We have just been through Hurricane Irene in the East Coast and its after effects will be felt for many days and weeks to come. I was lucky. For the first time that I can remember in a bad storm we didn't lose power. As a result I was able to offer my two generators to friends and neighbors who were not so lucky. I did loose a few trees but again was lucky that didn't fall on my home or vehicles. Some friends and customers were not so lucky.
I just visited this customer's home in Newton that had a tremendous tree fall directly across the roof.
Here is how I helped: I immediately returned her call and asked if she was all right and if she needed immediate help. Once I determined that she was safe and could wait until the following day, I made sure she had called her insurance company immdiately to let them know and open a claim. I set up a meeting to go to her home the next day. I advised her to stay off the roof and let the professionals handle it. I visited her and brought a ladder and went up on the roof and surveyed the damage. Luckily the second story addition we had built her a few years ago was sound and strong enough to handle the tremendous load of that 1000 year old tree falling on her home. And the tree was secure and not going to cause additional problems. I advised her of the damage in writing and gave her a preliminary estimate for the repairs for her insurance company. I helped her find the correct experts - professional tree removal services, to get the tree removed safely and to begin to get on with her life.
I actually had three similar calls yesterday and visited each of them. All were previous customers of mine and knew they could count on me to help them. I tried my best to survey the situation and offer the best advice for how to fix their problems caused by this terrible storm. Often it is to point them to another source who could best help. If it involved repairs to their home, than I put together a plan to help as soon as possible to do that. We are at a home repairing a roof today. That is what we are here for.
Remember the following in an emergency such as this:
- Be careful - don't put your self in harms way. Don't go out into the storm if you don't have to. Watch for down power lines and falling trees. Stay clear!
- Make sure your family is safe and secure before moving on to next steps.
- Contact your insurance company. Have you policy information handy. Keep your critically important documents in a safe and accessible location
- Contact family, friends or contractors that you trust to help you. Don't ever try to do something beyond your capability or expertise.
- Have emergency numbers readily available. Know who you will contact and how you will do it.
- Understanding that power, phone lines, internet service can often be lost in an emergency consider having resources such as a generator (trust me it is pretty hard to find one today!), a smart phone, a valuables safe, and a disaster kit available for the next time.
More importantly, I feel my responsibility is to be a resource to my customers to help in good times and bad and to be avaialble when they need me. Lucky for me I only lost my internet service and had a smart phone to keep in contact with people. For others it was so much worse. Let's work together to help each other out!