From Richardson to Sioux counties and Dixon to Dundy, Nebraska weather serves up a little bit of everything, and it can change in an instant. Even as I write this, we are working through a day when we woke up to three inches of snow and finished the afternoon sweating in the sunshine, no snow in sight. If you live in Nebraska, it is important that you are always prepared for severe weather, too, as we are subject to intense storms during a significant part of the year. Severe storms strike quickly, and thunderstorms produce heavy rain, strong winds, lightning, hail, flooding, and tornados. If you talk to a meteorologist in Nebraska, they will likely tell you to follow the Boy Scouts creed: Be Prepared.
While tornados can occur at any time of the year, they are most prevalent in Nebraska during spring and early summer. Most tornados in the state occur in the afternoon or early evening, as these dry lines head east. All thunderstorms can produce violently rotating columns of air that can reach the ground, but tornados usually develop within supercells. Although there is virtually nothing we can do to effect a change in severe weather patterns in Nebraska, what we can do is educate ourselves about our options in preparation for and response to such events. That way, when a storm hits, you know who to call straightaway!
Know Your Insurance!
One of the biggest problems for residents is being certain about what their insurance covers and what it does not. Matt Moorhead of Shelter Insurance (shelterinsurance.com) offers various products to protect you and your family from the ravages of Nebraska’s severe weather, including homeowners, auto, motorcycle, inland marine, business owners, crop, farm, and flood insurance. Matt can walk you through the coverages available and help you determine what is most important for you, your property, and your possessions, to be sure that you are covered when severe weather strikes.
“Homeowner coverage is meant to be comprehensive, but there are always exclusions to certain perils and special limits on certain kinds of property, Matt said. “Most policies can fill these holes for additional cost. The better your agent knows you and your situation, the better he or she can put together the best products and coverages that are unique to you and your family.”
With insurance policies personalized and in placed, you are better prepared to respond to a severe weather event. Start by contacting your insurance agent to report the damage. Once you have turned in the claim, you as a consumer will have a little work to do, including contacting companies to complete the repairs on your home or other possessions. This is when things can get a little overwhelming for some people.
“Every serve weather event brings in dozens of fly-by-night companies offering up their service to complete your repairs,” Matt warned. “These companies have a tendency of promising the moon but follow-through is suspect at best. I always suggest using an established local company for the best results. At Shelter, we give the customers up to 24 months to complete repairs, so there should be ample time to get a good local professional to complete your work within that timeframe.”
If you are not properly insured when severe weather causes damage, you may not be able to keep your home in good repair, and repair needs can multiply as quickly as the weather can change. Replacing lost items and repairing damage to your home without proper insurance can be extremely expensive. Your problems are compounded when your insurance is canceled due to leaving your home in disrepair, and it becomes extremely difficult to get a new policy in place. Then the next storm hits… You get the picture.
“Shelter Insurance has a local claims office here in Lincoln,” Matt said. “Even when we call in back-up help for catastrophes, we use all Shelter-trained and employed claims adjustors. We do not subcontract out work to independent adjustors. We have local agents that have the knowledge to take you through the process.”
When storms hit in Nebraska, they very often involve water damage, which can be devastating to homes and businesses. It’s crucial that you have a reputable company to help you repair and recover from the damage. 1-800-WATER-DAMAGE (formerly Delta Restoration) is a great place to start.
“Our industry is weather-driven,” said Owner Jeff Carstens. “What we provide are emergency services for when you have any water damage, storm, wind, hail, sewage backup, and the like. When strong weather events hit, we go into action quickly, and the calls just keep coming. When we get a lot of rain quickly, we see lots of flooding into basements. We still have broken dishwasher lines, toilet overflows, and sewage backups, but we deal with rain immediately and get people dried back out. If there’s an emergency, we’ve got you covered!”
If you get water in your home or business, Jeff advises, shut the main water off as quickly as possible. If it is from a storm, go out and reinforce that water is flowing away from your house, that your sump pump is working, and try to contain the damage as much as you can. But if it’s coming down behind the walls or through the floors, get ahold of 1-800-WATER-DAMAGE (1800waterdamage.com/lincoln) as quickly as possible to limit the amount of damage that occurs.
“Moisture can enter your home in large amounts that affect everything,” Jeff said. “Damage can spread, and contents, walls, ceilings, trim, and flooring can be ruined if not acted on immediately. Solid wood, carpet, and stone usually are salvageable, but the rest generally will have to be torn out and redone if action is delayed. If you don’t take precautions—or if you notice water and don’t do anything—your price tag can change from a couple thousand dollars to $30,000 in claims quickly.”
Repairing Your Home
Severe wind and weather in Nebraska are also famous for demolishing or damaging roofs, pulling siding off the side of homes and businesses, and more. That’s where HomeShield Roofing & Exteriors (homeshieldroofingandexteriors.com) comes in. They are available to inspect damage on your roof after a storm and provide you with a free, full exterior, professional storm-damage assessment for your insurance agent prior to you filing a claim—to ensure that it is the best route to take.
“But we take that one step further,” said Kristina Hill, who owns HomeShield Roofing & Exteriors with her husband “We understand that storms don’t just impact your roof but your entire home. Our storm-damage assessment includes a full exterior inspection with photo documentation that we provide to you for your records. We also keep these photos in our records so they can be referenced or supplied to the insurance company during the claim filing process. We will meet with your insurance company’s adjuster when they come out to inspect the property, walk through the inspection with them, and make sure every issue of damage has been addressed and captured. And if your home doesn’t qualify for an insurance claim, we can reference those photos at your next inspection down the road and compare the two.”
HomeShield Roofing & Exteriors also takes the weight of the claims process off of your shoulders. They walk customers through the entire insurance process—from the claims side—from filing to completion. HomeShield has experience working with virtually every insurance company and uses the same estimating software that the insurance companies use to help create clearer communication for everyone involved. The kind folks at HomeShield will work with you and your insurance company to ensure that your home is brought back to pre-storm condition!
When it comes to the Boy Scout creed, HomeShield offers some advice to help promote the best possible outcome from severe weather damage to your property and buildings.
“We suggest having your home or property looked at every 24 months to ensure that everything is functioning as it should be,” Kristina said. “You want to be sure your home is able to withstand the Nebraska storm season, prior to the storm season starting. We also suggest looking into installing the Class 4, impact-rated shingles (often referred to as “IR” shingles) on your home or property. IR shingles are designed to help minimize roof damage during a severe weather event and can potentially extend the life of your roof.”
Your roof is the home’s first line of defense against the elements, and that’s why any form of damage should never go ignored. Ignoring the damage can create more costly issues down the road ranging from leaks, interior damage & mold issues. As a homeowner, it is your responsibility to maintain your roof and to make any repairs or file a claim as soon as you see the damage. Failing to address the issues as they occur could lead to your next claim being denied.
Handle with Care
When you hire someone to work on your home or business after a storm, you want to know that they will treat you and your property fairly and with the respect you deserve in already-stressful situations. Attic Energy Efficiency (facebook.com/atticenergyefficiency) will do just that.
“I treat every client’s home like it is my own,” said Owner Rex Schroder. “I provide a free Attic Ventilation Analysis on every roof, and I upgrade roof ventilation at no additional cost to the homeowner. I am an attic insulation and ventilation expert who achieves above and beyond the code results after a storm—and any time, for that matter.”
By not keeping your roof, attic, and gutters maintained properly year-round, Rex said, you run the risk of getting leaks, which can translate to major expenses you could otherwise forego. In a similar vein, if you hire one of many out-of-state “storm chasers” who show up right after damaging storms, you run the risk of both getting ripped off and getting sub-par or no repair work completed.
“I adhere to a high standard of integrity and honesty and will never sell anything to a customer that I does not absolutely believe they need,” Rex said. “We guarantee to fix your home correctly and do it right the first time, no matter how small or big the job!”
All in the Family
Another fabulous option for roofing and exterior repairs following severe weather in the Lincoln area is a highly respected local company, Neemann & Sons (neemannandsons.com). They have been replacing and repairing damaged roofs, windows, gutters, and siding for 40 years. Locally known as being honest, hardworking, and reliable, this team of dedicated professionals ensures that each customer gets a personalized solution to their roofing needs. As a family-owned and -operated business, Neemann & Sons takes enormous pride in their work and guarantees their customers’ satisfaction every time. They recognize your home is personal and deserves a personal touch—and when it comes to repairing your home after a storm, it’s important to know exactly who you’re going to hire to do the work.
“Hire local, reputable contractors to do your repairs,” said Travis Neemann. “Ask your neighbors, friends, and family who they would recommend so you are prepared. Ask good questions: Is the contractor established in your city? Do they have good credit with a local shingle distribution company? This kind of thoroughness is essential because if they don’t pay for your materials, a lien can be placed on your property.”
Hiring a reputable contractor is important enough that it’s worth waiting for, too. Unless you have hail damage large enough to put holes in your roof or sections of your roof pulled from the house, Neemann recommends getting on the waiting list for a good contractor after a storm.
“Remember,” Travis said, “if you think it is expensive to hire a good contractor, try hiring a bad one!”
Keeping You Safe
When you consider the health and safety of your family in the wake of a storm, experiencing only damage to the exterior of your home or business becomes kind of a best-case scenario. A common problem people experience after a storm is scattered debris and obstructions on their property, such as trees that have fallen during the storm. Blue Ox Tree Service (blueoxtrees.com) can remove dead trees or other obstructions caused by a storm.
“When people find their property torn up after a storm, they usually aren’t prepared to clean it all up themselves,” said Owner Ed Lankas. “We have the equipment, manpower, and experience to take care of this for you. When you work with Blue Ox, you are in good hands.”
If you’ve lived in Lincoln for long, you know that severe weather isn’t an ‘if’ but a ‘when’. We recommend that you decide in advance of the next storm who you’ll turn to when you need help with repairs at your home or business after the storm. We recommend talking to the companies featured here.