We recently posted an article on how to prepare your garden for a hurricane. With the number of hurricanes or tropical storms that have been able to reach New England this year, a hurricane threat is no longer limited to the south. It can hit large segments of the East as well.
Since we’ve already discussed how to protect your garden prior to a hurricane. We feel that it is necessary to follow up and discuss what you can do to care for or save your gardens, trees, and yes, your home after the hurricane.
Here is a checklist you can follow immediately after the storm.
Check Your Evergreens
Evergreens are very vulnerable to strong winds, a major feature of a hurricane. Immediately after the hurricane and when it is safe to go outside, inspect them for damage and remove broken branches. This will assist the evergreens to make a suitable recovery over time and look as good as it did if not better.
Protect Your Roses
During hurricane season, roses still feature flowers and leaves. This helps in making them look alluring, but it also makes them susceptible to wind. The stems are top heavy and their roots can work their way out of the soil as the wind buffets them back and forth. It is advised that you prune the graft and roots that have been exposed, even if they have plenty of leaves with sharp secateurs. If you have hybrid tea roses, it’s advised that you cut them to about 3-inches.
Shrubs and old-fashioned roses will need a gentle regime and should be reduced by one-third. Tie climbers and ramblers securely to them and then use your feet to firm up the soil around the roses. Be sure to cover any roots that may have been exposed. This will assist the roses to survive another storm should it occur.
Inspect Woody Plants
Observe your woody plants to make certain that none of the shrubs and trees have damaged branches or exposed roots. Snipping them a bit now could save them from more destruction in the future. If you need to tie up a tree to straighten it out, be sure that the tie is not chafing the trunk. It is also advised that you cover any exposed roots.
Clean Away The Debris
If you observe loose branches on the ground, pick them up to avoid any other damage should there be a heavy wind. Remove soggy leaf clumps near plants and in gullies between borders and lawn. The leaf clumps could be hosting slugs.
Stay Off Your Grass
It is advised that you delay walking on the grass until conditions improve.
Care For Your Trees
It is suggested that professional arborists care for your trees after a hurricane. They have the equipment needed and the training to do what’s necessary safely.
You can remove fallen branches or other parts of trees after weather conditions improve. Of course, trees that have fallen on or near your home should be handled first.
If you want stumps ground away, talk to the arborist you’ve hired to care for the trees. The wood chips that result from grinding up the stumps can be used as mulch. So be sure to save them.
Homeowners can tackle the problem of removing smaller trees and branches. Use a chain saw to properly clear the debris.
Rely on the professional arborist to remove large branches that may be hanging from a tree.
Hurricane clean up involves more than your garden and trees. Structures on your property may be damaged and there may be other issues you need to attend to.
Once you’ve received the all-clear signal that the storm is no longer a threat, here are additional things to be concerned with.
When you return to your property after a hurricane, it is advised that you avoid entering your home and other structures until you’re sure that it’s safe. Be on the look out for such hazards as downed electrical wiring, carbon monoxide from generators, and structural issues due to the wind and water. When you finally have access to your home, you should:
• Turn off the electricity at the main circuit breaker as long as you don’t have to stand in water.
• Turn off and remove generators.
• Stay away from a building with clear structural damage or making unusual noises that may indicate hidden damage.
It is advised that you don’t enter a building until it has been inspected. Call FEMA to have your structures checked.
Be cautious around hazardous chemicals including weed killer containers, batteries, propane tanks, etc. Ask the fire department to remove chemicals.
If you contact any hazardous materials, wash the affected area as soon as possible. For more information about household chemicals contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If you don’t have an outdoor standalone generator, then don’t count on electricity. Make your visits to your home during daylight hours so that you can see debris. If by any chance you have electricity, be careful with it. There could be standing water and power appliances that could cause a short that will result in a disaster.
Expect the water in and around your home to be contaminated. Keep this water out of your body. Drink only bottled water and immediately clean and bandage cuts and other open sores. Use antibiotic cream on cuts and ask a doctor to take a look at the wound.
Keep kids and pets from contaminated water and be sure to sanitize toys and other items that may have gotten wet. It is advised that you throw away any items that you can’t clean.
Finally, mold is a major issue after hurricanes. You need to remove it.
When dealing with the mold:• Wear an N-95 or P-100 respirator.
• Cover up and wear protective gloves and goggles.
• Prevent transporting mold. Leave your protective gear behind so that you don’t carry mold away.
• Remove the water with a wet/dry vac.
• Make sure that the house is well ventilated.
• Throw away what can’t be cleaned.
• Use a mixture of half a cup of bleach and one quart of water to scrub moldy surfaces. Don’t rinse, but let everything air dry.
• After the mold has been cleaned up, place a dehumidifier and fans throughout the house to dry every out.
• Paint only after the mold has been removed.