After the Wildfire: Storm Damage Dangers
Wildfires have become a year round concern for property owners in Los Angeles and across Southern California. But there are a few things homeowners can do to prepare your home for wildfires. Likewise, business owners and property managers can take steps to mitigate the risk of wildfire damage to your commercial property.
But even once the fire is out and the smoke and soot is cleaned up, property owners should remain vigilant. Indeed, the greatest risk for storm damage often occurs in areas ravaged by fire. The storm damage dangers usually come in two forms: mudslides and floods.
Even if it's been several years since wildfires last burned the slopes near your home, the potential risk for mudslides can remain. It doesn't require much time or precipitation to start a "debris flow." An intense rainstorm can start moving rock, earth and other debris within minutes. Mudslides move very fast, leaving little time for a homeowner to react and respond.
If you live in the hills, the most important thing you can do to prepare for the kind of storms that could start a mudslide is to have an emergency kit and an evacuation plan. Sign up for emergency alerts from Los Angeles County and always heed the orders of first responders if required to evacuate.
There are also improvements you can make around your property to protect your home from mudslides, such as planting trees and shrubs or building channels and barriers to deflect runoff. Always follow the recommendations of a qualified geotechnical engineer to maximize the efficacy without putting neighboring properties at risk.
Lastly, review your home insurance policy. The National Flood Insurance Program may cover damage from debris flow as well as flooding. And SERVPRO of North Hollywood works directly with all major insurance carriers, reducing your stress should your property experience storm or water damage covered by your policy.
Meanwhile lower lying areas, such as the foothills of the Verdugo Mountains and the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys, also share storm damage risk following wildfires in the form of flooding.
The decreased vegetation in burned out areas means that less of the rainwater gets soaked up by thirsty trees and shrubs. With little to nothing to absorb it, the rainwater naturally flows downhill and, during intense storms, can rush with surprising speed and force.
Like property owners in the hills, the best way to prepare for storm floods is to have emergency supplies and an evacuation plan. Meanwhile there are plenty of things you can do around your home to mitigate flood damage risk, including cleaning out gutters, inspecting for leaks and installing a sump pump in your basement or crawl space.
If you live in a flood risk area, talk to an insurance agent about The National Flood Insurance Program. You may even qualify for reduced premiums based on your location, income and any flood mitigation steps taken to protect your home or business location.
Should the worst happen and your property suffers water damage from a storm, be sure to call SERVPRO of North Hollywood right away. We're here 24/7 to respond immediately to any size disaster and clean up and restore your property "Like it never even happened."