Our network

Don't Hire A Hurricane Huckster | Weather

Title (Max 100 Characters)

Don't Hire A Hurricane Huckster

BETHESDA, MD (WUSA) -- It's almost impossible to know how many trees Irene tore up. Fair to say thousands across the Mid-Atlantic. And potentially scores of homes.
What do you do if it's YOUR home?

You may want to start your work well before the storm. Tree experts say certain types of trees are especially vulnerable to high winds... and so are trees struggling to hold on to a steep hillside.

"The tulip poplars and the trees on steep grades don't have as good root system wind comes through the wrong way and just blows them out of the ground," says Craig Goebel of Colesville Lawn and Limb.

Just off McArthur Boulevard near Sibley Hospital in Northwest... neighbors stare in horror at a tulip poplar down on a home. Stan Marcus just had a tree surgeon out to look at a huge tree that hung over his house nearby  The surgeon said it was in bad shape and Marcus had the tree cut down -- a week before Irene "We were lucky," he says, it could have been a disaster.

Consumer advocates say you need to be careful who you hire after the storm. Eric Friedman, director of the Montgomery County Office of Consumer Protection, says hit and run contractors follow the storms. He says do not hire them. Don't hire people who come banging at your door without a license and insurance. He says many have criminal records, do shoddy work and can defraud you.

Consumer advocates say you want to look for contractors who a licensed, bonded and insured. Licensed, so you know they have some idea what they're doing. Bonded and insured so if someone gets hurt, or they do more damage -- you don't get hit with the bill.

If it's not emergency work, you want to get three different bids -- and maybe look at something like Consumer's Checkbook, or talk to your neighbors to get someone with a good reputation.

Just getting multiple bids can save you thousands of dollars.

Written and Reported by Bruce Leshan
9News Now & wusa9.com