Get Prepared for Mother Nature

BY RACHEL GRAF ON APRIL 28TH, 2017

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As this summer’s storm season approaches, be sure you have prepared your home to withstand the weather. Although there’s no stopping Mother Nature, simple home maintenance like pruning trees and cleaning drainage lines could help avoid damage when a storm hits.

Plants & Landscaping

Falling trees can cause significant damage to your home, so preventative landscaping is essential.

Think of tree canopies as sails, says Sabine Schoenberg, founder of home improvement site SabinesHome.com, Greenwich, Connecticut. The wind will catch the “sail” and could uproot the tree, so prune holes in the canopy to allow wind to pass through easily.

But beware of over-pruning, since trees depend on their leaves for food production.

Homeowners living along the coast should be conscientious about what they plant in addition to upkeep. Coastal homes are susceptible to erosion. Reduce the risk of storm damage from flooding and erosion by planting hearty shrubs and grasses that can act as a seawall, says Betsy Rickards, technical assistance writer at the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management, Boston.

These grasses have deep roots that will prevent the sediment from moving. The part of the plants aboveground will intercept the water, Rickards explains.

At a community level, if multiple homeowners create gardens with plants that absorb rainwater (known as “rain gardens”), it would reduce the damage from road flooding and other runoff.

Drainage Lines

Next, be sure to keep your drainage lines clean. Gutters should be cleaned twice a year, and since they’re so visible, most homeowners maintain them.

Instead, people tend to forget about underground drainage lines, Schoenberg says. If debris and blockages build up underground, you might not know about it until a major storm hits.

“Usually during normal rain events, the system works fine,” Schoenberg says. But when a big storm strikes, the system needs to work at 100 percent capacity. Much like a body’s arteries, “If you have a blockage, you have a major problem.”

Schoenberg recommends hiring someone to look at drainage lines every two to four years depending on the age of your house – more often if your home is older.

Power Outages

Finally, even if your home is as storm-ready as possible, downed power lines can cause a lot of trouble.

If you know a hurricane or major storm is coming, prepare for long-term power outages with an emergency kit. A standard emergency kit should include flashlights, a battery-powered radio or television, a landline phone with a cord, enough bottled water for one gallon per person per day, blankets, first-aid kits, non-perishable foods and a can opener, says Nicholas Morici, media relations manager at Delmarva Power, an energy company for Delaware and Maryland.

A generator is also useful during power outages, especially if you work from home. Even if you don’t live in a hurricane-prone area, a backup generator will add financial value to your property, Schoenberg says.

She recommends investing in a permanent, rather than portable, generator. Portable generators run on gas, which is often disrupted during the storm.

Don’t wait until a hurricane or other storm is days away to make these changes. As demand for landscapers and other home professionals increases, so do prices.

“Spend money early and get it done so you get really good pricing,” Schoenberg says. “You’ll have everything in place, so when the storm is coming, you’re in good shape.”

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