Recent Storm Damage Posts

Heavy Rains: Friend or Foe?

6/18/2022 (Permalink)

Roof shingles with rain overlay and SERVPRO logo Protect your home, protect your wallet!

Living in Iowa, we go through periods of time where people pray for rain during dry spells. There is no doubt that rain can be our friend when we are in need of hydration. On the other hand, rain can hold the title of a foe. When heavy rains occur, our homes are vulnerable to water damage. Now, we know that rain can be a breath of fresh air and it’s not logical to think that you can control mother nature. That is why SERVPRO is here to give you some helpful ideas for preventing water damage during heavy rains.


The way that you arrange your landscaping can serve as a preventative measure when considering water damage.

  • Plant trees away from the home so branches are clear from your roof and windows.
  • Create a rain garden so that when large amounts of water drain, they are not draining in the direction of your home.
  • Consider using a higher quality mulch. Certain types of mulch can help prevent water from seeping into your home.


Sealing potential openings for water in your home could be a huge money saver! If your roof has even a tiny bit of damage, the chance of water getting in is higher than if your roof or home is completely sealed off to the elements.

  • Adding window stripping around your doors and windows is a great way to ensure that they are sealed.
  • Get your roof inspected by a professional.


It is common for people’s sump pumps to malfunction when heavy rains occur, we see this a lot as professionals in the restoration business.

  • Get a sump pump battery backup.
  • Maintain your sump pump and check it frequently to ensure everything is working properly.

These precautions are just a few options, there are so many more measures you can take against water damage that will save you a boatload of money in the future!

If water decides to break up with you as a friend and become your foe, call SERVPRO of Decorah today, we are here to help!


Property Inspection After Mother Nature Strikes

5/24/2022 (Permalink)

Heavy storms graphic with SERVPRO logo and stormy photos 100% Chance of Property Inspection

Mother Nature has a mind of her own and sometimes she gets a little angry (we’ve all been there). When storms blow through your neighborhood, the wind, rain, and other elements can be damaging to your home. After a storm, it is important to look your property over to make sure that nothing is affected. It ensures that there is no water seeping into your home, or mold growth in hidden areas. Our homes are very important and usually near and dear to our hearts, so let’s get to it!


When it comes to storm damage, windows and doors are a vulnerable part of your home.

  • Examine them from both the inside and out! Look for any holes, broken panes or hinges, cracks, and frame damage.
  • If your home has aluminum cladding, which is the protective covering outside of your window frame, this is often the first place you’ll see damage.


Because your roof is very exposed to the elements, this is a typical source of damage, in turn letting water run into your home. From ground level, try these tips.

  • Look for raised, missing, or lose shingles. If the wind was severe enough, you may even find some laying on your lawn.
  • Examine your gutters and downspouts, looking for dents or any large debris that may have washed down them.
  • Bonus tip: If you look for denting at dawn or dusk, the shadows will help you see denting.


  • Brick, cement boards, siding, and shingles can all be victims of the storm. While the siding of your house is usually pretty robust, it can still happen.
  • Check for cracking, chops, dents, or other damages.


After you have closely inspected your home after a storm, if you find any signs of damage, the first step you should take is to call your insurance. Once you have done that call SERVPRO so we can assist you right away before further damages occur! We have experience in storm response, and we are here to help!

The Ingredients of a Storm

4/27/2022 (Permalink)

lighting, stormy sky, the words MOISTURE, AIR, and LIFT with a SERVPRO logo The 3 ingredients to a storm!

Storms can bring lightning, tornadoes, flooding, and in turn, can cause structural damage to your home or business. Even more importantly there is the risk for your own safety in some circumstances. In an article written by Jason Clayworth just this month, his data reports that between March and May, the predicted amount of tornadoes is between 1,350 and 1,475. This number is 18% above the average for the U.S. They say that April is predicted to be the most active time for severe weather and tornadoes.


When the warm, moist air meets the dry cool air, a thunderstorm can occur.

For a storm to present itself, there are three things that need to be present: 

  1. Moisture
  2. Unstable air
  3. Lift


Moisture primarily comes from the evaporation of water from the Earth’s surface, on land, but primarily comes from the oceans. 


This is created when cold dry air sits about warm moist air that is near the ground.


This usually occurs due to different air densities. Warmer, less dense air rises up, creating the lift. As the air lifts higher, the storm clouds grow taller, they can sometimes even reach up to 10 miles into the air.

Where it starts to get crazy, is when you have the upward drafts happening at the same time as what they call downdrafts, this is when those dangerous storms can lead to hail, tornadoes, wind, and flooding.

Once the storm begins to run out of warm, moist updrafts, the storm will begin to die off


Despite the ingredients that make up a storm, they always come with the potential for injury or property damage, and that is where SERVPRO of Decorah steps in. If you have storm damage to your home or business, call today, and we will get it back in tip-top shape!

Be Prepared for Severe Weather

4/12/2022 (Permalink)

"be prepared in case of severe weather" with SERVPRO logo, and cloud with lightning bolt Be alert, be smart, be PREPARED!

As I click the buttons on my keyboard to the sound of soft music, I can hear the sound of the wind howling outside my office window. There have been countless posts on social media warning us Iowans about some severe weather that is about to roll in this evening and throughout the night.  

As a Midwesterner, storms are not a new thing to us, and neither should the art of being prepared. With that, sometimes precautionary steps are not always at the forefront of our minds, due to the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Sometimes you just need that extra reminder or resource, so we are happy to provide just that!


  • Fully charge your cell phone
  • Gather flashlight and extra batteries in case of a power outage
  • Have some snacks and water in an easily moveable container
  • Turn your phone on loud for alerts, don't just rely on outdoor sirens
  • Know where your emergency shelter is
  • Stay conscious of your surroundings and get to cover if needed!


We want to remind you that SERVPRO of Decorah is available to assist in post-storm cleanup if necessary! If there is substantial damage to your structure, we will tarp your home to keep the water out while we extract and dry out your space. We know how important it is for you to get back into your warm, cozy house. Give us a call if you are in need after a big storm! We are HERE TO HELP!

We've got Brains, Heart, and Courage!

4/1/2022 (Permalink)

Yellow brick road backround with collage of SERVPRO employees by Wizard of Oz mural Follow the Yellow Brick Road!

Our SERVPRO technicians have ALL the traits the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion were seeking. They come to work every day ready to put their brains, hearts, and courage to the test. A test they pass with flying colors!


SERVPRO of Decorah's technicians are highly trained and certified. They take their work seriously by making sure that they have the knowledge they need to mend people’s homes after a disaster. Their certifications are granted by the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification, also known as the IIRC, and through SERVPRO’s Employee Training Program (ECTP). Some of these include, but are not limited to:

  • Water Damage Restoration Technician (WRT)
  • Applied Microbial Remediation (AMRT)
  • Fire and Smoke Restoration Technician (FSRT)


Restoring homes and cleaning up mess is not something that the faint of heart choose as their line of work. Everyone on our crew has the heart and caring nature to decide to get up every day and come help put people’s lives back together. As a business that is open 24/7, our techs have the task of working on holidays and around the clock in certain situations. Their hard work does not go unnoticed by us, or our customers. As stated in an online review, “I must commend you on the fine young men who did the cleaning. They were very professional and made sure I knew what they were doing and how they were going to do it. They were very personable and easy to talk with.”. We are always appreciative of the heart they put into their work.


Our team most certainly has the courage to tackle the mess life has become after a fire or water problem in your home or business. Courage is made up of strength from within one’s self, and it is evident that SERVPRO employees have this characteristic as they care for each other.  The clean-up they perform can be physically and emotionally draining. We witness their courage each day to continue the process to make life "Like it never even happened," for our customers.

We’ll help you click your heels and get you back home. Call us for help.

Balloons, Frogs, Thundersnow, Oh My!

1/27/2022 (Permalink)

Man out in snow and rain holding a weather balloon and frogs falling from the sky You might not believe it until you see it!

Storms can consist of many things. If you have read our blog, “multiple ways to define a storm”  
then you know the vast number of ways that you can explain the term “storm”. What I bet you didn’t know is that storms have some hidden unique attributes. Let me fill you in on all things storm.


Weather balloons are used to predict the weather. Hundreds of large balloons filled with 300 cubic feet of helium are released each day. Meteorologists all around the world use these balloons to help gauge critical measurements. Sensors will shoot data back down to earth while the balloons drift as high as 20 miles above the earth. You can read more about these interesting tools here.


If you are from the Midwest and even if you’re not, you probably are familiar with the term “blizzard” but have you heard of the term “thundersnow”? People tend to think of lighting and thunder as something that only comes with rain and other storms that happen more frequently in the summer. This is true, they do occur frequently in those circumstances, however, it can lightning and thunder in the winter. It is commonly referred to as “thundersnow” and happens when a mass of air becomes so unstable that it turns over violently, usually due to two extremely different temperatures meeting.


While thundersnow is pretty unique, the phenomenon of it “raining frogs” may have it beat. It is something we often hear as a witty remark, and some people probably consider it a myth. The truth is, it is actually possible for it to rain frogs. This does not happen often, in fact, one of the last times it rained frogs was in 2005 in Serbia. If you don’t believe us, this article helps explain how it is indeed possible for it to rain frogs. 

Now you know, weather and storms have a mind of their own. Very much like in our own lives, things are not always black and white. The next time a storm rolls through if the rain creeps into your basement or a tree falls on your roof causing a big mess, call SERVPRO so we can make it "Like it never even happened."

Floods in Winneshiek County

4/5/2021 (Permalink)

Text that says "Flash Damage Floods" Do you have flood insurance for your home or business?

In August 2016, the Upper Iowa River overflowed after heavy rains and caused flash flooding to many communities in Winneshiek county. At that time, a SERVPRO franchise was not located locally. Fortunately, SERVPRO of Black Hawk County traveled north to help cleanup after this storm disaster. The crew called area hotels, home, for several weeks. They worked around the clock extracting water and drying out homes and businesses. According to FEMA, 1 inch of water can cause $25, 000 of damage to your home!

As we head into Spring and Summer, SERVPRO of Decorah, wants to be a resource and provide some helpful tips to prepare for a storm, and avoid extreme water damage within your control.

5 Tips Before a Flood

  1. Prepare a storm emergency kit.
  2. Get a battery backup for your sump pump.
  3. Find out about your home insurance and what it covers. Get Flood insurance.
  4. Elevate items stored in your basement.
  5. Waterproof important documents.


5 Tips after a Flood

  1. If there is sewer or black water in your home, do not make contact with it.
  2. Avoid electrical devices and sockets if the items or room is wet.
  3. If there is water damage inside your home, call your insurance agent right away.
  4. Take photos or videos to document your damage.
  5. Call a restoration company to help clean and restore your home!

If you decide to clean up on your own, please be careful. Do not use a household vacuum to remove water.

For more tips on what to do until restoration help arrives CLICK HERE.

Prevent Water Damage in the Winter

1/18/2021 (Permalink)

A house and detached garage with snow on the roof and ground. Protect your home from winter damage.

Brr! It’s cold out there.

I said there must be some frozen

Pipes out somewhere (*singing)

It really is getting cold out here in Iowa. Are you ready for the winter season and the potential water damage that comes with it? Every winter, we experience an increase in calls for winter-related water damage such as frozen pipes or water leaks from melting snow. It’s very common. So here are a few things to look for in order to prevent or avoid further damage.


  • Make sure you know what your home owner’s insurance policy covers related to water damage.
  • Clean your gutters and have a professional inspect your roof.
  • Inspect all your windows for any condensations or leaks. Weatherstrip your windows and doors.
  • Inspect your ceilings for any yellow or water stains.
  • Inspect your ceiling or walls for any loose debris or loose paint, it can be an indication of moisture.
  • Remove your garden hose from the outside spigot.
  • Install a frost-proof outdoor spigot.
  • Turn off the water going to the outside.
  • Know where your main water shut-off valve is.
  • Insulate your water pipes. Especially any exposed pipes in an unfinished attic or basement.
  • Open the cabinet, vanity, or closet doors when temperature is below freezing (32°).
  • Keep your home warm and consider putting a low-temperature detector to notify you about potential freezing temps.
  • Run a trickle of water in your sinks.
  • Test your sump pump and make sure it’s working.
  • Install a water leak sensor near your main floor drain.
  • Remove snow away from your home and from your roof!
  • Remove Ice Dams on your home.
  • If traveling this season, keep your furnace on, shut off the water supply, drain water from pipes and appliances, and make sure you have someone check on your home daily.

Water Damage in your home? Call us at (563) 277-1615.

“Totes float and flip over.” (Protecting your content in a flood.)

1/5/2021 (Permalink)

I’ll never forget the factual words Valerie spoke when she described her basement contents. The small town in northeast Iowa had recently experienced flooding and SERVPRO of Decorah was there to rescue their homes and possessions. Valerie believed her precious items and packed away seasonal things were protected in totes as they floated in her water-filled basement. Her despair was evident as she shared the truth with me, “These storage totes weren’t made for this!” She had purchased plastic storage containers that are commonly found in almost any store. Her belief in the product is a shared thought by us all. Not only do we purchase the convenience of the storing and stacking capabilities of these, but we have a sense of protection for the items in them. She knew now that was false.


If you can lift up the sides of a storage tote lid when the end handles are clasped down in the closed fashion, then it is not completely airtight. In this case, small amounts of moisture can get in and with the right (or actually wrong) environment, it will lead to dampness and possible mildew. These conditions will damage the contents of the tote. Some of her totes had baby clothing in them. A fine layer of fuzzy growth and earthy smell had covered the clothing in less than 5 days while sitting in the wet basement. She had been addressing other issues like carpet and furniture, trusting the totes were fine. A few of the totes were floating in the deeper end and one had completely flipped over as friends helped remove the items. Water had flowed in around the lid edges and once turned to the proper position, the water seeped in, drenching the papers and books inside.


Some soaked items can be air-dried and then “ozoned” to remove the smell, while paper products and pictures can be salvaged after being frozen. SERVPRO knows the key is quickness-getting to the materials soon after discovering water damage. Using appropriate storage containers for the items put away along with proper placement is the first step in ‘keeping’ items protected in your home.


We suggest reading up on various brands and reviews of specialized storage containers on the internet. After you purchase, do your own research before packing it up and away. I bought a Remington storage container for my kid’s keepsakes, as I was passing them down to them. I choose Remington after making a list of the qualities I wanted: water and airtight, durable & stackable design with no tipping. This container is made for indoor/outdoor use and can be used in the back of an exposed truck bed, for outdoor gear. I sprayed a great deal of water from a hose on it, attempted to left the sides of the lid and tipped it up and around many times. I stacked two of them and attempted to rock and wiggle to see if they toppled over.


If you discover the tote won’t pass your quality test, take it back and keep on searching! You only get one chance to store and save your memories. Take TIME to be sure they will STAND THE TEST OF TIME in the tote you choose. Call SERVPRO to help you dry out, clean up, and restore.
(recommendation of Remington products is not an endorsement by SERVPRO)

Emergency Preparedness Tips

9/16/2020 (Permalink)

Orange Text on a tan background with the words 'Preparedness Month'. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of a cure

There are a few days every year that make you stop and think, “Today makes all the cold days of winter worthwhile”. For me, those are days look like a morning following an afternoon/evening summer thunderstorm. The ground is still wet, the cloth mat on the back patio step still damp from the rain, and everything is a bright shade of green. You can’t help but take a few moments to watch the birds picking through grass, squirrels bustling up and down trees, and the neighbor’s dog lazily wagging its tail on the front steps. A day like this deserves time set aside to center oneself and appreciate the small things that make it truly special.

For as many beautiful days as we have, Iowa’s uncertain weather keeps us on our toes. On those days, sometimes it is all we can do to keep from thinking about how our homes, families, and other responsibilities will fare through the chaotic stress of the situation. With a little planning, we can remind ourselves that this too, will pass.

The first step of any planning is to set a goal. Why are you making a plan? What will the plan accomplish? Keeping our families safe is the primary goal for most emergency preparedness plans. For me, keeping my wife and our three beautiful cats safe is my priority. Secondary to them, our home is next on the list of importance. Here are some tips for crafting your own plan.

1) Have an emergency kit. It should have a radio (and spare batteries!), basic first aid items, and enough bottled water for your family for a few days. Some basic non-perishable food items are also beneficial, no one thinks or acts well on an empty stomach. Consider adding an extra set of clothes, a flashlight with extra batteries, a deck or two of playing cards to help combat stress.

2) Designate a storm shelter. This is where you keep your emergency kit or at least consider keeping the kit within quick access of this shelter. Good storm shelters will be in a basement, and if not, an interior room with few to zero large exterior windows. During a storm with heavy wind gusts, tree branches or other debris may blow around and could potentially break glass windows. The storm shelter will also ideally be able to accommodate your family in close quarters comfortably.

3) Store outdoor items to prevent loss. If inclement weather is likely, keep as much of your exterior furniture inside and be sure to park your vehicle in your garage or under a roof or shelter, if possible. Hail and strong winds can cause significant damage, so it is best to store items to prevent damage in the first place.

4) Storage for indoor items must be waterproof. Keeping basement or ground level items stored in waterproof containers may help prevent damage if water accumulates inside your home. Some of the best scenarios of flood cleanup SERVPRO has seen have relied heavily upon the preparedness of their homeowners. When your items are secured in waterproof containers, it is much easier to clean the container than try to dry and save potentially sensitive items that have been exposed to water directly.

5) Make sure to keep home landscaping trimmed. If a tree limb is growing over a house, and that limb is torn off during a storm, it is likely to cause damage to the home underneath. By trimming these types of tree limbs ahead of time, you can help control the hazards to your home and property during storms.

6) Consult with your insurance agent regarding coverage. Often times coverage isn’t updated or even inspected after the policy is first signed. Make an annual reminder to at least talk over your policies and make sure that you have the coverage that best suits your needs. Flood coverage & sewer back-up are often separate from what is covered in a generic homeownership policy. Be sure to have a conversation with your agent regarding options for adding more coverage for such events.

7) Pay attention to the weather. Our weather professionals are trained and equipped to predict storms well in advance. Capitalize on their expertise by doing your part and keeping up to date on current and future weather conditions. This can help you determine how best to stay safe during storms.

8) Make THE list! Last, but certainly not least, make a list of emergency service contacts ahead of time and keep that list easily available for your family. We suggest adding SERVPRO of Decorah to your list after 911, emergency, and non-emergency numbers of local police, hospitals, and fire departments. Ask your insurance agent how best to contact them if a loss occurs after hours. Plumbers, contractors, and other essential services would be an asset on such a list. It’s always handy to have a good list of contacts available for easy reference when you’re dealing with a stressful situation!

A little planning can go a long way to preventing stress and fear. SERVPRO will always be there to help on those days when the chaos is too much. Better yet, let us help you prepare. As is the case with so many things, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of a cure.

Ask about our Emergency Ready Plans (ERP) for your home or business.

From all of us at SERVPRO of Decorah, we encourage you to enjoy each day and taking a few minutes here and there to help prepare for days that aren’t quite as calm as others.