Here’s what do if a tree (or anything else) damages your home during Hurricane Florence:
1. Immediately secure yourself and your family
This may seem like a no-brainer, but in the heat of the moment, it’s easy to prioritize a gaping hole in your home over a raging storm outside. Think about what may have been damaged — any gas or electrical lines? — and take the necessary steps to shut off utilities. If possible, block off areas that received damage as soon as possible, and move to a more secure area of the home.
2. Call for help
During the storm, and after it passes, 911 operators will likely be inundated with phone calls, said Jennifer Timmons, spokeswoman for the Columbia Police Department. But it’s still worth a shot. Keep your local non-emergency line handy — it’s a good back-up if 911 is busy, Timmons said.
3. Contact insurance company
Contact your home insurance company after the storm passes. In most cases, tree removal is already covered. But there’s a huge difference between a tree that is dead or alive, said Dylan Copeland, an associate agent with a Midlands insurance company. A living tree that falls and damages property is considered “an act of God,” Copeland said, while a dead tree that falls and damages property is considered negligence. So it’s best to spend some time taking care of dead or overgrown trees on your property ahead of time.
4. Make plans for repairs
After contacting insurance and filing a claim, the next step is to fix the damage. The insurance agency may have preferred contractors it works with regularly. But if you’re looking to do business with someone else, work that out with the insurance agent. Most agencies will accept, Copeland said.