Storm Damage Recovery
Whether it is a fire, flood, earthquake, storm, or tropical cyclone, recovering and moving on from a disaster is a daunting task. Storm damage recovery may be overwhelming at times. How does someone pick up the pieces? Where do you even start? Here are some guidelines to help you get back on your feet.
Remember, you have just survived an extremely traumatic event. A little self-care is important to keep you performing at your best. Eat healthy foods, get plenty of rest, and exercise. A brisk walk can boost endorphins, reduces stress hormones, and help alleviate mild depression. Talk to someone. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from a friend or family member. Talking can often help ease the pain of a loss. Seeking the guidance of a counselor or clergy member can also help ease the emotional burden. There will be a lot to do, so set a manageable schedule. No one will get everything done in one day. Pace yourself.
Keep your family together. It’s a good idea to keep small children, pregnant women, and people with health problems away from flooded or damaged areas until cleanup is complete. Children will be scared and anxious following a disaster. Talk to them factually about what has happened and reassure them that you will take care of them. Try to return to as many normal activities as you can. Encourage your family to talk about their experience with friends and neighbors.
Don’t forget about your furry family. Pets also need to be considered during the storm recovery process. Companion animals are an important part of many families. Hopefully you were able to take your pet with you, but If you’ve had to leave your pet behind, contact the local animal control agency or the public or private shelter. These organizations will have information about rescue operations. They’ll also have information about shelter options for pets if animals are not allowed at your emergency shelter.
All animals are under extreme pressure following disasters and may react differently to people and surroundings, so be cautious when approaching them, and monitor them for signs of stress.
If your home has suffered damage, call your insurance agent to file a claim. Make safety the top priority. Never enter your property until you receive an all clear from local authorities. Rely on official information from the authorities. When entering your property, consider your safety. Examine the structure before you go in. Take note of damage and take pictures. Check for damage of the roof, walls, foundation, and overhangs. If there is any doubt to the structural integrity, DO NOT ENTER. Call a professional. Only enter when you are sure that structure seems safe. Make sure to turn off main power and gas supply before going in.
Walkways and other surfaces can become slippery and uneven , so use caution. Wear a mask if molds and other pollutants are a threat. Wear rubber boots and gloves. Take photos of any floodwater in your home and save any salvageable personal property. Make a list of damaged or lost items and include their purchase date and value with receipts if you have them. Place this information with your prior inventories and save for insurance purposes. Some damaged items may require disposal, so take and keep photographs of these items. Keep power off until an electrician has inspected your system for safety. Boil water for drinking and food preparation until authorities tell you that your water supply is safe.
Most major storms require professional mitigation. Your insurance agent or adjuster can recommend a contractor or you can find one yourself. Remember before choosing a contractor, do your homework and make sure they are a reputable company.
To check on a contractor:
- Confirm proof of insurance
- Ask for references
- Get a contract
- Obtain any guarantees in writing
- Keep a copy of the final signed contract
- Don’t sign off before the job is finished
National Disaster Declarations
encouraged to apply for FEMA assistance or aid, regardless of the extent of the disaster
you experienced.People who suffered damages from the storms are eligible for assistance through
various programs offered by FEMA. If you are a renter, you may be eligible for a grant
from FEMA to cover Short term rent assistance at a new location. The process involved
in applying for FEMA may seem time-consuming. However, you may be missing an
important source of financial assistance if you fail to take advantage of this opportunity.
When you apply, please have the following information available:
- Social Security number
- Current and pre-disaster address
- Telephone numbers where you can be contacted
- Insurance InformationTotal household income
- A routing and account number from your bank (only necessary if you want to have disaster assistance funds transferred directly)
Call the FEMA Helpline or check online if you need additional help or have questions.
You can also learn the status of an application, additional services, or the location of
Application Line 1-800-621-FEMA (3362)
TTY # . . . . . . . . .1-800-462-7585
You can also apply online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov.