How to protect your family and home ahead of another round of severe storms

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- The Virginia Department of Emergency Management is encouraging people to prepare their homes and themselves with the possibility of severe weather on Friday.

"What we really are concerned about is flooding and possible tornadoes that can spin up from these storms and that’s why we’re watching it very closely as it comes in," said VDEM chief spokesperson Jeff Caldwell.

The department tweeted out a list of suggestions, which included clearing debris from storm drains and moving pesticides, chemicals, and fuels off the high ground.

"Also, we encourage folks to take inside anything that could be blown away or become a projectile. Toys, lawn furniture, trash cans, those type of things," said Caldwell. That also includes cleaning up any branches and limbs that were felled during this past Sunday’s storm.

Caldwell added people should also check their trees for any dead limbs and prune those off.

Jeremiah Tuttle, a certified arborist and owner of Old Dominion Tree Company, said spotting dead limbs should be easy at this time of year.

“A lot of the trees are budding out, leafing out. So, you’ll see stuff that doesn’t have leaves on it or it looks like it’s abnormal. Different angles than other limbs,” added Tuttle.

He said that people should also be inspecting the base of the trees that are still standing from the last storm and call an arborist if they notice something is off.

"A lot of these trees that do fall in these storms, they’re the product of another storm, that failure, whether the roots pop or whether they came a tenth of the way over. A lot of times it’s not noticed, and those trees are just as dangerous as the ones that have fallen already or more."

Caldwell said people should also put together an emergency preparedness kit with things like water, non-perishable food, and flashlights in case of power outages.

“If we get a big storm with lots of trees coming down, we may lose power this weekend, so it’s always good to have those items on hand,” added Caldwell.

A link to VDEM’s suggestions of what to have in your kit can be found here.

Beyond preparing for just this storm, Caldwell said people should start thinking about protections against the 2019 storm season.

"If you're in a flood-prone area, even if you're not required to have flood insurance because of a flood zone designation, we encourage people to get it," said Caldwell, who noted that it normally takes 30 days to become effective. "For the storms tomorrow, unfortunately, flood insurance won't help you right now if you're just getting it, but we do encourage folks to do that because we got a long summer ahead of us."

When it comes to tree maintenance, Tuttle suggested something called crown reductions, which requires thinning out the number of limbs at the tops of trees.

"Any tree you look in your yard and see and it’s got a big sail like top, those are the ones that are going to be most susceptible to failure. The wind catches them easy. So, when you thin them, you let air go through them as opposed to like an umbrella effect,” added Tuttle

For more tips from the VDEM on storm and tornado preparation, click here.

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