A post storm 'to do' list

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If high winds damage your roof or heavy rains down a tree, have a list of go-to contractors before the storm hits.

We've got a few hours before Hurricane Irma's full force hits the metro area.  There are a few, last-minute things to take care of and a 'to do' list for after the storm.

First, the storm before us wreaked havoc from the Caribbean Islands, through Florida and now in Georgia.  Take some time and get a few things done before the storm lands in metro Atlanta.

Fill up the car.  Get bottled water in the house. Now let's go outside, move in or pin down things that could fly around the yard and cause damage like lanterns, toys, tables and chairs. All of it. 

Put those solar lights to work inside.  After their charged, bring them in.  Gather up flashlights and candles. Put them in one place so you know where they are. Don't look for this after the fact. Check your battery supply. Charge your tablets, phones, back-up chargers, anything else in case the power the goes out.

Fill up the bathtub with water for flushing toilets and light washing. Don't drink it particularly if you have an older tub that might have lead in it.

Also, this is a good time to know where important documents are like insurance cards. 

Now let's talk about the morning after.  Let's assume the worst right now so that you're prepared. What happens after high winds hit? That's when we see roof and tree damage.  Plan for it. Don't wait until you are desperate for help and a stranger comes to the door telling you he's there to help.

Get roofer and tree cutter referrals from friends and family now.  Even with references to to the Better Business Bureau sit and check look at review.

Make sure general contractors who you might hire to repair damage are licensed. Go to the Secretary of State's website for that.  Quick note: roofers, painters, drywall folks, handymen are not required to have a license.  Get bids. If one is too low, be skeptical.

I'm not done.  Now, get references from the contractor. Get a written contract, not promises. Every detail needs to be there. Ask to see proof of insurance before work begins. Don't pay up front. Divide it into thirds. One third up front, a third mid-way and the last installment when work is completed.  Don't pay in cash. Pay with a credit card so that you can dispute the charge if you need to later.

Finally, be careful of imposters - people pretending to represent insurance companies, FEMA, even law enforcement.  FEMA and law enforcement won't want money.  Their services are free.