Triangle Troubleshooter

Troubleshooter: First, call your insurance agent

Staff WriterApril 20, 2011 

Let's talk trees, because people have questions about what to do after Saturday's storms.

If a tree falls in your yard, whom do you call?

Your insurance agent.

That's according to Wayne Schindler, Raleigh parks superintendent, who handles downed-tree issues. The insurance company should instruct you about what to do next, such as whether to document damage or how to hire a tree removal service.

If your neighbor's tree falls into your yard?

Call your insurance company, he said. Your insurance company will resolve it with your neighbor's agency.

The City of Raleigh is only cleaning up trees that fell on city property, he said.

The N.C. Department of Transportation will pick up storm-related debris that is placed at the curb and separated into two piles - vegetative and construction. Debris should be cut in 5- to 6-foot sections.

Appliances, furniture and household hazardous materials will not be collected. Pickup schedules are still being determined. Visit ncdot.gov under "news."

The N.C. Baptist Men group is helping people cut up debris and make temporary roof repairs. To register your needs, go to Carolina Pines Baptist Church, 2655 S.Saunders Street, Raleigh 27603.

The N.C. Department of Insurance issued insurance tips for those dealing with property damage. They include contacting your insurance agency immediately, documenting the damage and checking your policy before hiring tree removal services. Call 800-546-5664 or 919-807-6750. Visit ncdoi.com.

Beware of crooks

Lots of people will be out with chain saws in hard-hit areas to make money. Though the majority of tree companies are legitimate, you need to be careful about people taking advantage of the situation.

"Scammers use natural disasters and other tragedies to prey on desperate, unsuspecting victims," Attorney General Roy Cooper said in a news release offering consumer tips.

First, get three estimates before you hire someone. Don't pay for work up front. Get the deal in writing. And once the work is complete, inspect it to make sure you are satisfied before you pay.

To check out a tree company, visit www.easternnc.bbb.org or www.ncdoj.gov .

Homeowners need to remember that state environmental regulations often make it illegal to burn vegetative debris.

"Although we sympathize with the plight of those suffering from storm damage, we don't want people to cause more problems while trying to get rid of debris," said Sheila Holman, director of the N.C. Division of Air Quality. "Smoke from outdoor fires is unhealthy to breathe."

Instead, homeowners are encouraged to grind debris into wood chips.

Homeowners may burn some yard trimmings. But first, check with the Division of Air Quality by calling 919-733-3340 or visit www.ncair.org.

Feed the Need

Last week, I announced a challenge for The N&O's Feed the Need project, which raises money for the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina.

In light of Saturday's storms, I'm making a slight change. If you donate $100 to the Food Bank for disaster relief, you can also be entered in the drawing to have lunch with our sports columnists Luke DeCock, J.P. Giglio and Caulton Tudor.

For a $100 donation, your name will be entered into a drawing for lunch. To increase your odds, donate more. Your name will be entered once for every $100 you donate. Give $300, and get three entries. Give $1,000, and get 10 entries.

Three winners will be selected to have lunch at The Raleigh Times on a mutually agreed upon date.

To donate, visit www .foodbankcenc.org and click on NC Tornadoes 2011; or mail a check to or drop off one at the Food Bank at 3808 Tarheel Drive, Raleigh, NC 27609. Designate the check for Feed the Need or disaster relief.

Then send email to troubleshooter@newsobserver.com with your name, the amount donated and your phone number to enter the drawing, which will be held April 29. Get donations in by 5 p.m. April 28.

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