Sunday, November 11, 2012

Thanks, Sandy

We won't be forgetting Sandy anytime soon at our house.  At about 3 PM as she was just revving up on Monday, a massive pine crashed into our roof.  Bad luck, you say?  Nope.  Not compared to the alternative.  The branch pictured below missed by head as I worked in my office by about two feet.  I was very, very lucky.

So began an experience that will always make me sympathetic to people whose homes are damaged in storms.  First, there was calling insurance.  But nowadays it's not enough to have insurance. I'm persuaded you are wise to hire a public adjuster who will advocate for you with the insurance company you're paying for coverage. The insurance adjuster has one goal: repair the damage at the least cost to the company. That puts you, the one paying for the coverage, in second position. No thanks.

Five days in a motel with three cats is a test of any relationship, but we made it through with a lot of comfort food at the local diner.  We gained weight, but we're bonded.

Then there's the hunt for some kind of long-term temporary housing. It's not home, but it's better than a motel.

And the repairs begin. I'm hoping for our house back by the New Year.

Here's what I've learned that I will share with all my clients from here on:

1. Big pine trees near a house are bad news.  Get them down. They are massive but their roots are incredibly shallow. In a heavy rain or in poorly draining soil, they're a disaster waiting to happen.

2. Pay attention to drainage.  Flooded basements and homes are every bit as horrible as a tree through the roof - in fact, they're probably worse. If a basement tends to take on water, have a battery operated sump pump. If a stream is nearby, make sure it can't flood your home. We know these things, but in the first blush of love with a house we tend to minimize their importance.  Don't.

3.  Reinforced homes are really cool. Rebar is wonderful. Off-grid capabilities are amazing. At the very least, a generator and a woodstove are things you're going to want.  When the heat is out for ten plus days and there's a freak cold spell, you're going to really, really appreciate them.

4. Know contractors. Have a list of experts on hand who will come when you call. I cannot imagine having to look for contractors during the initial chaos after the tree hit. I just picked up the phone, called the good folks I know, and we were headed toward normalcy (someday soon I hope).  If you're buying, get a list from your realtor. If you need someone new and you're established, ask around. Have your arsenal prepared.

5. A bottle of wine and a coconut custard pie help. You won't feel very well, but you'll be comforted.


  1. Thank you for sharing some tips and insights, Susan. I’m glad that despite the gravity of the situation, you still exude a positive attitude. Hurricane Sandy definitely burns into the memories of many. Shattered roofs and destroyed property are not good memories to remember by. But we can still take comfort in knowing that we could still rebuild our homes and our lives. And yes, a bottle of wine and coconut custard pie can help. :-) [Joanne Barragan]

  2. I can't help but feel fortunate when I see other people picking through the rubble that was their home, Joanne.
    But I'm still looking forward to the day when the workmen don't show up at 8 AM and the noise level gets back down to normal.

  3. I can't agree more with everything you said, especially with having a list of contractors to contact in case your roof or another part of your house gets damaged. It's good if you do your research beforehand, so that the list you have created will include the best and most reliable in your area.

    Antonia Johnston

  4. That was not a pretty sight. But thank goodness everyone is alright. Storms like that can really devastate properties and homeowners. But we have to move forward and stand again. The best that we can do is to be more prepared when something like this threatens our neighborhood again.[Willene Fagen]