Category Archives: storm prep

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.

Weathering the Storm: Stay Safe During a Hurricane

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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

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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/

Long Island Hurricane Deductibles

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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.

Be Prepared for Hurricane Season

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Well, hurricane season has arrived. While experts are predicting a mild storm season this year, it is best to be prepared. After all, even a comparatively mild storm can cause serious damage. Here are some tips to get you prepared for severe weather.

 

1. Get flood insurance.

Most basic homeowner insurance policies don’t cover flood damage.  Go over your  policy to make sure you are covered for flooding or water damage. If you need to purchase flood insurance visit https://www.floodsmart.gov/floodsmart/pages/faqs/how-can-i-get-flood-insurance.jsp

2. Have an evacuation plan for your family (and your pets!)

Evacuation orders are not made lightly and should be taken seriously.  Making arrangements with friends or family who live on higher ground can help you avoid staying in a shelter.  Some shelters started to allow pets, but space fills up quickly . Making arrangements beforehand ensures you and all members of your family will be safe during the storm.

3.  Make an emergency survival kit

Now you don’t have to prepare for all out Armageddon, but you should have enough tools and supplies to survive without electricity or utilities for up to two weeks. This site has a great checklist of things you may need.

https://www.uscg.mil/d7/airstaBorinquen/docs/HurricanePage/Suggested%20Hurricane%20Supply%20Kits%20.pdf

4.  Mitigate any damage that a flood could cause

Sometimes flooding is unavoidable. In cases like this you need to make sure the water does as little damage as possible. Make sure you have proper drainage and barriers to keep flood waters out.  If storm surge is expected make sure to keep rugs, boxes, anything that can get damaged by water off the lower floors.  If you live in a flood zone look into raising your house or taking other precautions to help mitigate the damage when a flood does hit.

Mold Remediation Specialist Gives Hurricane Tips

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According to our mold remediation specialist, June marks the start of hurricane season. Hurricane Sandy showed us that New York is not immune to the powerful storms. While wind damage can wreak havoc on power lines and trees, the real danger to Long Island homes is flooding.

If you live in a flood zone, make sure you carry the proper insurance for flood. Many homeowners find out much too late that they did not have the coverage for the massive and costly damage to their homes.

There isn’t much you can do once the flood waters hit. Once the water reaches the level of your floor and goes an inch above, you have significant damage. There are steps you can take to mitigate the damage done to your home.

 

  • Safeguard in-home electrical and climate systems

Raise switches, sockets, circuit breakers and wiring at least a foot above the expected flood level in your area.

 

Modify your furnace, water heater and any other anchored indoor equipment so that it sits above your property’s flood level.

 

Anchor and raise outdoor equipment

 

Fuel tanks, air-conditioning units and generators should be anchored and raised above your flood level.

Modify water valves

A flooded sewer system can cause sewage to back up into your home. Installing an interior or exterior backflow valve can help mitigate that.

 

 

  • Determine how water flows around your house

Called the grading or slope, the angle of the ground can direct water to or from your house.

It’s best if the home was built so that water drains away from the building.

 

  • Take Drastic Action

If your home floods frequently and moving isn’t an option, you may need to take drastic and costly measures.

Raise your home on piers or columns so that the lowest floor is above the flood level

“Wet-proof” your home by installing foundation vents that would allow water to flow through the building, instead of rising inside and causing more damage. You’d need at least two vents on different walls.

Do some “dry proofing” by applying coatings and other sealing materials to your walls to keep out floods.

  • Take last-minute measures as waters rise

Clear gutters, drains and downspouts.

Move furniture, rugs, electronics and other belongings to upper floors, or at least raise them off a ground floor.

Shut off electricity at the breaker panel.

Elevate major appliances onto concrete blocks if they’re potentially in harm’s way from flooding.

 

Insurance Guide to Winter Storm Damage

This was a pretty brutal winter, but what if you have damage caused by the weather? Will your home owner’s insurance cover it? Here is a great info graphic from Insurance.com. If you have any questions about weather related damage to your house, please give us a call!

 

Must-know guidelines for insurance coverage after a superstorm
Courtesy of: Insurance.com