College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences; Public Service and Agriculture

Homeowners can take steps to lessen damage ahead of Hurricane Dorian


Clemson – With Hurricane Dorian breathing down the necks of Coastal South Carolinians, Clemson Cooperative Extension Service experts are providing resources that can help homeowners prepare for the wind and rain and make returning to their homes a little less treacherous.

Clemson Extension has created a website filled with practical advice on how to prepare for a host of disasters, including flooding and hurricanes and will also be using its social media networks to get helpful information to the people who need it. Follow Clemson Extension Facebook or @CUESNews on Twitter to receive the latest tips and advice before, during and after the storm. Clemson Extension’s Home and Garden Information Center can also help with hurricane preparation information.

In the meantime, there are some steps homeowners can take to protect their properties and landscapes:

Prepare trees

Clemson horticulture experts are offering advice to homeowners to prepare their landscapes for devastating winds.

“Property owners need to look for defects that could allow strong winds to cause branch or trunk failures,” said Bob Polomski, Clemson Extension horticulturist. “Trees with defects should be removed by the property owner rather than by the storm. People need to pay particular attention to mature trees, as the risk of wind-induced failure increases with age. Also, trees planted in groups tend to tolerate strong winds better than individual trees.”

If a storm causes flooding, Gary Forrester, Clemson Extension environmental horticulturist and Master Gardener coordinator for Horry County, advises people to exercise patience and not rush out to repair their landscapes.

“The first thing to remember is allow the landscape to dry,” Forrester said. “If homeowners begin working soil while it is still wet, they can do further damage to the soil structure, especially soils high in clay content.”

To help soils dry, remove as much debris and mulch as possible from around plants to allow sunlight to get in.

Now is the time to prepare landscapes for hurricane season.
Now is the time to prepare landscapes for hurricane season.

Clear pond inlets and outlets

Clemson Extension agents say there are simple steps residents can take before a storm to help ensure that there is nothing inhibiting the flood management capabilities of stormwater ponds, which are designed to receive runoff and mitigate flooding.

“People tend to forget that is their purpose, and they often think they’re just aesthetic features,” said Amy Scaroni, program coordinator for Carolina Clear, Clemson Extension’s statewide stormwater education program. “So they could be temporarily managing them in a way that’s not allowing the capacity for additional flood waters coming in.”

First, make sure that all inlets and outlets, which control flow moving into the pond and flow moving out, are clear of vegetation, sentiment or debris that could block flow into and out of the pond. Next, community residents should ensure that storm drains and ditches around neighborhoods are clear to allow water to flow smoothly to the stormwater pond designed to receive it.

Fill well pressure tanks

Cal Sawyer, Extension water resources specialist says homeowners with wells should fill up their well’s pressure tank as much as possible and turn off electricity to the well. Residents with an aerobic septic system should also turn off electricity for that system. No special preparations are recommended for conventional septic systems.

If possible, they should also locate the log/well report completed when your well was installed and store a copy of it in a safe place that will be accessible if you evacuate. Also, locate contact information for licensed well drillers in the area. If possible, contact a driller before evacuating if you think your well will need service immediately after the flood.

“With some simple preparation methods ahead of a potential evacuation, residents who rely on wells for their drinking water can save valuable time and lower the risk of illness due to flood-related water-borne pathogens,” said Cal Sawyer, water resources specialist.

Safely store important documents

Agricultural producers need to be sure they have all important documents safeguarded.

This includes having updated inventories of all possessions — business and personal — in the event insurance claims are filed once the storm passes.

“An inventory will prove the value of any possessions that are damaged or destroyed,” said Nathan Smith, Clemson professor of agribusiness production.

An inventory consists of a description of each item, including model and serial numbers, as well as when items were bought and how much each item cost. It also is a good idea to have photos and/or videos to accompany such an inventory.

Inventories can be kept in both digital and printed forms. Smith said it’s important to keep up-to-date copies in a secure place.

“Valuable papers should be kept in watertight, fireproof, locked containers,” he said. “This will help ensure access in the event of a disaster.”

Scott Mickey, Clemson farm business consultant, said people should consider scanning these documents and saving them on the cloud.

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