Between 1980 and 2018, the United States lost a staggering $862 billion to damages resulting from hurricanes. The average hurricane in the US costs approximately $21.6 billion. These climate catastrophes are by far the most destructive of all natural disasters.
Hurricanes hit both the coastal and inland areas of the US every year, leaving wreaking to homes and businesses wherever they strike. While there’s nothing people can do to prevent these disasters, it’s possible to prepare to appropriately handle the aftermath.
In this friendly guide, we tell you what to do after a hurricane, so you and your loved ones recover much faster. Read on to learn more.
What to Do After a Hurricane
The period following a hurricane can be a very emotional one. You need to make critical decisions to get yourself and your loved ones back on your feet safely and quickly. Below are nine best practices for after a hurricane.
Find Your Family and Friends
One of the first things you do when preparing for weather disasters is to establish a meeting place where everyone goes to when the disaster finally strikes. Head there immediately you’re notified by the authorities that a hurricane is on its way.
After the hurricane, try to reach your loved ones if you’re not already with them. The cellphone towers in your area will most likely be clogged with call traffic following a disaster, so use alternative means. You can use text messages and social media to make contact and let others know you’re okay.
Avoid Going Home Until It’s Safe
Understandably, you want to go home as quickly as possible. However, this may not be a good idea immediately following a hurricane. Chances are it’s still not safe out there.
Listen to communications from the authorities to know the situation around you. When it’s safe to go home, the authorities will notify you. Be sure to follow the designated routes to your home as some roads will probably be closed due to storm damage.
Keep Away From the Water
Flood water and stagnant water after a storm can be hazardous. Such water can hide bacteria and swift currents. The water might even be electrically charged.
Even shallow pools of water should be avoided.
Watch out for Debris
A hurricane can create hazardous conditions that result from the damage they cause. Fallen trees, downed power lines, fallen commercial signs, and broken glass are just some of the debris that you need to beware of.
Once the storm has passed, be as careful as possible as you sort out through the wreckage while assessing the damage.
Document All Damages
As soon as you get home, take pictures of everything. If you have access to a video drone, use it to document all the damages to your property so your insurance provider can see what happened.
Keep a written record of items that you discard during the cleanup, such as damaged items in your garage, shed, or attic. Print out any hard copies of forms that you fill online. If you purchase new items to replace damaged ones, keep the receipts.
Your insurance company will require comprehensive documentation when estimating your losses. Don’t forget to contact the insurance provider as early as possible, as the process of compensation can take a while.
Apply for assistance from the relevant federal agencies as well. The Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA), for instance, can help cover certain things that your homeowners and business insurance do not.
Beware of Fraud
When you’re trying to recover from a hurricane, any help you can get is welcome. Unfortunately, there are opportunistic predators out there who target unsuspecting victims of disasters to scam them. The three top scams following natural disasters involve identity theft, home repair, and fake donations.
To avoid these scams, do the following:
- Avoid providing any personal information to people you don’t know. This information includes your social security number and bank account details.
- Don’t pay in full for services that haven’t been rendered.
- Ask your insurance provider to first survey the damage and recommend a trustworthy contractor.
Avert Further Damage
Once it’s safe enough, take measures to prevent the damage to your home from worsening. You can, for instance, use tarps to avert further rain damage.
Move items that are still in good shape to a safe and dry location, such as a storage facility. All your personal belongings will still be covered by your homeowner’s insurance policy, even if you store them off-site.
In case your home experienced water damage, mold will be a major concern. Take the time to remove all wet items in your home that are still salvageable. Take out wet carpets, flooring, sheetrock, furniture, and wall coverings.
Use fans and dehumidifiers to dry out your home before starting the rebuilding process. Find a moisture reader to test your studs.
Determine whether you’re going to need a demolition company. If so, be careful about how you go about the demolition. Chances are that the water and debris in your home are contaminated by chemicals and sewage, so wear protective gear.
In case you’re using a contractor for the rebuilding, verify whether they’re approved by your insurance provider. Talk to your financial institution to find out whether they provide disaster loans or payment deferrals.
Take Care of Your Physical Health
The hurricane recovery process also involves being mindful of your body. Sure, it’s a frustrating time, but don’t neglect your well-being. Take the time to re-energize.
Ensure you’re eating well and getting enough sleep. Be patient with yourself and allow yourself ample time to heal. At the end of the day, it’s your health that’s most important, not your possessions.
Recovering From a Hurricane Does Not Have to Be Difficult
A hurricane can be devastating, but it doesn’t have to be the end of the world for you. As you’ve seen, there are several practical things you can do after a hurricane to ensure a smoother and less stressful recovery.
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