A little event recently reminded us why living in the West is not always a blessing: Nearly two hours of bruising, bouncing hail, combined with heavy rain and flooding. A few tornadoes, as well.
During the long shoveling/mopping up process afterwards, several things came to mind. Hopefully, you may never have to deal with storms like this. But the truth is: probably you will. In that case:
Preventive measures help during the storm. Put some towels at the door, to help keep out moisture. (Washing a few towels is no big deal. Washing furniture, rugs, etc. is.) Draw the curtains, so they can help protect the glass, to some degree. (And keep it from shattering in on you. One girl I knew had a window break all over her, right in a middle of an afternoon nap.) Keep your animals inside; if you’re gone, provide somewhere they can go to get out of the storm. (Doggy doors work wonders.)
Mop and clean up as quickly as you can, after it’s all over. Your floors and furniture will benefit from quick blotting and mopping. (Shop vacs, with their ability to suck up water as well as stuff, are invaluable for this.) Hose down your garden and plants – it will help melt the hail, and minimize damage, especially to hot-weather plants like tomatoes and peppers.
Have homeowner’s insurance. A parade of signs up and down our street are announcing that we’re not the only ones who will need to replace our roof. One neighbor had their family room ceiling cave in…another was hit by a baseball-sized chunk of hail in the windshield. While they were driving. (Thankfully, they’re ok.)
Don’t pooh-pooh renter’s insurance, either, if you rent, instead of own. The hail here came very, very close to shattering our windows. If it had, there would have been no way to protect our possessions from the rain.
Plan on an additional deductible for any hail damage. With our company (Liberty Mutual), it’s an additional $300.(Yet another reminder that an emergency fund, however small, helps a lot.)
Hopefully you do have insurance – and the claim’s been approved. In that case:
Use a contractor whose credentials you’ve checked. Do they have a good reputation? Ask for references. Do not use them, just because somebody showed up your door, and it’s convenient to hire them. Some of these are fly-by-night scammers, who take a deposit for work…then disappear.
Plan for the future. How did your insurance handle the blow — do you need to beef it up some? What about emergency supplies – did you have enough flashlights, lanterns, snacks, water, etc. if your home lost power? (Cell phones, by the way, make a great emergency light if you’re caught somewhere.) Replenish your cleanup supplies now, so you’re ready for anything.
And finally – don’t take it personally. These things happen. The plants, at least most of them, will grow again. (You can always replant, too.) Homes can be repaired. Possessions can be replaced. You and your family are ok. And that, honestly, is what really counts.
Cindy Brick is a personal property appraiser, judge and national teacher who loves to write about frugality and other personal finance topics. She has written six books and hundreds of articles, but often focuses on quilting, her teaching specialty. She lives in Colorado with her husband, two golden labs and a flock of very suspicious chickens. Find out more at Brickworks, http://www.cindybrick.com, or visit her personal blog: http://www.cindybrick.blogspot.com