Tag Archives: wind damage

Cleaning up after Cape Cod’s tornadoes

When you think of Cape Cod, Massachusetts what sort of weather dangers come to mind? Hurricanes and Nor’easters are common answers, but “tornado” isn’t common at all. Seeing the aftermath of this week’s high grade EF1s that impacted Yarmouth, Dennis, Harwich, Chatham and surrounding areas, that may change. Although Cape Cod wasn’t specifically prepared for the sudden impact of the rare weather event, the response of the towns and first responders was fantastic and thankfully no serious injuries have been reported.South Dennis, MA Tornado Weather 7/23/19

Once the storm had passed the sun came out for a moment allowing us a quick peek of blue sky. Although that tempted people to want to walk about and survey the aftereffects, local authorities urged everyone to stay inside. The hours after a natural disaster are the most crucial for restoration efforts. Immediate dangers need to be assessed, unsafe/impassible roads need to be blocked off and detour points need to be established, medial emergency responders need to be able to safely navigate the labyrinth of streets, utility emergency responders need the limited routes as clear as possible as they work to assess services, and as the tree blockades are found they need to be accessed quickly by fellers (because no one in need of an ambulance wants them stuck in a labyrinth of downed trees!). In addition to all that, downed wires are deadly and until they’ve been identified and secured it’s simply not safe.

Cape Cod Tornado Damage Willow Tree Uproots in Brewster, MAWith any natural disaster first you assess and secure, then clean-up and restore. Any serious wind event brings a surge of calls to professional restoration companies from property owners who’ve had trees fall on their home or business. The first thing to do is remove the tree from the structure. Once that is safely done and the tree is on the ground it’s important to immediately board-up any openings it created. After the property has been secured then it’s time to assess the interior damage.

When it comes to insurance coverage this is where things can vary significantly from owner to owner. The deductible on a policy is the portion you are personally responsible for paying out of pocket on a claim. Some policies have a special wind deductible that is different than the standard policy deductible (and often quite larger). If you have a wind deductible on your policy and the wind of the storm toppled a tree on your home then that’s the deductible you’ll be looking at paying with your claim. Other policies may narrow the criteria of the special deductible to hurricanes and named storms, not all wind events. An interesting exclusion we’ve run into on some calls is that although some insurance companies may include the cost to remove the tree from the structure in the claim, removing the tree from the property may not be included and then it’s up to the homeowner to get it chopped up and moved away (or stacked to season for cozy winter fires). These variables and this week’s storm are reasons why our monthly maintenance checklist schedule has you review the different deductibles of your policies with your agent at least once a year.

Cape Cod Tornado Wind downs Brewster Tree at Farm The support and acts of kindness seen and heard around the community have our hearts overflowing. Let’s keep that strength showing. If you see a first responder, thank them. If you’re still without power, be patient. Crews are still working around the clock to get you back up and running. A smile and snack will help them do that more than any complaint ever will. If you’ve offered a helping hand, even something as simple as checking in on your elderly or ill neighbors, thank you!

Have any questions about emergency board-up services or natural disaster response? Send us a message or give us a call! Sharing and supporting the #CapeStrong spirit? Show us on Facebook or Twitter! @whalenrestoration @whalenservices


Why We Are Still Talking About Hurricane Sandy

It was last fall that Hurricane Sandy battered the east coast, but we are still seeing pictures today of the damage inflicted and reading about Sandy Relief Fund donations. Pictures portray areas that have hardly been touched since the super storm hit. Community assistance and volunteers are still widely needed and funding is still an issue. Why are we still buzzing about Sandy? Thank Katrina.


Much of the hundreds of millions of federal dollars provided to the residents of Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina cannot be accounted for. Funds were provided for the homeowner’s to elevate their homes above floodwater threat levels with a deadline of 3 years to complete the elevation. Here we are years later seeing the level of homes unchanged. The mass search of receipts to prove where exactly the funds were spent is a headache of a mess. Trying to collect the funds back from non-compliant homeowners is going to be difficult if not near impossible.

By the time Hurricane Sandy devastated New Jersey, those with the power to grant the funds learned from what happened in Louisiana.  Planning to release the finds in installments was part of the process of avoiding the mess. This plan involves more support including but not limited to production management, inspections, confirmation of work completion, and then collection. Where more support is required, more funds are required to cover that support. More time is required for the communication between each support system. An estimated 26,000 homeowners will benefit from federal programs upon approval, but these limited funds are approved for specific repairs and it is necessary to ensure that they are used properly.

Even in some of the average covered losses I see within the year, this installment process is present. The urgency to repair after a widespread catastrophe cannot compare, but the steps on how to collect can. If the funds are approved and released upon an agreed scope of repairs, you would divide the services by the payments required to complete them. Once one percentage of the project is complete, application for the payment is submitted. The work is inspected to confirm completion, and then funds are released. In doing this, someone, contractor or homeowner, is covering the cost and then maybe being reimbursed by the insurance company. Although this is a longer process, it protects policy holders from the dangers of fraud. In a large catastrophe situation, it protects disaster relief depletion due to those who don’t intend to spend the small amount of available funds as instructed.

Of course, there are other reasons we are still seeing incomplete restorations. These are not limited to insufficient insurance coverage, funding, and property view debates. There were homeowner’s blindsided to find that their basic insurance didn’t cover flood loss. Neighbors are arguing about view obstruction from house elevation. Many owners have now come to find that they need to completely tear down their homes and rebuild from scratch.  Any unattended homes by now that still had water damage would be ridden with mold.

We also still get to witness the beauty within all the devastation. Even back after Hurricane Katrina hit, the growth in the presence of community is grand. With each large disaster, there are still thousands of people willing to help. Disaster relief committees learn from the last catastrophe to more effectively restore from the current. All the talk we still hear and pictures we still see about Hurricane Sandy are a great reminder that homeowners and renters not only need to learn from what happened, but also apply it. This 2013 hurricane season starts on a canvas perfect for another large storm. Plan ahead, review your coverage, and be aware of your risk.


For specifics on New Jersey’s recovery from Superstorm Sandy (also a great resource for victims) visit http://www.fema.gov/news-release/2013/07/15/new-jersey-recovery-superstorm-sandy-numbers

For great resources to plan and prepare for any disaster, visit: http://www.fema.gov/plan-prepare-mitigate