How to Deal with the After Effects of a Hurricane

Any tropical storm or hurricane can cause chaos in your city, neighborhood, and house. The best way to deal with the after-effects of a major storm is to be prepared. Here are a few tips to help you in the event your area has been affected by a named tropical storm.

Insurance

Call your insurance agency as soon as you notice any damage to your property. They should have a 1-800 claim hot-line number listed on your policy. Sometimes without power it can take a couple of days to see the full extent of the damage to your house, so be sure to call for each and every item you notice. If you notice a floor buckle one day, then a water spot the next, do not hesitate to call in each claim as you spot the damage. Expect delays if large areas of your town/city were affected by the hurricane, but do not hang up; be patient and they will answer your call. It can be frustrating but your insurance company is the first company you want to contact if your house has been affected by the storm.

Contractors

Your insurance company will have a preferred contractor contact you once you make your claim; or they will provide you with the name and number of a local contractor that is affiliated with the insurance company. Try to set up an appointment to have your damage evaluated as soon as possible. Even if you think it is just a water spot, it could be worse than you realize.

Mold growing in the insulation (and your entire house) could become contaminated in a matter of days. The restoration contractors will have a humidity meter that determines the amount of damp you have. The contractors will then assess which areas can be dried out (if you have power) or pulled out if necessary. They are working on your behalf so even if they rip up your new hardwood floors, stay calm. It is better to pay a high deductible and have to wait months for the repairs than to live with mold and risk the chance of not only becoming ill, but making it more difficult to sell or rent your house in the future.

Television

Check your cable or satellite connection (if you have power) and contact your cable or satellite company as soon as you notice a problem. If you suffered a hurricane, then chances are your satellite dish was affected, possibly even knocked down. Let your dish network know if the satellite dish caused any damage to your roof, especially if the screws become loose and let in water which could damage your property.

Phone

Hopefully you were smart enough to break out your corded phone in which you could use when the power goes out. The cell networks will be over-crowded so phoning someone can become a nightmare. Often phones do not even ring and go straight to voice-mail, so consider texting which is often the easier route to get a message across.

Food Supplies

Now is the time to take advantage of your non-perishables. Break open the canned tuna, tinned beans, and tortilla chips. You can even make guacamole if you have seasoning powder available. Living without milk, juice and eggs is not the end of the world. Try different things and you will be amazed how simple it is to live without a refrigerator.

If you have a gas stove (and know your gas is not leaking) then use your lighter to light the stove and cook soup, eggs (if they have not gone bad), pasta and rice.

Water

If you lose your water supply then start using the water (that you should have put) in your tub to wash dishes, bathe, and brush your teeth.

If your water supply returns, then consider boiling it first before drinking it. It can take a few days to ensure the sewage didn’t leak into the city’s water supply. Drink your bottled water and do not forget about your pets’ water bowls.

Lighting

Owning a battery operated lantern will come in handy if you lose your power. The light emitted is stronger than a flashlight and will allow you to do more once the sun sets. As it starts to get darker in your home, make sure you are not without a flashlight or lantern.

Radio

Listen to your battery-operated radio to get updates on the status of repairs and learn what is going on around you. You will often learn of roads that were flooded, areas that have power, and curfews that are now being enforced.

Clean-Up

Try to clear any debris, leaves and branches from your property and drains, and bring them to the curb for the city to collect. Put pots under leaks, and towels under defrosting refrigerators and freezers to prevent further damage.

Security

If you have an alarm system and your power is out, then at the very least lock all of your doors and windows. Try to stay home if possible so potential looters do not have the opportunity to rob you. Boarding your windows before the storm will not only help prevent glass from shattering, but it will make it more difficult for thieves to break in.

Driving

Only drive if you have to. You’ll want to save your fuel in the event it becomes necessary to evacuate. Try rolling down your windows instead of using your car’s air conditioning to save on fuel consumption. Be careful when driving near down power lines, trees, and branches.

Get to Know Your Neighbors

If you are without power, then this is the perfect time to walk around and get to know your neighbors. You can talk about the hurricane damage and bond over a shared experience. If you have extra supplies, then lend them to to a family that needs them. If you need extra supplies then do not hesitate to ask. If a neighbor offers help then accept it. This is the time to love thy neighbor and be reciprocal.

Take Things One Step at a Time

Once the hurricane is over, your first priority is to make sure everyone is OK (people and pets). Then assess your damage. Take care of the administrative work necessary to file claims and deal with contractors but try not to stress out. You might have to live with a damaged house for a few months so be prepared; it’s not the end of the world as long as the contractors have ensured your roof is leak-proof for any rain that is to come.

Support one another; going through a hurricane and seeing your neighborhood devastated can cause depression, shock, anger and irritability. Knowing that you are safe is the most important thing, not your material possessions. In time, everything will be sorted. The power will return; your water will return; and your house will be fixed. And life will go on as if nothing ever happened, only next time you’ll know what to expect.

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