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Tips for Hurricane Recovery
Hurricane Harvey Prior to Landfall in South Texas
Hurricanes can and have caused tremendous amount of damage along the coast regions of the United States. The damage associated with Sandy, Katrina, Ike, Rita, and recently Harvey are all poignant reminders of the devastation that can come with these storms. While the rain and wind can quickly subside, repairing the damages and the burden incurred will last months if not years for those impacted by the storms.
While I was very fortunate during Hurricane Harvey others were not as lucky with homes, vehicles, and jobs in flux. Below is to serve as a list of resources and guides available for those trying to rebuild.
Returning Home Initially
Even after the all clear is sounded, there are still dangers that can exist at homes following a flood.
When water levels rise; it picks up pesticide, animal waste, and sometimes sewage as the flood waters spread. With these come increased potential for infections.
-Wear waterproof boots and gloves as you re-enter your home and avoid contact with flood waters.
-Disinfect hard surfaces that may have come in contact with flood water.
-Deep clean inside and open windows and doors to get airflow and dry the house out. Additional notes in later sections on clearing out homes.
-Clear the fridge and pantry of items that have spoiled or could have been spoiled/contaminated with flood water.
-Be mindful that snakes, insects, rodents, and etc could have sought refuge in your home. Texas has water moccasins among other snakes which are poisonous.
-Avoid trekking through standing water. If you have to, know that there can be electrical shock risks which could be lethal. Both Hurricane Harvey and Tropical Storm Allison claimed lives as folks returned home and came in contact with a live lines. If your home is wet, PLEASE turn off electrical power at the main source if it is safe to access.
-Presence of sewage inside your home could also mean a failure in your sewage line and would also mean additional infection risks as well.
-Do not enter your home or light a match if there is a smell of gas or eggs. Storms can damage natural gas lines. Call 911 if you suspect as a gas leak.
Below is a formal checklist from the Red Cross on Returning Home After a Hurricane or Flood.
The rebuilding process can be both time consuming and a huge financial burden. Below are some of the resources and guides available to aid as you rebuild.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
Following a natural disaster, residents and business owners can file for FEMA assistance by registering at http://www.DisasterAssistance.gov. You can also register via the phone at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585.
Services provided by registering may include Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA), rental assistance, National Flood Insurance Program Advance Payments, disaster unemployment assistance, immediate foreclosure relief via U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and Critical Needs Assistance(CNA). CNA may include medical supplies, prescriptions, infant formula, diapers, food, water, fuel and etc.
Natural disaster are traumatizing and stressful. The US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration provides a emotional distress headline for both human-caused and natural disasters. Their website can be found here and their helpline is 1-800-985-5990 and it is operational 24/7, year round.
Following a hurricane, you may find that important federal documents have been lost or destroyed. Here is a link from the US Government on how to manage their replacement. It includes information on driver's licenses, birth certificates, marriage licenses, social security cards, passports, and voter registration.
If your vehicle was damaged due to a flood, the Department of Motor Vehicles has guidance from Hurricane Harvey on what to do. Conversely, if you accidentally purchased a flood damaged car, the DMV has guidance for that as well.
Home Flood Repairs
If your home was flooded, the Red Cross has guide on steps to follow in repairing your home. It goes through everything from safety to dry out, clean up, financial assistance, flood proofing and future preparations. VERY IMPORTANT READ.
Also, why many contractors are reputable others may not be as respectable. Unfortunately, with the influx and concentration of work people will exploit the tragedy. Vet your contractors before making a selection. Look at the BBB, building departments, licenses, and ratings/reviews. Do not sign off on completion papers or make the final payment to the contractor until the work is completed. You lose a significant amount of leverage once you sign off and pay. It becomes a much larger time and cost burden to build a legal case if a contractor falls to perform work.
As I find information I will update accordingly. If there are keys resources or guidance I should add please advise. As much as possible, I want to stick with sources linked to government or prominent NGO guidance.
During Hurricane Harvey misinformation was rampant on social media and I want to make this as clear, accurate and evergreen as possible.
© 2017 Daniel Gottlob