Hurricanes can be tracked, prepared for, stocked up for, and braced for to some extent. However, no matter how well-prepared you are, a relentless storm system can sweep everything in its path as if it was never there.
The hardest part for those who were impacted by a hurricane can be cleaning up afterward and adjusting to a “new normal.”
The recovery process after a hurricane strikes your home can be lengthy and involve everything from assessing the damage to rebuilding after an evacuation. We’ve put together some tips to help you and your family get back on your feet.
Listening to local news sources to learn when it is safe to return to your home is the first step in the aftermath if you evacuated. Wait until the storm has completely passed and local authorities have given the all-clear for your neighborhood before you go back.
Make sure you are aware of any additional rainfall or subsequent flooding in your area even after the storm has passed because of the storm system’s outer bands, the storm surge, or flooded rivers or lakes.
1. How to clean up safely
You might have a lot of work to do once you get home to fix up your house. Make sure to prioritize safety:
First, focus on the future. You can’t change what has happened, but you can move forward.
2. Contact one of the following organizations as soon as you can for assistance.
- – Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA): They can give you access to the most recent data and resources relevant to your region.
- – Call 2-1-1 — The United Way provides this free service to aid people in locating nearby resources. They can offer information on different types of housing and shelter, as well as help with utilities and disaster relief.
- – Your local Red Cross chapter can assist you in finding housing as well as, in some cases, aid and vouchers.
- – Local churches, mosques and synagogues
You can check this website to see if your region has been designated eligible for individual assistance through the Disaster Assistance Improvement Program.
3. Call your insurance provider.
Verify your coverage and request an electronic copy of your policy if you don’t already have one. Before you begin the cleanup, you might want to consider taking photos and videos of any damages to help support any claims you might make.
You can find instructions on how to resolve an insurance claim on the website of the Insurance Information Institute.
4. Speak with your creditors.
Even if you believe your finances are in order, get in touch with ALL of your creditors and let them know you have been impacted by a natural disaster. They will at least have it on file, so you are good to go if you encounter issues.
Contacting them PRIOR to missing a payment is crucial. You can ask your creditors to cooperate if your income has been impacted.
5. For insurance purposes, take as many pictures as you can of any damage that has been done to your house or property.
If any portion of your home needs to be rebuilt, it might be wise to consider storm-proofing it to withstand hurricanes or tropical storms in the future. This can be done by installing hurricane shutters, a stronger roof, stronger garage doors, or trimming back nearby trees that could topple over in high winds.
6. Be on the lookout for con artists and double-check everything before hiring a contractor.
Although most could be upright, a few are often con artists. Get everything in writing before agreeing to any type of work, and avoid paying upfront or with cash.
Don’t forget to read online reviews of your prospective contractor. And prior to signing a contract with the first person who comes to your door, consider requesting recommendations for nearby contractors, preferably one who has previously worked with someone in your area.
7. Look after yourself.
You’ve experienced serious trauma, as well as your family. Contact your company’s employee assistance program for advice if you are having trouble sleeping or feel yourself starting to feel depressed.
Don’t forget to talk to your children; frequently, they may need your assistance in expressing their emotions. Be patient; people might have shorter tempers than usual and your kids might be more needy.
When contacting relief organizations, think about also requesting counseling for you and your family, if necessary.
Finally, keep in mind that getting back to normal after a natural disaster often requires patience. To start down the road to recovery, think about using the suggestions above as a roadmap.