Tag Archives: storm

The Calm After the Storm

May 4, 2015 by

Article originally appeared in Omaha Home May/June 2015

The spring storm season has the potential to introduce the most unpredictable of problems for homeowners. We checked in with Lisa and Regi Powell of Powell Insurance, a Farmers Insurance agency, for their best advice on how to navigate the process if your home sustains storm damage.

The Most Common Mistake?

Lisa: “Automatically turning in a claim. Every claim stays on your record for three years, even if you end up later saying, ‘Never, mind, it’s not worth collecting on it after my deductible.’ Many people may not understand that it is still counted as a claim. We recommend getting an estimate outside of the insurance process in order to make the best decision about whether or not to proceed with an actual claim.”

Regi: “This is also important because claims frequency can effect your premiums, even your eligibility. When in doubt, talk to your agent first. That’s what we’re here for.”

How to Best Protect Your Rights and Your Property?

Regi: “Each state has a different statute of limitations on claims. Get a good estimate from a reputable contractor. That cost is reimbursed in the process if a claim is, indeed, later filed. You wouldn’t want to find much later on that, for example, you have water problems from a damaged roof. Now you’re faced with bigger, costlier issues.”

Lisa: “Water is one of the things you should be most concerned about as a homeowner. It is stubborn, persistent. If you don’t fix a roof after a storm, over time water leaks or damage may occur. This water damage may not be covered if you didn’t take the proper steps to repair the original storm damage.”

Okay, So Now it’s Time to Make Repairs

Lisa: “We have what we call a Preferred Provider program…a list of trusted contractors. A lot of companies have similar programs. The financial relationship is still between the homeowner and the contractor, but those that make it onto our list have gone through a thorough vetting process. They’ve jumped through a lot of hoops to make the cut and be on that list.”

Regi: “And don’t forget some of the simplest tips when making repair decisions. Talk to your friends and neighbors. What great experiences have they had with contractors? Who do they trust? If some guy shows up in your driveway offering to do work, check his truck’s license plate. If it’s from Florida or Alabama…well, there are a lot of storm-chasers out there and they, like any business, can be all over the map in terms of ability, reliability, even honesty.”

What Does My Insurance Company Need to Know?

Regi: “Keep them updated throughout the process. Your contractor may point out, for example, that you need to replace a skylight after, say, some hail damage. But if that sky light wasn’t identified in the original adjusting process, it causes problems later. If additional damage is found, let’s be sure to get that into the claim so you will be paid accordingly.”

Lisa: “Which is a good reminder to take a comprehensive approach to any claim. Our adjustors are trained to inspect the entire property. Do you have a pool? A tool shed? Ask your claims adjuster to inspect your entire property, not just the roof or siding. An adjuster may often find damage you didn’t
know existed.”

And Before the Storm?

Lisa: “Perhaps our most important role is to make sure you have the appropriate type and amount of coverage along with deductibles that work for you before a storm hits, before an auto accident, before a fire.”

Regi: “It’s just human nature to believe that bad things will never happen to you, but there’s a reason we send update offers and call people to review policies. That’s one of the tougher parts of this job—a homeowner learning too late that their policy didn’t meet their needs.”

Final Thoughts?

Lisa: “There are so many factors that go into recovering from storm damage. We recognize that it’s a stressful time. This is your home. It is important to you…and it’s
important to us.”

Regi: “It is really gratifying to help people through these things. Just like being in an auto accident, storms can be traumatic and you may have more important things to worry about than the roof over your head. This is what your insurance agent lives for. When in doubt—and especially if you’re in any way confused about the process—call your agent. That’s what we’re here for.”

CalmAfterStorm

Jim Flowers

August 27, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Dapper Jim Flowers, with his trademark moustache and buttonhole flower, is a fixture in people’s lives after 31 years as an Omaha television meteorologist. This husband and father of two has invested himself in the community as a public speaker, Knights of Columbus volunteer, and churchgoer. He and his wife, Barb, are members of Mary Our Queen parish.

It all made the ugly rumors that surfaced about him after WOWT did not renew his contract last December more unsettling. With Flowers suddenly off the air and no official word from station management explaining his absence (due to contractual reasons), anonymous social media speculation filled the information void. The chatter was mostly innocuous, but some alleged Flowers had been caught in a 2012 FBI sting operation targeting a local massage parlor fronting for a prostitution ring. It’s not the image a public figure like Flowers can afford, especially when looking for a new job.

Flowers, who flatly denies involvement in any illegal activity, believes a parlor client used his name when procuring sexual services. Unfortunately, Flowers found his good name sullied when the sting broke.

“…in social media, people can say anything about anyone they please without identifying themselves or taking responsibility…just because it’s on the internet doesn’t mean it’s the truth.”

Despite the cloud, Flowers landed at KMTV. He debuted there June 3 as part of a long-term contract he reached with the station, thus making him perhaps the only on-camera talent to have worked at each of Omaha’s three major network affiliates.

The Ohio native and Penn State University grad came to Omaha in 1982 to work at KETV from a TV weathercaster post in South Carolina. After 10 years, he moved to WOWT. He was there 20 years, the last several as chief meteorologist.

He says he and his wife found Omaha to be “a great place to raise kids.” Even though their boys are now men, he says all the roots he and Barb put down here and all the relationships they built here make it a hard place to shake.

Barb and Jim relaxing at home.

Barb and Jim relaxing at home.

But in the wake of what happened over the winter, he seriously considered moving to another market.

With his exit from WOWT fueling the gossip mill, he posted Facebook and TVSpy responses that reflected his resolve to lay the tittle tattle to rest.

“…I have never been involved in a massage parlor prostitution investigation. I have not been arrested, questioned, or told by the authorities that I am a suspect [a statement confirmed by Omaha Magazine with Omaha Police Department public information officer Lt. Darci Tierney]…those lies have been very hurtful to me, my wife of 34 years, and our family…I appreciate the loyalty of the many fans who have continued to support me, and I want to assure them that there is nothing behind those rumors.”

He more extensively addressed the situation in June 3rd guest spots on the Todd-N-Tyler radio show and KM3’s own, The Morning Blend.

“Doing that interview with Todd-N-Tyler literally put an end to it,” he says.

But when the rumors were still fresh, they stung. “When this first happened, I was like my life has been an open book, people know me, who’s going to believe this stuff? Obviously, people do, and that was the surprising part of the whole thing. Some folks want to bring people down, for whatever reason. It’s the human psyche.”

“When this first happened, I was like my life has been an open book, people know me, who’s going to believe this stuff? Obviously, people do, and that was the surprising part of the whole thing.”

His initial reaction was to get mad.

“The first thing you feel is anger because you know you’re not a part of it. That’s what’s frustrating. It had an effect more on my wife and my family, especially my two boys. My two boys were angry…They wanted to find out who used my name, how the stuff got out there.”

His wife has had his back the whole way. She offered this statement about the rumors: “I knew it wasn’t true. It was hurtful to me and my family to think that people would believe those rumors about Jim. I would like to thank those that supported us with positive comments.”

Flowers, an outdoorsman who loves fishing, hunting, and chasing storms, isn’t the type to run scared, but there was little he could do about this.

He gained insight into how his name got dragged into the mud when he contacted authorities, none of whom could speak to the specific case, then active in the judicial system. However, they did lay out a likely scenario.

“I was told by the Omaha Police Department’s public information officer Lt. Darci Tierney that, in general, this is the way it works. The guys that go [to massage parlors] wind up on a list. They don’t use anything that will identify themselves. They don’t use credit cards, they don’t use checkbooks, and they don’t use their real names. She said, ‘Obviously, someone decided to use your name and guess what, now you’re a part of it.’ I said, ‘Is there anything I can do?’ and she said ‘no.’”

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He says the local FBI office and U.S. Attorney Jan Sharp confirmed the same.

Unfortunately for Flowers, someone used his familiar name. It comes with the territory of being a
public figure.

“Our exposure to this kind thing is not unusual, but this form and how it took off seemed to have a life of its own,” he says. “The constraints that exist for print, television, and radio don’t exist for social media. There are no checks and balances out there. So if there’s a lesson, it’s that, in social media, people can say anything about anyone they please without identifying themselves or taking responsibility. But just because it’s on the internet doesn’t mean it’s the truth.”

He’s satisfied with how he’s managed the incident. “You take the high ground and have faith that things will work out. The night before I went on The Blend and Todd-N-Tyler, I told my wife, ‘I’m starting tomorrow [on KM3], and I feel really excited about it. There’s all these opportunities. But the one thing that’s still out there is this whole rumor thing. I don’t know where, I don’t when, and I don’t know how, but at some point in time this thing will be put to rest.”

He says he and Barb put their “very strong faith in God” that this bad dream would disappear. “I’ve had people compliment me and say you handled it professionally.”

KMTV General Manager Chris Sehring is pleased how it all worked out, too. “Jim’s a great guy, and we are thrilled to finally have him on our KMTV Weather Alert team.”

“You take the high ground and have faith that things will work out…I don’t know where, I don’t when, and I don’t know how, but at some point in time this thing will be put to rest.”

Though Sehring couldn’t comment on what steps the station took or on how much the incident played in its hiring decision, he did say, “Journal Broadcast Group is second to none in its commitment to integrity and the highest ethical standards. I still believe we live in a society where one is innocent until proven guilty…It’s truly a shame Jim and his family have had to endure these unsubstantiated rumors and malicious speculation. After all, it could happen to any of us.”

Both Sehring and Flowers are focused on making KM3, currently in last place in the ratings, number one. Flowers helped bring both KETV and WOWT to the top spot and feels confident he can work magic a third time.

“I’ve been down this road before. I know what it takes to win,” says Flowers. “Whoever wins weather in Omaha wins the ratings; that’s what it boils down to. You can ask every general manager, and they’ll tell you the same thing. It’s not only in Omaha; it’s in a lot of weather-sensitive markets. I didn’t decide that, the public did.”

He feels his experience and attention to detail set him apart from other weathercasters in this market.

So do his fishing skills. Once a competitive bass tournament champion, he takes his boat and fishing gear out these days purely for relaxation. With the rumors behind him, he’s forecasting nothing but clear skies and calm waters ahead.

Read more of Leo Adam Biga’s work at leoadambiga.wordpress.com.

Diagnosing a Troubled Tree

June 20, 2013 by

When diagnosing a troubled tree, there are many variables that come into play. What species of tree are we dealing with? When and where was it planted? What problematic symptoms does it exhibit? One should look at the surroundings of the plant. Construction and soil compaction can play a huge role in a tree’s longevity. Weather is also a big factor. Storm damage, such as hail, can wreak havoc on a tree’s well-being.

The biggest issue we see is poor initial planting. Many trees are planted too deep or too high in the soil. A tree can survive in these stressful conditions for approximately 4-5 years before showing signs of decline. Watering can be a big issue, too. Most trees need 1” of water each week. Not enough or too much water can be detrimental to the tree’s growth.

When treating a diseased tree, the right diagnosis is key. Only a certified arborist will know which fungicide is required to treat a fungal problem, or which insecticide will best treat a tree infested with pests. Using the proper treatment application method is also essential and may depend on the severity of tree damage. When you see a tree exhibiting signs of trouble, it’s best to call a professional arborist right away. Likely, the tree has been in distress for some time. Better yet, employ a regular tree service to service and treat your trees year-round, before the trouble starts.

For tree analysis or treatment, call on the professionals at Terry Hughes Tree Service, voted #1 Tree Service in Best of Omaha™ 2013! Visit hughestree.com for more info.

There’s No Place Like Home

April 25, 2013 by

If you’ve spent time in the Midwest, you are no stranger to tornados. Many of us could share a story of “the Big One” or a storm we’ll never forget. Hopefully, with stories come memories of survival and preparedness. The following tips can help you prepare for when the next tornado strikes.

Who’s at Risk?

Tornadoes strike most often between March and June in the central U.S., but they’ve been reported in all 48 continental states, at all times of the year. Older adults need to take additional actions, like having their medications accessible and giving themselves plenty of time to get to shelter.

What to Do if a Tornado is Coming

Seek shelter immediately! If you’re away from home, your best bets are basements or interior corridors of office buildings, tunnels, or underground parking lots. Avoid auditoriums, upper stories of office buildings, trailers, and parked vehicles. And stay away from windows. If you’re out in the open, lie flat in a ditch or other low-lying area and protect your head. Stay away from poles and overhead lines.

If you’re driving, drive at right angles to the tornado’s path. If you can’t escape the path of the tornado, get out of the vehicle to avoid being overturned and crushed. If you’re at home, head for the basement and take cover under a heavy table or workbench. If you don’t have a basement, go into a windowless room in the center of the house. If that’s not possible, stay away from windows and cover yourself with a rug for protection against flying glass and debris.

Know the Difference Between a Watch and a Warning

A tornado watch means conditions are right for the formation of a tornado. Stay alert, and be prepared to take shelter. A tornado warning means a tornado has been spotted in your area. Take shelter immediately!

What to Prepare

Here are suggested items for your emergency kit: One gallon water per person per day for at least three days; a three-day supply of non-perishable food; battery-powered or hand-crank radio and a NOAA weather radio with tone alert, and extra batteries; flashlight and extra batteries; first aid kit including a whistle to signal help; prescription medications and glasses, including medical equipment like test strips or syringes, if needed; pet food and extra water for your pet; a sleeping bag or warm blanket; change of clothing, including a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, and sturdy shoes; fire extinguisher; matches in a waterproof container; personal hygiene items; moist towelettes, garbage bags, and plastic ties for personal sanitation; disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer; and paper cups and plates, plastic utensils, paper towels, and a can opener.

FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) recommends preparing a survival kit of basic needs (food, water, etc.) for 72 hours for the home and car. Visit ready.gov for a complete list of emergency preparedness items. When a tornado strikes, there is often little time to gather items or get to a store. Make your own kit and store in a plastic tote, or purchase a kit from National Safety Council, Nebraska for $45 or $69 at safenebraska.org or call 402-896-0454.

Adapted from National Safety Council. NSC makes no guarantee as to and assumes no responsibility for the correctness, sufficiency, or completeness of such information or recommendations. Other or additional safety measures may be required under particular circumstances. For more information, visit safenebraska.org.