Recent Storm Damage Posts
Power Outage Tips
Weather-related power outages are a fact of life in North Alabama. Fortunately, most utility departments are able to respond quickly and return power as soon as possible.
Here are some tips to help you get through a power outage.
To Help Preserve your Food During a Power Outage
Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. First use perishable food from the refrigerator. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed. A refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours if the door is kept closed. Keep the door closed as much as possible. Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and leftovers) that have been above 40 °F for over 2 hours.
Protecting Electrical Equipment During a Power Outage
Turn off and unplug all unnecessary electrical equipment, including sensitive electronics. Turn off or disconnect equipment or electronics you were using when the power went out. When power comes back on, surges or spikes can damage equipment. Leave one light turned on so you’ll know when the power comes back on. Turn all other light switches off.
Don’t forget about Carbon Monoxide, Be Careful!
Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside a home, garage or any partially enclosed area. Locate unit away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
It’s always good to be prepared in the event that the power goes out. Your emergency kit should include items such as flashlights, flameless candles, matches, canned foods, water, granola bars, etc.
Types of Storm Damage
Here in the Florence/Muscle Shoals area, we can suffer from many types of storm damage. Some of those are wind damage, flood damage, and hail damage. Here are a few quick tips to consider should storm damage hit your home or commercial property.
Wind Damage Restoration
Storms often cause severe wind damage. Your roof is particularly susceptible. Roof damage from strong winds may lift roof shingles, cause cracks, or remove part or all of the roof. Harsh winds and rains can shear away asphalt tiles. Flying debris can also cause cracks and holes in your roof and siding. Correcting roof damage may challenge homeowners and business owners after a disaster, especially because a roof leak may not be obvious.
Why are many roof leaks and roof damage hard to detect? The storm may loosen flashing without creating a problem that’s easily visible to the eye. Loose flashing can cause another roof leak even weeks after the initial storm damage. A small roof leak can produce damp, moldy conditions inside your home or business. You best bet is to secure roof repair immediately after the wind damage. Doing so can prevent long term interior damage.
Flood Damage & Recovery
If your home or business is near water or in a low-lying area, flood water damage is a risk. Heavy rains and flooding may cause water damage many miles from the coast or from any large body of water. If the land around your home or business cannot absorb the additional water flooding may happen. Even homes and businesses at higher elevations can sustain flood damage if frozen pipes break. Flood pump failures contribute to basement flooding and contaminated ground water in some locations, too.
Flooding may also disrupt your municipal water system. Experts need to assess ground water and evaluate the condition of pipes following flood damage. Hiring a storm restoration firm, like SERVPRO of the Quad Cities may allow you to begin your cleanup process even before water restoration occurs.
By relying upon a trained water damage restoration specialist, you'll usually obtain faster storm remediation. These experts may suggest ways to help mitigate flood water damage in the future, for instance, by requesting backup flood pump installation.
Hail Damage & Recovery
Hail may be the most overlooked cause of major storm damage. Hail can damage not just your roof but also your siding, exterior walls, and any detached sheds or outbuildings. You may think you’ve survived a hail storm but do know that hail damage is difficult to identify. Again, you’re wise to hire a storm damage restoration professional to inspect your roof, exterior walls, and outbuildings for damage. Dark spots on your roof are areas where the roofing granules have been knocked away. These weakened spots can lead to other more extensive problems such as leaks and cracks. Cracked and chipped siding is also a sign of hail damage.
Impact Damage & Recovery
In a major storm practically anything can become a creator of damage to your home or business. Think about trees. Your home may survive storm damage only to have a tree on your property succumb to the wind, hail, or rain and fall onto your house. A neighbor’s outdoor lawn furniture can become wind-blown projectiles. Extreme wind pressure turns regular outdoor items into tools of destruction.
Are you aware that during a hail storm more than just your vehicles are potentially vulnerable to damage and future repairs? When hail hits, it can damage the roof or covering of your home as well as other personal property. Although hailstorms can be destructive, the amount of damage can vary greatly. Following are some factors that affect the type and degree of damage that may be impacted by a hailstorm, as well as a guide on how to identify hail damage to different types of shingles and roofing materials.
- Wind – During a hailstorm, wind direction and wind speed can vary. Changes in wind conditions can affect the location and severity of hail impacts.
- Size and density – The size of the hailstones can affect the degree of damage, if any, to your property. A hailstone can be as small as a pea, or as large as a softball. Most hailstones do not have smooth edges, which can impact the type of damage they cause.
- Building materials – Building materials absorb hail impacts differently. For example, hail can cause dings in aluminum siding, gutters or asphalt shingles, whereas it can crack vinyl siding or wood shakes. Alternatively, softball-sized hailstones can be dense enough and strong enough to puncture a roof. Additionally, the age and condition of a roof could affect the degree of damage.
- Barriers– The position of neighboring structures and natural barriers, like tree cover, landscaping, fences or adjacent homes can reduce the ability of hail to cause damage.
There are many other types of damage to shingles that can be mistaken for hail damage. For example, exposure to inclement weather and sunlight makes shingles brittle and gives them an aged appearance. This type of damage is normal wear and tear of shingles, which is sometimes misidentified as hail damage. Other types of normal wear and tear may include blistering, cracking, granule loss, flaking and algae. Manufacturing defects and mechanical imperfections in shingles can also be mistaken for hail damage.
If you believe your home has sustained damage from hail, call your agent or insurance representative to discuss possible next steps.
How to Donate & Volunteer to Help Hurricane Florence Victims
When disaster strikes, people come together to help. To make the most of your contributions, consider these tips from FEMA for donating and volunteering responsibly:
How to Donate Successfully:
1. Provide a financial contribution to a voluntary organization involved in disaster activities.
2. Find out what services state government is providing via Website or state donations hotline.
3. Do not begin collecting, packing or shipping until or unless you have a known recipient to accept it.
How to Volunteer Successfully:
1. Get training before the next disaster.
2. Connect and affiliate with a voluntary organization.
3. Consider volunteering for the long-term community recovery.
4. Check with your local Volunteer Center for volunteer opportunities in your own community ( 1-800-Volunteer).
5. Plan to be as self-sufficient as possible (go to www.ready.gov for assistance in developing your plan).
For more information, click here.
Hurricane Florence Stats & How You Can Help
Our Key Accounts Manager, Bubba Roby, spoke with WAFF 48 News about storm cleanup for Hurricane Florence.
Hurricane Florence is likely to cause significant flooding and wind destruction in the Carolinas and Virginia. There is also high risk of inland flooding in NC, SC and VA due to Hurricane Florence slowly moving through the weekend. Over 3 feet of rain is possible in some locations.
In addition to the 90 local Franchises in the Hurricane Florence affected areas, SERVPRO also has a national network of over 1,700 Franchises across the country. Franchises like ours are preparing to send crews to help with cleanup efforts. Our sister franchises in Huntsville, SERVPRO of South Madison County and SERVPRO of North Madison County, are also sending crews. Here are some facts that show the power of this monster of a hurricane:
- The tropical storm-force winds stretch more than 335 miles, which is far enough to reach from New York to nearly Toronto.
- The hurricane-force winds extend 80 miles from the center of the storm and cover more than 15,000 square miles, an area larger than Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island combined.
- The size of the hurricane-force winds has doubled over the past 48 hours despite the top wind speed weakening from 130 mph to 105 mph.
- Rainfall could reach 40 inches in isolated locations of coastal North Carolina. For comparison, Washington, D.C., averages 40 inches of rain in an entire year.
- Wilmington, North Carolina, has already had its rainiest year to date and could get eight months' worth of rain in the next three days. The rainfall would shatter all-time records for the region.
As the rest of the country watches the East Coast prep for Hurricane Florence, you may be wondering if there's anything you can do to help. Volunteer fire departments in the Shoals are collecting donations for hurricane victims. Donations can be dropped off at the Lexington VFD or the Nitrate City VFD. You can also make a donation.
You Can Help By Making a Donation Today!
The American Red Cross is working around the clock along the East Coast to help the thousands of people whose lives have been affected by Hurricane Florence.
Click HERE to make a donation.
Scattered Afternoon Thunderstorms
Hot and humid with scattered afternoon thunderstorms - another summer day in Alabama.
Scattered afternoon thunderstorms are a common way of life here in North Alabama during the summer months. If you had a dollar for every time you've heard that phrase on the weather forecast, you could retire early and quite comfortably.
Here are some facts about thunderstorms you can use to impress your friends, co-workers, or kids.
- The typical thunderstorm is 15 miles in diameter and lasts an average of 30 minutes.
- Nearly 1,800 thunderstorms are happening at any moment around the world. That's 16 million a year!
- Every thunderstorm produces lightning, which kills more people each year than tornadoes.
- You can estimate how many miles away a storm is by counting the number of seconds between the flash of lightning and the clap of thunder. Divide the number of seconds by five to get the distance in miles.
- The lightning is seen before the thunder is heard because light travels faster than sound.
- Most thunderstorms form between 2:00 and 10:00 p.m.
- A severe thunderstorm has winds at least 58 miles per hour or hail at least three-fourths of an inchin diameter.
- The Gulf Coast averages between 100 and 110 days per year with thunder reported, which eastern and northwest Alabama have 70 to 80 thunderstorm days per year.
- Occasionally, thunderstorms are severe with frequent lightning and large hail – the central and northern parts of Alabama are most vulnerable to this type of storm and are especially prone to tornadoes.
- Alabama ranks seventh in the number of deaths from lightning and ninth in the number of deaths from lightning strikes per capita.
Check out this previous blog post for safety tips and follow us on Twitter for more facts and tips.
Frozen Sprinkler Pipes
Every winter thousands of sprinkler pipes freeze and burst because of lack heat or inadequate insulation.
We received over 100 calls from customers with frozen and busted pipes earlier this month. Several area businesses had water damage when the lines in their fire protection sprinklers frozen and burst. Our crews provided water damage restoration services for a restaurant in Sheffield, a dentist/oral surgery center in Sheffield and a nonprofit organization in Tuscumbia after the sprinkler pipes froze and burst.
When water freezes, it expands up to 10 percent in volume. Sprinkler pipes tend to freeze before other water pipes because the water is not moving. When a frozen sprinkler pipe bursts, the result is always extensive water damage. Where the pipe bursts and the time it takes to shut off the water will influence the amount of water damage to the property.
If your business has experienced water damage because of frozen sprinkler pipes, this is the first indication that you need additional freeze protection to prevent this from happening again. The following points will help reduce the risk of frozen sprinkler pipes.
- Maintain heat in all buildings and units
- Require an annual service and maintenance contract on all fire sprinkler systems
- Provide additional insulation for pipes in unheated areas such as attics
- Install water flow alarms to alert occupants that water is flowing in the sprinkler system
- Install freeze alarms to warn of potential freezing conditions before the pipes freeze
Additional information on freeze protection is available through the National Fire Protection Association (www. nfpa.org).
Put A Quarter In Your Freezer
Power outages are common during a storm, which means the electricity in a freezer is not keeping the food cold. It can be difficult to determine if a power outage occurred if you were not present during the storm. One away to determine whether the food in your freezer needs thrown out is by using a quarter or other coin. Freeze a cup of water before evacuating your home and put a quarter on top of the frozen water. If the quarter is sunk to the bottom of the cup after the storm, you should dispose all food stored in the freezer. The quarter sinking to the bottom means the food in the freezer has defrosted and it should be thrown out. This is a great method to determine if your food went bad in your home.
Fun Things To Do In A Power Outage
Here in the Tennessee Valley, storms often lead to power outages. Here are some activity ideas for fun things to do in a power outage.
- Create shadow puppets on the wall using a flashlight
- Draw pictures in the dark and then laugh at your creations once the lights come back on
- Pack some new books into your activity kit and then have a story time with flashlights
- If the power goes out during the day, enjoy the fresh air with some outdoor play
- Create pictures or secret messages using glow in the dark paint pens
- Play a board game, card game or complete a puzzle (if it’s dark, you’ll have to play by a flashlight)
- Write a letter to a friend or family member that lives far away
- Pack a portable radio, batteries and glow sticks for a glow in the dark dance party
- Pack some old pictures and scrapbook supplies and create some new pages for your scrapbook
- Have a puppet show. No puppets? No problem! Find printable online or DIY ones to make with your family.
- Create cards like thank you cards, birthday cards or get well soon cards that you can use later
- Have a fun ice cream sundae party – because you don’t want that ice cream to melt in the freezer!
- Have a picnic with flashlights, juice boxes and granola bars
- Play with Play-Doh
- Host a tea party for your family and favorite stuffed animals
- Have a silly photo shoot using wigs and old Halloween costumes
- Play hide & seek with flashlights
- Play with bubbles outside. Find DIY instructions online to make your own bubbles with dish soap!
Don’t forget to repack your kit after each use so that it’s ready again for your next power outage or rainy day!
Also, don't forget that Florence Utilities now has real-time updates of any power outages in Florence, Killen, Rogersville and the rest of their services area.
Thunderstorm Safety In Northwest Alabama
Thunderstorms occur throughout the year in the Shoals area. They are most common in the summer, but most severe in the spring and fall, when destructive winds and tornadoes occasionally occur.
If thunderstorm and lightning are occurring in your area, you should:
- Use your battery-operated NOAA Weather Radio for updates from local officials.
- Avoid contact with corded phones and devices including those plugged into electric for recharging. You can use cordless and wireless phones not connected to wall outlets.
- Don’t go near electrical equipment or cords. Unplug appliances and other electrical items such as computers. Turn off air conditioners. Power surges from lightning can cause serious damage.
- Stay away from the plumbing. Don’t wash your hands, take a shower, wash dishes or do the laundry. Plumbing and bathroom fixtures can conduct electricity.
- Stay away from windows and doors. Stay off porches.
- Do not lie on concrete floors. Don’t lean against concrete walls.
- Avoid natural lightning rods such as a tall, isolated tree in an open area.
- Try to stay away from hilltops, open fields, the beach or a boat on the water.
- Take shelter in a sturdy building. Avoid isolated sheds or other small structures in open areas.
- Don’t touch anything metal—tractors, farm equipment, motorcycles, golf carts, golf clubs and bicycles.
- If you are driving, try to safely exit the roadway and park. Stay in the vehicle and turn on the emergency flashers until the heavy rain ends. Try not to touch metal or other surfaces that conduct electricity in and outside the vehicle.
What Happens If Your Neighbor's Tree Falls on Your House?
Straight-line winds are common during a thunderstorm and can cause considerable damage, even in the absence of a tornado.
Yes, windstorm damage is covered on a standard homeowner's insurance policy. But whose homeowner's insurance policy covers the loss?
First, it is important to understand what windstorm insurance policies cover. Windstorm insurance is a special type of property and casualty insurance designed to cover damages caused by high winds. Windstorm insurance may cover damages from hurricane-force winds, tornadoes, hail and other weather events that are accompanied by wind gusts that exceed 35 miles per hour.
A hypothetical tree falls on your house.
- Scenario 1: Your tree falls on your house. Your homeowner's policy will provide coverage up to your policy limits, after you pay the deductible. The coverage extends to cover damage to your main home, garage, shed or other additional buildings and structures such as a fence. If there is damage to the structure of the house, debris removal is also covered, up to policy limits.
- Scenario 2: Your tree falls on your neighbor's house. The basic rule is that the insurance policy of the property that was damaged pays for the loss.
- Scenario 3: Your neighbor's tree fell on your house. Your homeowner's insurance policy should pay for any damage per the property claim.
- Scenario 4: A tree falls on your car. The comprehensive coverage of the vehicle owner’s auto policy will apply. As in the examples above, generally the owner of the tree is not responsible.
Please note that homeowners insurance usually won't cover a loss caused by negligence or a maintenance-related issue. So if the tree was rotting and ready to fall down before the storm, homeowners insurance likely would not cover the damage the tree caused to your home.
When Storms or Floods hit Muscle Shoals, SERVPRO is ready!
Our highly trained crews are ready to respond 24/7 to storm or flood damage in Muscle Shoals.
SERVPRO of the Quad Cities specializes in storm and flood damage restoration. Our crews are highly trained and we use specialized equipment to restore your property to its pre-storm condition.
Since we are locally owned and operated, we are able to respond quicker with the right resources, which is extremely important. A fast response lessens the damage, limits further damage, and reduces the restoration cost.
Resources to Handle Floods and Storms
When storms hit Muscle Shoals, we can scale our resources to handle a large storm or flooding disaster. We can access equipment and personnel from a network of 1,650 Franchises across the country and elite Disaster Recovery Teams that are strategically located throughout the United States.
Have Storm or Flood Damage? Call Us Today 256-383-4470
Flood Damages and Flood Insurance In North Alabama
In North Alabama we know how drastic the weather can be and how suddenly it can change. Also, for the cities like Florence and Muscle Shoals have properties that are near the Tennessee River putting the homes and businesses in jeopardy of flooding. It is important to know the terms associated with flooding and what kind of coverage you have on your home.
- Flood Watch: Flooding is possible.
- Flash Flood Watch: Flash flooding is possible. Be prepared to move to higher ground.
- Flood Warning: Flooding is occurring or will occur soon; if advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
- Flash Flood Warning: A flash flood is occurring; seek higher ground immediately.
Knowing About Flood Insurance:
- Regular homeowners insurance does not cover flood water damages and when purchased from you insurance company is ran through the National Flood Insurance Program.
- If there is sewage back up caused by a flood then it would be only be covered by flood insurance.
- Upon the purchase of flood insurance there is a 30 Day waiting period before the insurance kicks in, so it is important to plan ahead.
- Find out if you are in a flood plain. If you are not you want to calculate the risk of not having flood insurance.