The devastation that major hurricanes and other severe weather storms inflict on communities creates some unique challenges for contractors. There will be more rebuilding work than most outfits can handle. But managing the issues that arise in the post-catastrophe landscape requires heightened awareness about infrastructure and customer needs. Home owners and especially inviduals that have recently bought a home will not be in their comfort zone and your employees may encounter new challenges that include damaged roads, bridges and downed power lines. It’s important that contractors visit their emergency management plans and hold a team meeting about working seamlessly with residents.

Working with Property Owners in a Tough Situation

Take a moment and put yourself in the home or business owner’s shoes. That damaged property was likely their largest life investment and it stands in ruins. This may be the first time they have suffered a property damage loss and some simple advice and guidance can help them get organized and start removing damaged materials and begin the rebuilding process.

Ask the owner to locate their insurance policy and go over it with them. Most policies cover wind damage but separate policies are generally required for flooding. Have them get on the phone with an agent and start the claim process. They will need to get a quote to present to the insurance carrier.

Under normal circumstances, quotes are not urgent. But after a severe weather event, it may be in everyone’s best interest to put together a proposal that accounts for material shortages, power outages and increased travel time. If things run smoothly, you can always come in under budget. That expedient quote will help the property owner to get the process moving. If possible, cover any areas that are exposed to the elements before leaving.

Build Confidence

One of the unfortunate aspects of major storms is the less-than-reputable people they sometimes attract that try to take advantage of the chaos. By bringing important documents such as licenses, an insurance policy and a list of references, property owners can rest easy knowing you are there to help and not take advantage of them. Working with customers after a storm requires additional patience because they’ve suffered a significant personal and financial loss, and do not want to have a bad situation get worse.

Community Care

As you make the rounds to customers that are struggling through the storm’s aftermath, it’s important to carry supplies in your vehicle just in case. Water, batteries and food may be in short supply. Loading the work truck or van with a few cases of bottled water, snacks and batteries can make a big difference to those who have an immediate need for such things.

Worker Safety

Experienced contractors are generally used to handling challenging conditions. But the physical landscape can be quite different and dangerous after a major storm. The first hurdle will be driving hazards. These are some of the things a contractor would be wise to go over before sending out crews.

- Pack and Emergency Kit: Bring things such as extra water, food and a change of clothing. Carry a portable gasoline can that holds at least five gallons. Gas stations may be closed in areas and you don’t want your team stuck on the road.

- Drive with Extreme Caution: Severe weather can toss building materials on to roads. Metal and other material can cause a blowout. Downed poles and power lines are an extreme danger. It’s important to remember that many of the lines will become active and lethal as the power is restored. Advise your crew to avoid them at all costs.

- Floodwaters: Up to 6 inches of water can cause loss of driving control. Two feet can damage the engine and leave your team stranded in floodwaters. Avoid flooded roadways.
Beyond getting back and forth from job sites in devastation areas, emphasize that your team will basically be working under conditions such as a razing project. The storm will have grounded things such as trees, roof shingles, broken glass and other hazards. They should treat cleanup like that of demo work from the start.

By doing your due diligence and making sure everything runs smoothly, your business can both do its job and assist community members in a time of need.

Author's Bio: 

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