As the country is gripped by images of the flooding in Houston from Hurricane Harvey and trying to come up with the best ways to aid our friends and neighbors there, evaluating your own preparation for a natural disaster is timely and appropriate.

Hurricanes and tornadoes often destroy large commercial properties. Are you prepared for damage to yours?

Here at Spacemall Storage in Oaks, we’re lucky enough to sit on a ridge and probably not in any immediate danger of flooding. But if you aren’t storing with us, it might be a good idea to determine how safe your storage facility and your individual unit are from natural disasters.

When selecting a storage unit, it can be easy to overlook the potential for damage from hurricanes, tornadoes or massive winter storms, but all of these can pose a danger to your storage items. While the first priority in any natural disaster should be preserving the lives of your family and friends, no one wants to lose everything.

Here are some thing to look for when choosing your storage unit:

Is my storage facility in a flood zone?”

Spacemall Storage in Oaks is less than 1/2 mile from the Schulykill River, but we are not in any danger of flooding. We’re up on the bluff overlooking the river, so the amount of rain required to cause flooding here is measured in the tens of feet. That isn’t to say it’s impossible to flood, but it’s very unlikely.

If you walk our property in Oaks, you’ll notice several large drainage grates and a slight slope to the pavement, both designed to pull water off the parking lot and away from the storage units.

And we are most assuredly not in a flood zone.

How does my storage facility deal with major snowstorms?

In Pennsylvania, knowing how your storage facility reacts to several feet of snow can be just as important as knowing where the flood zones are.

Having made it through three Pennsylvania winters now, I can tell you that our maintenance crew starts plowing snow as soon as four or more inches have accumulated. The team will usually not have the entire lot ready for tenants to come to their units until about 24 hours after the snow has stopped falling, possibly 48 hours in cases of multiple feet of snow, but they will be working at it continuously.

Our snow removal team will use small Bobcats and other mini-plows to get in close to the building and will remove as much snow as possible from the property. there might be huge mounds of snow in unoccupied spaces to clear the drive aisles, but snow is not ignored or left to melt.

What other natural disaster is the area prone to?

Thankfully, Oaks is not particularly prone to wildfires, earthquakes or tornadoes, but if your storage facility is in an area where these things are common, talk to the facility about what measures are in place to counteract the natural disasters. Whether it’s keeping brush cut down to avoid fire hazards or engineering buildings to deal with earthquakes, make sure you know what natural disaster risks your storage facility faces.

Are you insured?

In the event of a natural disaster, most storage facilities aren’t going to have insurance that covers the loss of your stuff. That’s your responsibility.

When you rent a storage unit, the very next visit or call should be to your insurance agent. Most home owners’ and renters’ insurance covers items stored offsite, but don’t take my word for it. Ask your insurance agent what’s covered and what isn’t and what you need to do in case of a natural disaster.

After all, navigating a disaster like Harvey is scary enough with losing everything. Be sure you are as prepared as possible!