent damage

 

  • Apply calcium chloride or an ice melt to the ice dam

Be careful if you choose this method as you will most likely need to utilize a ladder which is not recommended in cold and icy conditions.

 

  • Professional Ice Dam Removal

There are professional companies available that are insured and will remove your ice dam using professional equipment such as high pressure steam. This approach may cost a few hundred dollars but the prevention of damage to your home may be significant.

If you are experiencing water damage due to an ice damming situation, give us a call. We offer expert services in water damage remediation and provide free estimates. Feel free to learn more about us and the services we provide by logging onto 631-467-6600

Weathering the Storm: Stay Safe During a Hurricane

hurricane1

As another hurricane barrels up the coastline it is important to remember hurricane safety.

If a hurricane watch or warning is issued it generally means that the storm will hit within thirty-six hours. During a watch or a warning you should take precautions to secure property, stock up on supplies and go over your emergency evacuation plans. Here are some steps and precautions you should take before any major storm.

 

Before the Storm

  • Have a disaster plan in place. Have a place your family can go in case you need to evacuate.
  • Don’t forget your pets! Before a storm threatens, contact your veterinarian or local humane society for information on preparing your pets for an emergency. Look up shelters that accept pets. Make sure you have paper work and pet carriers all ready to go.
  • Board or tape up your windows.
  • Bring in outdoor objects that could blow away.
  • Know where all the evacuation routes are.
  • Prepare a disaster supplies kit for your home and car. Have enough food and water for at least 3 days. Include a first aid kit, canned food and a can opener, bottled water, battery-operated radio, flashlight, protective clothing and written instructions on how to turn off electricity, gas, and water.
  • Have a radio handy with plenty of batteries, so you can listen to storm advisories when the power goes out. Don’t rely on cell phone service!
  • Have some cash handy. Following a hurricane, banks and ATMs may be temporarily closed.
  • Make sure your car is filled with gas.

 

During the Storm

  • Always stay indoors during a hurricane, because strong winds will blow things around.
  • Stay away from windows.
  • Have some board games and other activities that don’t require electricity on hand to keep occupied during the storm.
  • Leave mobile homes and to go to a shelter.
  • If your home isn’t on higher ground, go to a shelter.
  • If emergency managers say to evacuate, then do so immediately.

 

After the Storm.

 

  • Stay indoors until it is safe to come out.
  • Check for injured or trapped people, without putting yourself in danger.
  • Watch out for flooding which can happen after a hurricane.
  • Do not attempt to drive in flooding water.
  • Stay away from standing water. It may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.
  • Don’t drink tap water until officials say its safe to do so.
  • If there is damage to your home, contact your insurance company.

Branch is now officially a Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise

Branch is proud to announce that we have met the qualifications for The Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise (M/WBE) Certification Program. The program’s goal strengthen diversity in the state.

Branch Services is committed to providing opportunities to all Long Islanders who are committed to the fire, flood and mold restoration business. We are proud of our hardworking staff and owners who have decades of experience behind them and look forward to continuing to serve the community for years to come.

branchmwbecert

Hurricane Insurance and other Hurricane Safety Tips

hurricane

We are in the middle of Hurricane season. While it doesn’t happen too often, New York sometimes gets hit with a major storm that causes serious destruction. Because super storms are so rare, we are often caught unprepared for such disasters like Irene or Sandy. So how does one prepare for a hurricane?

These 6 tips can help you plan ahead so you never have to face a storm unprepared.

  1. Check your insurance coverage

Flood insurance mandates have changed since Sandy.  Make sure your policy reflects the current state of your home. Consider adding flood insurance and coverage for additional living expenses in case your home is uninhabitable after a storm.

  1. Do a home inventory

A home inventory can save you time and make filing a claim easier, ensuring you don’t forget anything. Document the contents of your home with a video camera or other home inventory tool. Keep receipts for valuable items and consider separate coverage for these things.

  1. Protect Your Property :
  • Install hurricane shutters or keep ¾ inch outdoor plywood boards for each window. If using boards, be sure to install anchors and pre-drill holes so you can put them up quickly.
  • Head and foot bolts on doors for extra protection.
  • Hurricane straps or clips to help hold the roof to the walls of your home.
  • A safe room that can withstand high winds and flying debris.
  • Also, be sure to keep up with your landscaping; diseased and damaged tree limbs can become serious hazards in high-speed storm winds.
  1. Create a Disaster Supply Kit
  • A 2-week supply of water and ready-to-eat, non-perishable food for every family member and pet.  (If you evacuate, you’ll want a 3-day supply of the same. )
  • Manual can opener
  • Essential medicines including eyeglasses and contact lenses
  • Personal hygiene items such as toilet paper, toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Change of clothing
  • Paper towels, hand sanitizer, and eating utensils
  • First-aid kit
  • Battery-powered flashlight and radio with extra batteries
  • Blankets, pillows and sleeping bags
  • Mosquito repellant and citronella candles
  • 2 coolers—one for food, one for ice
  • Plastic tarp for roof/window repairs and tools
  • Special items for infant, elderly or disabled family members

 

  1. Have an established evacuation plan

Every family should have an evacuation plan and a backup. If you don’t have transportation of your own, make arrangements now with friends or family members and don’t forget about the pets! If you have any family members, friends or neighbors with disabilities ask them about their evacuation plan.You want to make sure the whole family is covered, so identify an out-of-state contact that everyone will call if separated and establish a meeting location at least 50 miles inland.

 

  1. Keep important papers with you
  • Driver’s license or personal ID
  • Social security card
  • Proof of residence (deed, lease or utility bills)
  • Insurance policies (home, auto, flood, wind)
  • Birth and marriage certificates
  • Stocks, bond and other negotiable certificates
  • Wills, deeds, and copies of recent tax returns
  • Personal checkbook and any unpaid bills
  1. Don’t take silly risks like running back into a home that’s been destroyed or refuse to evacuate when you’ve been ordered to, just to salvage material possessions. Things can be replaced, but people cannot.

 

Are you required to carry flood insurance?

Over the last 50 years flooding has been on the rise. Increasing precipitation combined with more waterfront property being built creates a perfect storm for flood damage.

Many insurance policies don’t cover flooding, even floods that occur through nature. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has identified communities that are at risk for flooding, FEMA has assigned a character from the alphabet to each zone. The zone your home is located in will indicate the risk of flooding and which type of flood insurance you are required to carry

Here is a basic break down of the FEMA Flood Map Zones

V Zones

V Zones are properties that are beach front. They pose the biggest risk for damage from floods as rising tides and waves can sometimes wash entire houses away. Anyone in a V zone is required to carry comprehensive flood insurance.

A Zones

A zones – the next most volatile of the Special Flood Hazard Areas – are subject to rising waters and are usually near a lake, river, stream or other body of water. Flood insurance is mandatory in all A zones because of the high potential of flooding.  There are a number of sub-divisions of A zones you should make sure you understand the particular risks and recommendations for the one your house resides in.

X Zones

X Zones are minimal-risk areas where flood insurance is not mandatory, but a good idea as water damage can come from many sources.

D Zones

D zones are areas that have not been studied, but where flooding is possible.

  • How to find out what flood zone you are in?

Check with the local government agency to see flood zone maps for your area. Most counties and towns have flood zone maps available for public view. FEMA provides copies of the latest and most up-to-date flood zone maps for most communities.

Compare your home location to the flood zone map boundaries to see if you’re in a flood zone. Some flood zones are considered a greater risk than others. The maps will give you details about which type of flood zone insurance you may need, depending on the risk to your property.

Catch us at the Long Island Commercial Real Estate Expo!

licree

Next Wednesday (3/16) Branch Services will be exhibiting at the Long Island Commercial Real Estate Expo

“The Long Island Commercial Real Estate Expo is the event dedicated to improving economic activity on Long Island through the commercial real estate industry. The show is for Long Island and is produced by Long Islanders. It offers unique programs featuring business leaders discussing issues that affect the business climate.”

You can visit their Website here

http://www.longislandrealestateexpo.com/

Tips to Passing A Home Inspection

HomeInspection

Selling a home is stressful enough. Even if you find a buyer, homeowners can be blindsided by problems uncovered by an inspection. Before you sell , make sure these common home inspection issues don’t put a wrench in selling your home.

1. Faulty wiring. Worn or outdated systems and jerry rigged additions are the most common defects, especially in older homes. Any major issues with electrical systems must be addressed immediately.

2. Roof problems. Roofs can be expensive to be repaired/replaced.  An old, damaged roof can also mean water problems and entirely new headaches.

3. Heating/cooling system defects. Improper installations, inadequate maintenance and aged components are common.

4. Plumbing issues. The most common defects are leaking, outdated systems. Repairs can often be made, but on occasion total system replacement is the only solution.

5. Inadequate insulation and ventilation in attic. Poor insulation and poor ventilation cause excessive utility costs.

6. Whole house is poorly maintained. When a house is left to fall into disrepair, it represents a potential high cost situation to bring the home back into good condition. If the homeowner did not properly care for the home, someone will need to later.

7. Poor drainage. If there are drainage issues, water damage isn’t far behind.  Make sure drainage issues are taken care of. Roof gutters and downspouts can sometimes be added to rectify site drainage problems.

8. Cracks in walls & windows. If air can get in, so can water. Water damage leads to costly repairs in the future.

9. Minor structural damage. Cut and broken trusses are often seen in attic cavities and on occasion we also see structural components missing. Usually repairs are needed, however we find it is rarely an imminent safety hazard.

10. Mold. Signs of mold growth can kill a contract. Homebuyers should consider a complete environmental evaluation of the property before buying.

Long Island Hurricane Deductibles

hurricane1

Homeowners who experience their first hurricane are frequently awestruck by the unharnessed power of Mother Nature. Unfortunately, once the storm passes, they’re often blindsided by the special — and costly — hurricane insurance deductible they didn’t know was buried in their homeowners policy.

How hurricane deductibles work

Unlike most deductibles which has a set dollar rate, hurricane deductible is based on a percentage of your home’s total value. The out-of-pocket cost can be much higher than what you’d face with the dollar-amount deductibles commonly used for fire damage and theft.

If the home you insured for $300,000 has a 5 percent hurricane deductible, you would be responsible for the first $15,000 in hurricane damage as defined by the policy. With a standard, non-hurricane deductible, you might pay just the first $500 of a home insurance claim out of your own pocket.

In some states, homeowners may be able to get a dollar-amount hurricane deductible by agreeing to pay a higher premium, though in high-risk shore areas the percentage deductibles may be unavoidable.

How Hurricane is defined.

You should be aware of the trigger, or benchmark for what qualifies as a hurricane for your policy. For some policies for example, you won’t have to worry about your policy’s hurricane deductible unless the weather service has determined that a Category 1 hurricane has made landfall. You should ask your insurance agent about the trigger for your deductible.

Beware of “Windstorm Deductable”

Even when a hurricane deductible does not apply, homeowners can still find themselves on the hook for hefty out-of-pocket costs.  Some homeowners are subject to a similar percentage-based “windstorm deductible,” which applies regardless of any hurricane declaration.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing

These kind of percentage deductibles helps keep insurance costs down over all by bringing costs of premiums down in high risk areas.