Three Tips for Hurricane Preparedness

Three Tips for Hurricane Preparedness
May 24, 2013 SNH Editorial Team

Water and wind caused the damage during our recent storms.  The good news is that there are preventative property management steps you can take today to significantly lessen storm damage on your property:

(1) Tree Management:

While one can never totally predict which trees will come down in a storm, good  tree management makes a difference.

Case in point:  Our CT property experienced zero tree damage from any of our huge, century old trees which swayed wildly ten feet from and around our house.  By contrast, unattended trees in a distant wetland area saw trees fall during Sandy and so did unmanaged trees on our neighbor’s property.

Prune your trees.  How do you prune tree for storm preparation?

(a) Think of tree canopies as giant sails.  Poke holes into a sails or prune your trees and create openings.  These openings allow wind to pass through and significantly lessen the pressure of the wind on trees.

But DO NOT over prune either (!) since trees need their leaves for food production. You want you “green giants” to be super healthy with lot’s of strength and flexibility.  This is work for a qualified arborist!

(b) Trees that lean toward your house should have limbs trimmed that face your house.  In other words, create less weight toward your house.

(2) Grading / Drainage:

Drainage is perhaps the most overlooked property management tool you have.   Spending money on underground, out of sight installations is no fun at all.

But think of drain lines as the arteries in your body: they are the hidden transport systems that make things flow smoothly.  You want a good, well-distributed system with good flow.  Just like blockages in your body, blockages in drain pipes lead to BIG problems.

Have your existing drainage lines cleaned.  Debris could have gotten into them, roots could have grown into them.  Call up a sewer and drain company to inspect (they send little cameras through the lines) and “vac out” your drain line – it is a must-do storm preparation.

Study your property during the next rain.  Where does water pond? Is there a pitch on your property? Be sure the grading of your land does not trap water and pitches water away from your house, other structures incl. your neighbors’ structures as well as away from trees.  Even minor regarding projects have big pay-offs during big rainstorms.

We all remember trees being taken down and their roots pulled out of the ground.  This does not have to happen. This occurs when water ponds and turns the soil into a soft sponge.  Tree roots no longer have nothing to anchor into.

Everyone can dig a ditch.  That’s what you want to do at the low spot on your property. It’s called a dry well. Fill it with crush stone and top it with filter fabric and finally soil.  No one will know it’s there but you and watch how your property will stay dry even in strong downpours.

(3) Generator:

Past storms have made clear just how much today’s lives depend on electric power.  A generator is no longer a luxury – it is essential for handling the many facets of life.  For people working from home it might be the only way to be productive in business and earn a paycheck.  For all of those reasons generators build real value in homes. It’s a smart investment!

Generators are expensive and take time to install! Permits and a variety of trades have to be pulled together to install generators.  This takes planning and it takes time. Installing a properly sized permanent generator will cost $15-25K depending on house size.

Less expensive temporary generators failed in Hurricane Sandy.  People stood in long gas lines to get gasoline from those gas stations that even had gas.

Get a generator for less than the cost of your monthly cable bill.  Give yourself creative financing solutions.  Banks are once again lending Helocs (Home Equity Lines of Credit) to homeowners who have equity in their homes.  Sheilah Smith, Lending Officer with People’s Bank offers the

Several options for a $10K Heloc:

–       Pay $29/mo. with a 3.5%  interest-only loan

–       Pay $106/mo for a fixed-rate 4.9% loan amortizing over 10 years

–       Pay $185/mo for a fixed-rate 4.9% loan spread over 5 years

Keep in mind prices jump when you go from an air-cooled to a liquid cooled generator.  Sizing electrical loads correctly is key.  Know what electrical components are essential for you to run and what might be optional.  Examples: While a washing machine might be optional to some, for a family with young children it may be indispensable.  Air-conditioning might be a nice-to-have for some, however, with elderly and young children in the house it might be important. And so on….

One final personal note:  While it is wonderful to have a generator during outages to run the house, the constant generator noise wears on you after about two days.  I recommend buying the quietest generator on the market!

We are likely going to have another powerful storm.  The only question is when and will you be prepared! Start today and give yourself peace of mind!