STERLING, VAAlthough Hurricane Michael has become Tropical Storm Michael, it's still dangerous enough for Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam to have declared a state of emergency amid reports of potential flash flooding. And given the havoc the storm's hurricane version wreaked long after making landfall Wednesday along Florida's panhandle, Northern Virginia residents no doubt are taking notice.
As it is, the National Weather Service's local bureau in Sterling predicts sporadic heavy rain for much of Thursday night, along with possible wind gusts of nearly 40 mph. Too, there's a flash flood watch, and travel could be especially dicey in the Fredericksburg area.
Apropos of Michael and its inland fury, which took many residents of Florida and Georgia by surprise, here are a few things to consider about what to do when affected by a hurricane or a similar violent storm. Although we were spared much of the wrath from the recent Hurricane Florence, preparation is paramount.
AAA and the Virginia State Corporation Commission have issued a number of tips that, in the event of property damage, could make rebuilding much easier.
"Now is the time to prepare for the potential impact of Hurricane Florence," said John B. Townsend II, manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic on Monday. "The best way to prepare is to prepare for the worst case scenario with enough essential supplies for at least three days and an emergency communications plan that has been practiced with every member of the household."
Areas hundreds of miles from the coast can experience flooding and other damage caused by hurricanes' high winds and torrential rains, the The Virginia State Corporation Commission warns. Even minor floods can cause extensive damage to homes and belongings.
The commission recommends taking certain steps to protect the home, even if it's damaged by the storm. Here's how:
AAA also recommends precautionary measures for homeowners and renters, including preparing an emergency kit with batteries, water and non-perishable food.
If you're traveling through the path of the storm, AAA recommends following a list of recommendations.
While making sure your home is covered for storm damage is important, keeping yourself and your family safe during a storm is more important.
The following emergency supplies should always be kept on hand:
An emergency evacuation plan should be in place for every member of the household. Identify the nearest storm shelter, and suggest a meeting point should family members get separated.
There are some basic things you can do to protect your home from storm damage. Install storm shutters or cover windows to prevent window breakage. Check for loose siding on your home and secure it if necessary. If you need to evacuate, turn off all your utilities and disconnect any electrical item in your home. Water and electricity don't mix, so any device left connected is a potential fire hazard.
Virginia Natural Gas also recommends taking a few further steps toward protecting your home from serious damage to electrical and gas service. Before the storm arrives, gas and electrical customers should prepare the home to make evacuation easy.
After the Storm, photograph and document the damage. With storm damage to your home you will need to file a claim with your insurance company do so as soon as possible. The earlier you file a home insurance claim, the faster it will be processed. Also, you may be required to file your claim within a certain time frame, so don't delay. Incomplete or inaccurate information can result in a delayed claim, so make sure you have all necessary paperwork in-hand when contacting your home insurance company.
You may need to make minor repairs to storm damage that will prevent further damage to your home, like fixing broken windows or make temporary repairs to protect your property if possible. For permanent storm damage repairs, wait until your insurance company has examined the property. If you have storm damaged property, do not throw it away until the claims adjuster inspects it.
If the temporary repairs are made prior to a claims adjuster inspecting your home, be sure to save your receipts and keep a record of all of your temporary repair expenses.If possible, move your property to protect it from further damage. If you are unable to move large belongings, try to protect them from the elements using a tarp or plastic.
More information is available on the Virginia State Corporation Commission website.