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Assessing Tornado or Wind Damage to Your Home

Assessing Tornado or Wind Damage to Your Home


When a tornado touches down in a neighborhood, the effects are often clear. Less newsworthy--and obvious--is the damage caused by straight-line winds. Even a home in good condition is susceptible to high wind damage. The all-important process of safely assessing the damage after a high-wind event of any type can be tricky. Here's what to do.

Steps to Assessing Tornado or Wind Damage to Your Home

1. Be safe

Wait until the winds have died down before you attempt to inspect your home and be on the lookout for downed power lines. If you smell gas, leave the area immediately and call 911 or your local gas utility. It's not worth the danger of navigating downed power lines or possible gas leaks to get to your home. When you enter the area, wear appropriate clothing, including sturdy shoes, long sleeves, long pants, and gloves. Watch out for sharp objects like nails or broken glass.

2. Take photos

Before you enter your home, take photos of the exterior from every angle. Take pictures of the buildings or land around you too.

3. Inspect the exterior of your home

Start by checking out the roof from the ground. Don't use a ladder to inspect the roof until you know the home is structurally sound. If you can get access to a drone with a camera to get a good look - great! They're becoming more common all the time and are a safe way to check on what you can't see from the ground. Next, take a look at the siding, gutters, porches, and deck.

Look for these signs of structural damage:

  • Bowed roofline
  • Broken or cracked window glass
  • Cracks or fissures in stairs, mortar, or masonry
  • Gaps between the main portion of the house and the stairs, porch, or entryway
  • Leaning or cracked chimney
  • Spaces around window or door frames

4. Inspect the interior of your home

If you don't see any damage on the outside, you can attempt to enter your home. If you'd prefer not to do the assessment on your own, bring a contractor or building inspector with you. Or leave the assessment to licensed home inspector.

Look for these signs of structural damage:

  • Bowed or warped walls
  • Cracked plaster or drywall
  • Gaps between walls and floors
  • Popped nails
  • Slanted floors
  • Windows or doors that won't open or close
Exterior Inspection
Interior Inspection

3. Inspect the exterior of your home

Start by checking out the roof from the ground. Don't use a ladder to inspect the roof until you know the home is structurally sound. Great if you can get access to a drone with a camera to get a good look. They're becoming more common all the time and are safe way to check on what you can't see from the ground. Next, take a look at the siding, gutters, porches, and deck.

Look for these signs of structural damage:

  • Bowed roofline
  • Broken or cracked window glass
  • Cracks or fissures in stairs, mortar, or masonry
  • Gaps between the main portion of the house and the stairs, porch, or entryway
  • Leaning or cracked chimney
  • Spaces around window or door frames

4. Inspect the interior of your home

If you don't see any damage on the outside, you can attempt to enter your home. If you'd prefer not to do the assessment on your own, bring a contractor or building inspector with you. Or leave the assessment to licensed home inspector.

Look for these signs of structural damage:

  • Bowed or warped walls
  • Cracked plaster or drywall
  • Gaps between walls and floors
  • Popped nails
  • Slanted floors
  • Windows or doors that won't open or close

5. Take more photos

Get photos of every room including any signs of structural issues and damage to your cabinets, appliances, heating and cooling units, water heater, home décor, and your personal items.

6. Make emergency repairs

After you've documented the damage, you can go ahead and make temporary or emergency repairs like covering holes or broken windows, bracing walls, and removing debris, including wet drywall.

7. Keep records

You will need to have access to all your receipts. If you set up a My McCoy's account and order online through mccoys.com, all your receipts will be accessible to you at any time. If you prefer to shop in person, keep all your receipts together in a folder or envelope.

8. Contact your homeowner's insurance company

Call and find out what your home insurance covers. Wind damage to your roof and other storm damage are likely covered, but water damage may not be. Your insurance company may want to send an adjuster, or they may just need the photos to settle an insurance claim.

9. Be aware

Unfortunately, weather events bring out disreputable companies, including roofing contractors and other trades. If you need a contractor to help you, work with someone you know or get advice from someone you trust. Be cautious about companies or individuals that contact you.

We're Here to Help

Hopefully, your home has little or no damage after a high-wind event. However, whether the extent of repairs is large or small, we're here to help.

We've stood by our neighbors through more than 90 years of storms. Our store teams will do everything they can to get you the tools and supplies such as roofing materials, lumber, and sheathing you need to get your house back in shape. We know there's no place like home.