Hurricane Recovery: Taking Action!

Hurricane Recovery: Taking Action!

The aftermath of any storm can be the most trying time for homeowners. Make certain that whomever you hire to repair your home is local, reputable, and willing to work with you.

The aftermath of any storm can be the most trying time for homeowners. Make certain that whomever you hire to repair your home is local, reputable, and willing to work with you.

Our article yesterday covered the steps necessary for the homeowner to take when an approaching hurricane requires evacuation or at least preparation to hunker down and ride out the storm. Today, we’ll examine what to do next, assuming that you’ve left your home and are anxious to return.

Waiting For The All Clear Signal

Depending on just how badly the storm ravaged your area will determine when you can return to inspect your property. Washed out roads, impassable bridges, road debris, fallen trees, standing water, no electricity, and an insufficient police presence can hold off your return. When the “all clear” signal is given, you’ll want to gas up your car, perform simple maintenance on your vehicle (check tires, fluids), recharge your cell phone, get money out of the bank, bring along plenty of food and water, and start making the journey back home.

Expect heavy, slow moving traffic all the way home especially if hundreds of thousands of people also left their homes. With Hurricane Gustav, at least 1.9 million people exited communities across the Gulf Coast.

Photographs and Other Documentation

If your home escaped damage, then you may be able to stay depending on what the local authorities determine. During the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, residents in select areas were allowed to return only long enough to secure valuables, check on pets, and retrieve important paperwork. It was days, even weeks and months later before some residents could return to their homes again.

While at your home, take pictures of the damage and keep this information for your records. Contact your insurance adjuster immediately to notify them of your damage. You may need to forward photographs to help the agent identify your property especially if all markers (i.e., house number, street signs, etc.) are missing.  A camera phone can help you quickly forward those photographs.

It can take several days before an adjuster is able to get to your home, but be prepared to meet him there when he arrives, having a copy of your insurance documentation at the ready. Your agent is trained to know what to look for, but don’t be afraid to point out damage; expect to receive a check covering at least some of your loss on the spot. If your home has been destroyed, you will need to get enough funds to rebuild — if dissatisfied with the insurance settlement you may need to do battle with your insurance company. Remember: your settlement will include what is due you minus your deductible.

Time To Rebuild

In many areas, you’ll have enough contractors coming by offering to help, but you’ll want to be very careful when dealing with any of them, especially out of state companies. It is best to deal with a local company, preferably one that is licensed and approved by the state. Hurricane Katrina victims who lost everything because of that storm often lost a lot more when they hired the wrong contractors. Unscrupulous people will often show up in the storm’s aftermath to separate you from your insurance money. Caveat emptor!

As anxious as you are to rebuild, you’ll want to verify contractors. This can be difficult to do if government offices are closed, the BBB unreachable, or power is still sporadic. Regardless, once you have secured your property from the elements, you’ll want to make sure that the right builder is hired. Remember, the work that this person does is something you’ll have to live with for a long time — it is better to be inconvenienced for the short term than to be stuck with a rebuilding project that doesn’t meet your needs or fulfill your expectations.

Getting Help

Lastly, if your insurance settlement isn’t sufficient to rebuild, then you may need outside help in order to move forward. Government bureaucracy can move maddeningly slow, but many church and civic groups will often lend a hand, sometimes at no cost to you. Contact Habitat for Humanity, Samaritan’s Purse, the Red Cross, Salvation Army, and other groups providing relief in your area for guidance.

Adv. — If your home has been damaged by a hurricane, what plans do you have to rebuild? Let’s Renovate has lots of cool ideas and project information to ensure that your renovation goes according to spec. Stop by today to get your next home improvement project off to a great start.

Photo Credit: Palmer W. Cook


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About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Matt's Musings", his personal blog. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and blogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".