Severe Weather Rips Across Southeast

A strong storm system with winds in excess of 50mph tore across the Southeast early Monday, killing at least three people and doing excessive damage to at least two states. The storm spurned tornadoes which ripped buildings and homes apart and knocked down trees and power lines. Dozens of injuries have thus far been reported in Jefferson County, Alabama ranging from cuts and bruises to broken bones. It also is being reported that numerous homes in the county have been destroyed.

Emergency officials are working to find people who may be trapped or injured. Emergency road crews are accessing the damage and clearing roadways which have been made impassible. Cedar point, AL which is northeast of Birmingham was especially hard hit by the suspected twister(s) as there are numerous reports of trees on top of houses and of residents having to step over downed trees to make their way down residential streets. Many trees in Cedar Point were snapped in half from the dangerous storm activity and there is debris spread across the small community.

The American Red Cross and Salvation Army are sending in teams to assist victims of the storm. There are also reports of damage coming in from Chilton and Perry counties south of Birmingham in the state’s mid-section. The governor of Alabama Robert Bentley has already declared a state of emergency which means that funding resources can be used to aid local officials. A total of seven counties in Alabama were damaged by the storm with most being in Jefferson and Chilton counties.

In the rural community of Oak Grove near Birmingham, entire homes were flattened, windows were blown out of vehicles and roofs of houses were torn partially off in the darkness of the early morning hours Monday. Many residents of Oak Grove report hearing a loud “roar” at around 3:30 am when the bad weather struck. This community took a major hit from tornadoes in April of 2011 when over 230 people were killed in Alabama although this time it was not the same neighborhoods that took the brunt of the damage. Thus far, Oak Park has lost one resident in this storm as an elderly man has lost his life. In nearby Trussville, many homes also were flattened and there are numerous reports of injuries there.

There were possible tornadoes in Arkansas as well. The storms also produced large hail and high winds as they moved through portions of Arkansas, Tennessee, Illinois and Mississippi.

Repairing A Broken Pipe, Better Call In A Plumber

A broken pipe is not only annoying; it can get pretty difficult to clean up the aftermath. Especially, if it’s a bathroom pipe or pipes holding sewage wastes. Also, if you take moral ethics into count, then a leaky pipe or a broken faucet means wastage of water. Not only is the constant drip-drip an annoyance but fixing a broken pipe can well be expensive in the long run. Plus the more water you waste, you’ll have a larger bill to clear eventually. Occasional drips or leaks can be easily fixed, but a major broken pipe will be harder to fix yourself.

This is why it is best to call in a plumber to fix your broken or leaking pipes. Not only are they experienced in this kind of work, but they will also be able to suggest the correct remedy for your broken pipes. Now broken pipes can be of all kinds. They can be inside your bathroom, outside in your garden, in your kitchen sink or even the water mains outside your house. Each problem has a different solution and this can be best judged by the plumber. After all, fixing the problem is one thing, but experimenting with it and then worsening the situation won’t actually help you.

Now some people don’t want to invest in a plumber, and in case you do want to fix the broken pipe yourself, it is best to read up on plumbing basics first. Household pipes are generally installed inside your wall cavity or under floorboards. Most problems occur near fixtures such as tubs, toilets and sinks, but sometimes it might just be the pipe that’s causing the problem. For instance, they might have a blockage, or become corroded or just become old and brittle. Pipes can be made of copper, cast-iron, brass, PVC plastic or galvanized steel.

You need to check inside the pipe to see the reason for its breakage and also to see if there is any kind of blockage inside. Use a pipe or wire brush to remove any residual blockage or debris first. Metal pipes can be fixed by soldering or using compression fitting and even by using flare nuts over them. Couplings are also helpful when it comes to fixing broken pipes. Read up on the kind of coupling that will fit on your pipes or ask the handyman to get some for you. Plastic pipe joints that are defected should be cut with a hacksaw or pipe cutter specifically.
Make sure you brace the joint to stop it from rotating and then use a sand paper or utility knife to remove ragged edges. Make sure you start with a dry fitting and use a pencil liner to mark the spot. Apply cement mix to both the inside and outside of the pipe and fit it immediately, using the marking for directions. Make sure you do it instantly or the cement will dry. For PVC pipes, apply PVC primer first and then start with the rest of the work. Always use proper precaution and the right tools and when it doubt, don’t hesitate to call for your plumber.

Residents in Southern Florida Struggle with Flooding

Heavy rainfall has caused severe flooding in Miami-Dade and Broward counties in Florida. With more rain in the forecast for early this week, the National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for parts of Miami-Dade and Broward counties which will remain in effect until Tuesday.

Affected residents are being warned to stay inside and to avoid walking and driving in flood waters. Health officials in Miami are telling affected residents not to eat or drink anything which as been touched by flood waters as it will be contaminated. Several schools have been closed in both Miami-Dade and Broward counties due to flooding and are expected to re-open sometime this week. Over fifty apartments in one Fort Lauderdale complex were flooded late Sunday as were the complex’s underground parking garages. Several other apartment complexes in Fort Lauderdale were also affected by flooding as was a local food bank. The public has been asked to volunteer to help those affected mop and clean up.

The cause of the flooding in South Florida was a stalled frontal system which dumped twelve inches of rain in some areas. Even though much of the region of Florida has adequate drainage via many canals, the drains simply backed up under the strain of heavy rain. Fort Lauderdale Beach received the worst of the rain as 12.5 inches fell there. Coconut Grove received 11 inches followed by Palmetto Bay with 8.8 inches.

Thousands of residents and businesses were affected by the Florida flooding which will result in many of them having to deal with the damage over the next few days if not weeks. Insurance companies in the affected region reported Monday that many flood claims have been filed with the majority of them for roof and vehicle engine damage. Nearly 3,000 Florida Power & Light customers lost their power early Monday although most should see it restored by Tuesday.

The flood damage was so extensive in parts of Fort Lauderdale that several restoration companies were hard at work already Monday cleaning up apartments, homes and businesses which had several inches of dirty standing water inside. Rainy weather and gusting winds are expected to remain over South Florida until mid-week. A low pressure system in the Gulf of Mexico is also bring in some added rain. That system has a 60% chance of developing into a tropical cyclone. Residents living in low-lying areas in South Florida are being told to have plans in place to address flooding which may occur.

Cleaning Up After a Hurricane

Hurricanes are forces of nature and they leave a trail of devastation and destruction on its wake. The storms and hurricanes all over the world are said to have been caused by man’s abuse of the Earth. But because they are unavoidable, the best you can do is to always be prepared. Having emergency supplies and a place to retreat for safety is very important. Boarding up the house and property before the hurricane comes is another method of protection.

Upon Returning to the Site

Remember to only return to your property after emergency officials have declared it safe to do so. Value your life more than material things. Only go once you are allowed to. Wear protective covering for your face, feet, and body. Do not attempt to touch any fallen wires or clear any trees. Call the utility company and report loss of power, upturned gas tanks, etc. Once power is restored, check the refrigerator for spoiled food and throw them out immediately. You can do a preliminary cleanup of your property by wiping wet surfaces. You can also dispose of waterlogged items like furniture, carpets, mattresses and pillows. Clothes that can be salvaged may be placed in garbage bags and taken to a Laundromat to be washed and cleaned.

File an Insurance Claim

Damage to property due to hurricanes is usually covered by insurance. You can file a claim and expect to be paid after a reasonable amount of time. You can wait for the insurance adjuster to come and inspect your house. But you may also take pictures to document the damage, especially if you are in a hurry to clean up. Whatever miscellaneous items you purchase may be reimbursed if you keep all receipts and invoices. Taking down notes about what particular parts of your house need to be repaired is also helpful. You will have to wait until the adjustor has finished inspection before you can call for outside service. Make sure you have a written quotation from the contractor because it is necessary for reimbursement purposes.

Utilize Outside Services

For major cleanup and repairs, it’s best if you outsource the service. There are several companies that specialize in hurricane damage repairs and cleaning. It can be overwhelming to deal with it all but you can count on these companies to deal with your destroyed floorboards, flooded basement or damaged roof. They are meticulous and thorough. They also prioritize hurricane victims so you can expect a crew to arrive immediately at your place. Broken windows, debris and tree removal can also be handled by these companies. There are even companies that offer complete restoration services. So, you will not have to worry about anything… they will take care of it all.

Hurricane Floods Cause Maximum Destruction

One of the reasons why hurricanes are known to wreak havoc, destroy homes, property and kill people is due to floods. It is common for floods to take a natural effect during the course of tropical storm or hurricane because the waters in the rivers, sea swell with water from the rains. Hurricane Irene has gone down in history as one of the most expensive natural disasters in the history of US, apart from the multi-billion dollar called Hurricane Katrina. Experts say that extensive damage is not due to the winds but due to flooding.

The industry estimate for the cost of hurricane Irene is about $7 billion to $9.7 billion, mostly due to the impact of the flooding. There was severe flooding in Vermont, upstate New York, and the rough waters destroyed several fields of tobacco and cotton, put a stop on harvesting, fishing work and disrupted transport, which led to many people staying at home. So, the economy and productivity was definitely hit by the floods.

In fact, Hurricane Irene has caused so much damage due to floods that it is difficult to know how many damaged homes are covered under flood insurance.. The deductibles have also become expensive in recent times,, needing homeowners to come up with more than four thousand dollars in damage before the insurance company comes into picture.
Flooding causes power failures throughout cities and villages ; which has been known to affect tens of thousands of people. In case of Hurricane Irene, thousands of people in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut were without power.
After the hurricane weakens and the damage restoration takes place, the officials have to focus on restoring power, clearing debris, repairing bridges, roads etc that have been ravaged by floods, not to mention helping people and saving lives. Flood waters are also known to have caused major trouble to waste treatment plans and local sewage.
Considering how airports are closed, flights get cancelled, commuters stay at home, and businesses are rendered powerless and crops damaged, you can imagine what an indestructible loss is caused by these floods.
Under such circumstances, the authorities have to take all preventative measures to stop floods from causing more damage. The citizens should also cooperate with the authorities and develop an evacuation planl this can be done by contacting local emergency management office or the American Red Cross to undestsnad the best and safest shelter places and evacuation areas.
Also after the floods cease and the hurricane winds lose their power, it is better to wait and get a green signal from the weather authorities before the task of repairing the damage comes into the fore. Also, if you are staying in a flood prone area, it is better to take flood insurance so that the financial loss is not borne by you

Vermont Reeling from Affects of Hurricane Irene, Massive Cleanup Process Underway

While Hurricane Irene lashed numerous states along its path over the weekend, one state where the after-effects are being felt the hardest is Vermont. There has been some remarkable footage coming out of the Green Mountain state which has shown massive flooding, rivers over-flowing, roadways completely washed away and thousand of people left stranded.

The Mad River Valley has received the worst damage from Irene in central Vermont as the storm thrashed the area on Sunday. The tropical storm is responsible for wrecking hundreds of homes, businesses, schools and city offices in Moretown, Waterbury, Waitsfield and Warren. Many people have reported that there homes were filled with five feet of water in this area of Vermont as a result of the rains and massive water run-offs. The entire valley has been devastated. There was an eighteen foot high wall of water in some portions of the valley on Sunday night. Now the goal of emergency crews is to at least create some paths for emergency vehicles to use so that they can begin to get to work repairing the horrific damage which has been done to utility poles, roadways and bridges.

Vermont experienced the worst flooding the state has seen in 100 years as Irene left communities coping with some of the region’s worst flooding it has ever received. On Tuesday, thirty FEMA trucks hauling supplies arrived in Vermont to give aid to the thousands of residents affected by the storm. Food, blankets and other items are being handed out in the communities worst hit. Helicopters are being used to get supplies to those towns and communities that cannot be reached by road. The National Guard is distributing supplies to those communities reachable by land.

Thus far there is no official estimate of what it is going to cost to repair the hundreds of badly damaged roadways and bridges in Vermont. However, the state has been assured by FEMA that the feds are going to contribute 75% of the cost. The final bill will be steep which means that local and state budgets will somehow have to come up with one-forth of the money. Governor Shumlin says that he will find the funding somehow without having to take money from Vermont’s rainy-day fund. The bad news for the many affected home and business owners is that FEMA is saying that it will take several days to obtain accurate estimates to give to President Obama to get the funding flowing into the devastated state.

Time for Floridians to Be Ready for Tropical Storms as Irene Approaches

It is time for residents of Florida to prepare their homes and properties for the possible arrival of tropical storms and hurricanes. Tropical storm Irene is threatening to become the first storm to reach hurricane strength this week as it is making its way along the southern coast of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The National Weather Service has said that Irene could hit the southern Florida coasts by as early as Thursday or Friday of this week as a hurricane.

Now is not the time to become complacent if you live in Florida just because there has been an absence of severe storms in recent years. The Florida Division of Emergency Management wishes to warn people in the state to not have a false sense of security during this year’s hurricane season. Hurricane Katrina made landfall in southern Florida in late August of 2005 as only a Category 1 storm but the damage it did to homes and properties was extensive.

The most common type of damage which can occur during a tropical storm or hurricane in Florida is debris breaking windows and water filling a property. Also, high winds can wreak havoc on a building, creating pressure inside which can cause the roof to rip off. A tropical storm can pack sustained winds of between 40 and 73 miles per hour while a Category 5 hurricane can bring winds in excess of 155 mile per hour with 18+ feet storm surges which inevitably lead to catastrophic damage to homes, businesses and properties.

When you live in Florida, and especially in the southern portion of the state, it is a part of life to protect your home from potential damage done by tropical storms and hurricanes. Homes can be devastated by high wind and waves and debris can easily break doors and windows. It is essential to do regular inspections on roofs. A technique called “hurricane blocking” can be done to new structures which entails putting an extra 2×4 under the truss which creates a pocket of air space. This prevents a vacuum from forming during occurrences of strong winds.

Impact-resistant windows can be installed on new homes. Owners of older homes can have their windows “wet-flashed” which is a process of putting a sealant on the windows to prevent water leaks. Impact-resistant doors can also be used on homes. Additionally, it is wise to see to it that doors have at least three hinges and a dead bolt lock that features a bolt which is at least two inches long. There are no other storms on earth as powerful as hurricanes so it is essential to prepare your Florida property before a storm strikes. It is also important to know your city’s community disaster plan and to create a family plan as well.

Mold Test is a Must When Buying a Home in Florida

If you are planning to buy a home or any other property in Florida, it is important that you consider getting it inspected for mold. A home buyer, under a typical property purchase agreement, has the right to carry out all sorts of inspections. And as Florida has a humid and moist environment all through the year, which is ideal for mold growth, it is important that besides performing a standard home inspection you must also get your new home inspected for mold.

Although not all molds are harmful, but there are certain mold types that are toxic and can cause serious health problems. Alternaria, cladosporium, mucor, penicillium and Stachybotrys are some of the harmful types of molds commonly found in Florida.

These toxic molds produce irritants and allergens that can instigate health issues. Inhaling or touching mold spores can bring about allergic reactions in people with a weakened immune system. Red eyes, sneezing, sore throat, difficulty in breathing, sinus congestion, skin rashes and irritation are the common allergic reactions experienced by the sensitive people. In addition expecting women, unborn child, infants, young children and elders are at high risk of developing allergies and health conditions when living in an environment affected by molds.

Mold odor has been associated with a two-fold increase in the chances of a kid developing asthma in the future. Furthermore, molds growing in the walls of your home may generate unnoticeable odor, which can lead to allergic reactions and an increased risk of asthma.

Apart from the dangerous effects of molds on your health, they are known to damage and destroy all the things they thrive on. Hidden molds can easily eat into your valuable furnishings if left unchecked.

As you can make out from the above discussion that molds cannot only have a serious effect on your health, but they can also cause your property value to go down. Therefore, it is important that you must get a mold test done from a professional mold removal company when thinking of purchasing a new home in Florida. A competent molt inspection company will not only perform the air sampling, but will also check for the hidden molds and odor. The firm will examine the heat ventilation and air conditioning systems, air flow and pressure, and investigate the building defects. It will provide you with a detailed report with proofs such as photos and lab results, and recommend measures needed to get rid of the mold problem.

Tropical Storm Emily may develop into a Hurricane before reaching Florida

Tropical Storm Emily developed in the Caribbean close to the Lesser Antilles Monday evening. It is predicted to reach South Florida on Saturday as a category one hurricane. Small change in its strength since it formed has been reported.
At around 5 a.m., it was reported to be about 245 miles of San Juan, Puerto Rico and was about 1,200 miles southeast of Miami. With sustained winds of 40 mph, it is travelling at 16 mph.

If the forecast holds, the tropical storm would reach south of Puerto Rico Tuesday, get to the Dominican Republic by Wednesday and hit the Turks and Caicos Islands by Thursday. It is predicted to reach central Bahamas by Friday and draw close to the Miami coast by Saturday. However, the estimated course may change in next few days, as more data about steering currents becomes available.

Hurricane specialists using the computer models to predict the path of Emily stated that it may hit Florida by this weekend. According to the forecast made by the National Hurricane Center, a low-pressure trough is more likely to form over the western Atlantic, which could pull the storm toward South Florida. However, it is difficult to determine the path of Emily because of its rough condition. As per hurricane specialists with the Accuweather and National Hurricane Center, the system may die down as it approaches land and interacts with dry air, but other atmospheric conditions, like warm sea-surface temperatures may strengthen it.

The storm is predicted to move diagonally from the Lesser Antilles in the direction of Florida. According to Erik Pinrock, leading meteorologist with Accuweather, the high pressure that is shielding the storm over and above the eastern Atlantic and Florida has moved over the Midwest, allowing the tropical systems to progress toward Florida. Pinrock added that certain large-scale conditions in the environment support the predictions made by the computer models and forecasters with the National Hurricane Center.

According to Pinrock, there is a chance of Emily developing into a minimal hurricane. However, if the storm is stronger, then the possibility of it turning north-east toward the sea before reaching Florida is quite high.

The hurricane season this time is off to an active beginning. Before Emily, all the four named storms have been weak. However, the season is going to peak shortly, increasing the possibility of more forceful storms developing in a couple of upcoming months.

Tips for Boarding up Your Windows before a Hurricane

The hurricane season in Florida starts from June and lasts until November. It is imperative that you take all the preventive measures before and during the hurricane season. Boarding up the windows of your home can considerably reduce the chance of damage caused by wind and water. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends that you should use five-eighths-inch marine plywood to board up your windows. However, it is important to understand that this preventive measure provides a temporary protection against hurricanes. It is highly advised that you should use more solid and durable structures such as steel shutters, especially if you live in areas, like Florida, which are more likely to experience a high-intensity hurricane.

Other things that you will require for boarding up your windows are gloves, safety goggles, tape measure, circular saw, framing square, pencil, drill and drill bits, ¼-inch lag screws (for houses with wood frame structure), ¼-inch expansion bolts, wrench, hammer, nuts, masonry anchors, wood anchors and large washers.

1. Count the number of windows in your homes and use the tape measure to determine the width and height of each window. Add 8-inch to both the width and the height.

2. Take the circular saw and cut the board as per measurements you have taken. Wear the gloves and safety goggles while doing so to prevent the wooden splinters from piercing into your hands and injuring your eyes. Use the framing square to get a straight cut.

3. Now take the drill and use drill bits corresponding to the diameter of the screws or bolts to drill the holes. The holes should be 2-inch in from the edge of the board at every corner. Drill the holes all-around the panel by keeping twelve-inch gaps between them. For example, drill one hole at the top right edge of the panel, then measure down twelve inches and drill another one. Keep on repeating this process until you have drilled the holes around the whole board panel.

4. Position the drilled board in place firmly and use the pencil to mark opening of the holes.

5. Now secure the board on all four sides. If you are securing the board on a wooden frame house and windows measuring 3-by-4 feet or smaller, then apply plastic-coated permanent anchor. Place a washer and use the wrench to tighten ¼-inch lag screws into each hole. For windows larger than 3-by-4, use 3/8-inch lag screws. For securing the board to masonry house with windows 3-by-4 feet or smaller, apply galvanized permanent expansion anchor and use ¼-inch expansion bolts. Use the hammer to pound in the screws. For bigger windows, use 3/8-inch expansion bolts.