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Once again Long Islanders have to confront the possibility that a hurricane may slam across our shores, leaving destruction in its wake. In the days before the storm hits, homeowners can take important steps to prepare their property in order to minimize the damage, and, if repairs are needed in the storm’s aftermath, to ensure that they’re not too costly or time consuming.

As we know firsthand at Alure Home Improvements, it’s never too early to prepare your home and your family for severe weather before the strong winds blow and the heavy rains fall.

We recommend you follow these tips and heed the advice from the National Weather Service’s National Hurricane Center:

In case you lose power or are trapped in your home for a few days, you’ll want to have all your supplies in an easy-to-find, safe container that ideally is water proof. Make sure you have dry food that you can prepare when there’s no power, enough clean water for everyone in the household to drink for a couple of days, a battery-powered radio, a working flashlight and a first-aid kit. Also, stock up on any necessary prescriptions or medications in case the pharmacies are closed after the storm. Another important tip is to make sure your cell phones are fully charged when severe weather is in the forecast.

Before the storm comes, make sure you understand how much risk of flooding your home could face. Talk to your emergency management office or your local officials to get informed.

Keep your important phone numbers handy so you can contact them in the event of an emergency. Don’t wait until there’s damage to your records to call your insurance company. Make sure you can reach your local law enforcement officials—especially if someone in your household is elderly and infirm, on life support, or there are newborns, infants and toddlers who might need special attention in case of an evacuation.

If the government tells you to evacuate, don’t hesitate. We saw what happened to people who thought they could wait out Superstorm Sandy and panicked when they couldn’t take it. Get ready to leave at a moment’s notice with everything you’ll need to live away from your home for a few days. Talk to your family about your contingency plans. And learn your evacuation route by heart, if you have the time.

Pay attention to the weather forecasts so you’re prepared. Being prepared is the best defense. Don’t blow it off! Take official warnings seriously.

For less severe weather outbreaks, the biggest risk to your house will come from the torrents of rain. If your gutters aren’t clean and your roof is clogged with debris, then water can pool up quickly and cause leaks or even collapses. Now is the time to clean out your gutters and test your drainage system. If it needs more extensive work, consult an exterior designer about new roofing and drainage options. Once the storm hits, it will be too late.

High winds can knock down trees and take down power lines. You may want to consider pruning problematic trees around your house if time allows. But what you definitely should do is make sure that all your outdoor furniture and backyard items are firmly tied down, put away, and stowed in your garage if possible. Don’t let your patio furniture become flying missiles in the gale force winds because they can damage your house or your neighbor’s home in the blink of an eye.

Aside from roof and gutter damage, your windows and your garage door are most vulnerable to severe weather. Board up your windows ahead of time. Also protect your garage door from breakage, because that could lead to serious structural problems and high repair costs.

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When a hurricane’s devastation is widespread, storm-chasing companies from around the country will undoubtedly show up on Long Island’s doorstep, where they will set up shop and hope to make a quick buck. Some of these firms—hopefully a very small minority—will try to take advantage of the homeowner’s desperation and, more despicably, prey on the most vulnerable.

“Many of these companies will be in and out, and in some cases, may not be around or accessible three months down the road in the event service is needed,” notes Sal Ferro, president and CEO of Alure Home Improvements, who has advised Long Island homeowners in the past to be careful when considering who should repair the damage their home may have suffered. “Whoever you choose to work on your home, whether it be Alure or one of the many other reputable contractors on Long Island, please make sure to do your due diligence. Select a company you can count on.”

Ideally, that means a company with an established presence on Long Island and whose references you can check out without a hassle.

“Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us for any of your needs, or for advice, whether for you and your family or for your neighbors in need,” adds Ferro.

Those are words to live by, hurricane or not.

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