As the battering wind and torrential rain of Hurricane Florence continue to hammer North Carolina, the immediate worry is keeping people safe from the ravages of the storm.
But once the rain and winds cease, the danger is far from over.
Fallen tree limbs, downed power lines and floods mean plenty of storm debris cleanup on post-hurricane properties.
What should property managers look for when they return to their buildings?
Roger Beale, manager of training and efficiency at Greenscape Inc., offers tips on restoring your property to safety after the storm.
First, Take Your Time
“Everybody will have been in their houses for 24 to 72 hours and they’ll be stir crazy,” Beale says. “They’ll want to get out and look at everything. That’s human nature. But don’t get in a rush. Make the decision to be safe.”
When you travel to your property, be cautious, he says. Don’t drive through running water. Stay at least 100 feet away from downed power lines and report them to the power company.
Is Your Building Accessible To Emergency Vehicles?
Can a fire truck, police car or ambulance safely get to your building? Be sure parking lots are clear and doorways are accessible.
All sorts of debris could litter your property, from roof shingles and huge branches to trash and even picnic tables and outdoor furniture.
Prioritize storm debris cleanup that affects access to your building.
Can You Get There From Here?
How accessible is your property? If you can only get to it from one direction, let tenants know, Beale says.
“You might tell them, for example, to approach from Highway 54 instead of using Chapel Hill Road,” he says.
“After a storm, our instinct is to look down at the ground for flooded lots and downed limbs,” Beale says. “But don’t just look down — look up. There might be branches hanging in the trees that haven’t fallen yet.”
Do You See Running Water?
“If you see running water in your parking lot with pressure behind it, and you’re not near a creek, an uprooted tree may have ripped a PVC water line out of the ground,” Beale says. “You’ll need to turn off the main water line.”
Check Surrounding Woods
“We tend to only look at the landscape trees that people planted,” Beale says.
But if your property is bordered by woods, check trees on the perimeter that could be weakened by the storm and fall onto your property. Look for trees that are leaning or that have exposed roots.
What To Look For Inside
After you examine the outside of your building for dangers or damage, move to the inside, Beale says.
Check the basement first. Is it dry?
Inspect the ceiling, then interior walls for water damage. Is there any discoloration?
Check faucets and toilets for water issues. If you turn on the faucet and it spits out air with the water, there’s likely a leak somewhere, he says.
Do you have an internet connection?
“A falling tree may have ripped your fiber out of the ground,” Beale says.
Does your air conditioning work?
“People will want to stay cool, even after a hurricane,” he says.
Trees may fall days or even weeks after the hurricane, weakened by the storm, Beale says. Keep your eyes open.
How Greenscape Can Help
We can do site visits on your property to check for all the dangers Beale has pointed out. We’ll clear parking lots and entrances and remove storm debris.
Many of our customers have arranged this with us prior to the storm. Those clients are our first priority.
Need our help, but haven’t asked yet? We can still help, but it may take a few days for us to get to your property.
How We Prepared For The Storm
Our managers and foremen are trained to use chainsaws and chippers safely, and received extra training before the hurricane.
We sent our crews home for extra rest and will only call them in for cleanup once the storm has completely passed.
We arranged days ago to rent extra equipment for storm cleanup, from skid steers to chippers to grapplers that grab and move small trees and large branches.
“If I called a company today about renting a chipper, they’d laugh at me,” Beale said.
We planned ahead, so we’re ready to dive in.
Clean Up Safely With Greenscape
We hope your property escapes the worst of Hurricane Florence.
But if you’re overwhelmed with storm debris cleanup, give us a call. We’ll help you as soon as we can.
We’ve been meeting the full-service landscaping needs of commercial customers in the Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and Cary areas for more than 35 years.
When we’re not cleaning up after hurricane damage, we offer landscape management and lawn care, design and build services, irrigation, landscape lighting and more.
Call us at 919-552-7742. We’d love to help.