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Michigan Homeowner’s Windstorm Preparation Guide

how to prepare for summer windstorms in michigan

In our article Top Windiest and Stormiest Cities and Towns in Michigan, you would have read that we have 30 days of thunderstorm activity annually. The top wind speed was in Van Buren Township on June 26, 2020, with 87-mph winds causing $1,000,000 in property damage.

It’s clear that windstorms warrant our full attention to protect our homes and our families. Preparation is an essential part of that protection.

We’ve developed three checklists to help you: windstorm preparation, steps to take during a windstorm, and after a windstorm. Plus, we’ve provided a list to guide your efforts in preparing an emergency supply kit.

Checklist #1: Windstorm Preparation

Sound home maintenance practices are always helpful in preparing for windstorms and other weather events. Here are our recommendations covering critical regular maintenance items and vital actions to take immediately before a storm.

  • Trim Your Trees: Keep your trees trimmed and remove dead branches and dying trees. Windstorms can uproot trees and propel branches at your home.
  • Keep Your Roof in Good Shape: Wind can pick up loose shingles, ripping them off and exposing the wood beneath to rain. Replace the roof when needed.
  • Keep Backup Fuel on Hand: A functioning grill can become very useful should power be lost. Likewise, a chainsaw can remove downed trees and branches.
  • Consider Adding an Emergency Generator: A generator can provide power for refrigerators, computers, and cell phones. You may also consider investing in a whole-home generator and a battery backup sump pump.
  • Protect Your Home When Power is Out: Be ready to turn off the power to your home at the circuit breaker or fuse box. Power surges when electricity is being restored can cause damage.
  • Create a Home Emergency Plan: Document and share with your family what to do when a storm hits. Also, review any work and school emergency plans to know what to expect.
  • Secure Outdoor Items: The wind can pick up anything outdoors and slam it into your home. Before the storm, secure lawn furniture, picnic tables, patio umbrellas, and anything else that could become airborne.
  • Park in the Garage: Hopefully, the wind won’t be strong enough to lift your car, but it can do significant damage with debris. Park in the garage but make sure you know how to manually open it during power outages.
  • Track the Storm: Use a battery-powered radio or a cell phone weather app to keep up. The app can also provide alerts and storm warnings to help you take emergency action in time.
  • Create an Emergency Shelter: Create a designated area in your home and stock it with emergency supplies. Select a first-floor interior room away from windows or a basement area.

Emergency Supply Kit Essentials

An emergency shelter will prove extremely valuable during any storms. The next thing is to take the time to pull together an emergency supply kit. This will also go a long way toward helping you feel far more secure once you head to your shelter.

Here are our recommendations on what to put in your kit.

creating a checklist of emergency supplies
  • Three days of food for family and pets
  • First aid kit
  • Bottled water
  • Battery-powered radio
  • Candles and matches or lighter
  • Flashlight and lots of batteries
  • Battery-powered cell phone charger
  • Sleeping bags and pillows
  • Blankets
  • Medications and prescription drugs
  • Multi-purpose tool
  • Extra cash

Have a similar kit ready to go on the road in case you need to evacuate your home. You may also need to add clothing and personal hygiene items.

Checklist #2: During a Windstorm

The steps you take now to prepare for a windstorm will help keep you and your family safe. Here are the keys to riding out the storm in safety.

  • Go to Your Emergency Shelter: Gather your family and your emergency kit and go to your home’s emergency shelter area. If some family members are out as the storm arrives, call them to ensure they are finding safety wherever they are.
  • On the Road? Seek Shelter Immediately: Find a safe place to park your car. Do not drive during the storm. Underground parking garages are superb in these situations.
  • Track the Storm: Monitor the radio or weather app to keep up with the storm’s progress. Only leave your shelter when the storm has passed. 

Checklist #3: After a Windstorm

Even after the storm has passed, you and your family may still be in considerable danger. Here are the key items to watch.

  • Conduct a Family Check-in: If some members of your family weren’t able to make it home, conduct a check-in via cell phone.
  • Watch for Natural Gas Leaks: Gas leaks can be very dangerous. If you smell gas, leave the area immediately and notify the gas company.
  • Avoid Downed Power Lines: Electricity can kill. Don’t go near downed power lines. Report them at once to your utility company.
  • Secure your Food Supply: Food in your emergency shelter should be ok. Keep refrigerator doors closed, even without power, and food frozen for up to two days.
  • Document the Damage: Review the roof, siding, and windows, along with anything outside. Take photos of the damage and start a log to record the details.
  • Notify Your Insurance Company: If you discover damage, get in contact with your insurance company to begin the claims process.

Windstorms in Our Hometowns

In our article on Windiest Cities in Michigan, we dug into the storm winds for the locations where we have offices.

In Grand Rapids and Kent County, the storm on June 10, 2020, saw winds of 65 mph with $100,000 in property damage, as well as downed trees and power lines.

Detroit and Wayne County saw winds of 55 mph during a thunderstorm on June 26, 2020. That brought down the usual trees and power lines.

Traverse City’s thunderstorm on June 10, 2020, brought high winds up to 54 mph with trees down and flooding.

Toledo experienced 64-mph winds at the airport on Feb. 24, 2019, along with downed trees and power lines.

You can tell that high winds can cause serious damage. 

Ensure Your Home’s Safety After a Windstorm: FSM Can Help!

Employee meeting with homeowner about foundation issues

After a windstorm, the structural integrity of your home can be compromised, especially if there are pre-existing foundation issues.

While windstorms themselves don’t necessarily cause foundation problems, they can certainly exacerbate existing ones by shifting the soil and increasing water infiltration around your home’s foundation.

Foundation Systems of Michigan is here to help. Our team of experts can assess any damage and identify potential problems that may have been worsened by the storm.

Schedule a free inspection with FSM today to ensure your home remains safe and structurally sound. Let us help you protect your investment and restore peace of mind.

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    Windstorm FAQs

    Look for visible cracks, uneven floors, water seepage, and other signs of structural distress.

    An inspection can identify hidden damage and prevent minor issues from becoming major problems, ensuring your home’s safety and stability.

    Yes, uprooted trees and shifting roots can disturb the soil and impact your foundation’s stability.

    Leah Leitow

    Leah Leitow

    Content Writer

    Leah is a Content Writer for Groundworks with nearly ten years of experience working in the foundation repair industry. Her experience ranges from working with homeowners to find the right solution to training inspectors and staff. In her background as a Michigan journalist, she gained invaluable insight into people's lives throughout our state. Leah lives in metro Detroit with her husband and two sons.

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