Hurricanes and tropical storms – they’re inevitable, and unwelcome, visitors to those living along the Florida coast. Today, coastal residents almost always receive ample warning of a storm’s approach, which allows time to secure properties and structures as much as possible.
Despite the most careful preparation, however, damage still happens. Here are a few ideas on how to assess the condition of boat docks and seawalls at the shore of your property, once the storm has passed, and before you begin to clean up:
SAFETY FIRST – Don’t venture to the water’s edge until the weather has calmed down – completely. This means no stiff winds or driving rain, and you must absolutely avoid the water (or being outdoors at all) if lightning is flashing.
LOOK AT THE BIG PICTURE – Take a general look around at the dock, the seawall, the ground behind the wall. What looks different? Has water crested over the seawall and compromised the landscaping? Is the dock leaning, or tipped, or damaged in some other way? Again, think ahead and act safely. Watch out for soft, mushy footing if you walk on the ground behind the seawall, and don’t test the strength of the dock by stepping onto it if it looks damaged.
READ YOUR POLICY, CALL YOUR AGENT – You may already know what’s covered under your homeowner’s insurance policy, or at least believe you know. Now is a good time to get it out and familiarize yourself with your coverage just the same. If there’s obvious damage and you’re going to file a claim, chances are you’ll be referring to the policy soon anyway. And call your agent before you try and fix or clean up anything. Often the insurance agent will tell you to…
TAKE PICTURES, AND LOTS OF THEM – If one picture is worth a thousand words, then a few dozen digital images are worth one thick written report. Grab your camera and take pictures of anything that looks compromised or broken or damaged, from every angle. If you can be certain your dock is safe to walk on, take pictures of the water side of your seawall if you think some harm may have come to it.
Only after following these tips should you think about beginning your post-storm cleanup. The storm has come and gone, and there’s no preventing them, but you can prevent injury and misunderstandings by moving forward diligently and wisely after calmer weather settles in.
Please call us at 727-942-3111 if you have any concerns about damage to your waterfront structures and property.