Hurricane Harvey is shocking Americans all throughout the country, not just in Texas. No one can believe that the battering continues and has been deadly in some areas. Everyone’s watching and hoping the devastation will end soon so the citizens of Houston and the surrounding areas can go back to their lives.
Rebuilding after a destructive hurricane is not only expensive but it is emotionally draining. The best hope for the victims of Hurricane Harvey is that they were covered with the appropriate Home and Flood Insurance. A standard Homeowners Insurance policy does not cover flooding, which is what is destroying most homes and businesses today. Unfortunately, for those who didn’t have Flood Insurance, it’s too late to get coverage until some time has passed. For many of us, Hurricane Harvey is a most unexpected natural disaster and a lesson that we should all be prepared for this sort of damage, especially if we live in storm-prone areas of the country.
We’ve compiled some tips on what to do to ensure your family’s safety after the hurricane. Often, homes become danger zones but we sometimes can’t avoid revisiting and trying to recoup our losses. Here are some pointers on how to do this as safely as possible.
Regrouping with Family Members
Hopefully, you have a plan in place to meet up with one another without needing cellular service, which may not be available during and even after a hurricane. Water surges and strong winds can take down power lines so you may have a very difficult time communicating with one another.
Home is often not the best destination to agree upon when picking a spot to regroup. Not only will your home likely be flooded, there may be gas leaks and wildlife taking refuge inside. If you go in unprepared to be met with these sorts of possibilities, you may get seriously hurt.
Always have an out-of-town contact and provide every member of the family with that person’s address and phone number. If your area gets hit hard, the neighboring towns may still be safe to take refuge in. Make sure to be on your emergency contact’s list too, in case the storm hits there and they need to come to your home for safety.
Entering Your Home Again
Make sure that you are always staying current with the news and not attempting to re-enter your home before it’s deemed unsafe. Roads leading to your home, or even the home itself, could be deadly so never defy the authorities in their safety assessments.
Tornados often follow hurricanes, so don’t be fooled into thinking that you’re safe going back after the hurricane winds die down. Wait until authorities say it is safe to return to your area. They will not do so until it’s clear that a tornado is not headed your way.
If you are allowed back, do not bring children with you. Your home may be very dangerous. It may also unsettle small children to see their house in a dilapidated state.
If the area surrounding your home is flooded, turn back around immediately. Even though flooding is covered under your Auto Insurance policy, you don’t want to chance getting stuck in your vehicle so if the entrance to your home is flooded, don’t approach thinking your car won’t get swept away or damaged by the flood.
Chances are that your utilities won’t work. Expect to find yourself without water, gas, electricity and phone service. This will be the condition of your home for quite a while, especially if the hurricane is especially severe. The food in your fridge will likely spoil if you didn’t take care to empty your fridge before leaving home.
Enter hesitantly and armed to confront wildlife taking refuge in your home. An animal may attack after becoming alarmed once you enter. Bring a broom or bear spray, which will work on just about any animal.
Do not drink any of the water from your pipes. It usually takes a few days for the authorities to declare whether or not the water is contaminated or potable. Do not take any chances; contamination with sewage water is quite common after a flood.
Rebuilding Your Life Starts Now
Bring battery-operated, heavy-duty flashlights because you most likely will not have electricity. Do not use candles in case there is a gas or propane leak. The best thing you can do is photograph the wreckage, which will be hard to capture if it’s dark inside. You’ll need these photographs for your insurance claim, in which you will file for the cost of rebuilding your home. Most people think a claim covers the value of a home, but it really covers rebuilding to make the dwelling habitable again.
Prepare a list of damaged items for your records to accompany your photographs. You’ll want to report the damage as soon as possible, but make sure to get all your information together first.
For the next few weeks or months, make sure to keep all your receipts because you may be covered for relocation costs and similar expenses, sometimes even meals. Most insurance policies cover emergency housing.
After you notify your insurance company of the damage to your home, they will send you claim forms with a deadline (this length of time varies according to state). You’ll need to fill out and return the forms immediately. If you find the paperwork confusing, contact an Insurance Specialist: (888) 772-4247.
The future is still full of potential. Think about the construction of your current home and consider building a stronger structure next time if it did not sustain heavy winds. If you didn’t have Flood Insurance during this storm, you probably paid heavily for it. Just don’t make the same mistake twice!
As Hurricane Harvey Ravages Texas, You Can Help Victims:
Red Cross: text HARVEY to 90999 to donate . Donations to the Salvation Army can be made online: https://goo.gl/YUpEcR
Catholic Charities: text CCUSADISASTER to 71777 to donate
The information in this article was obtained from various sources. This content is offered for educational purposes only and does not represent contractual agreements, nor is it intended to replace manuals or instructions provided by the manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional. The definitions, terms, and coverage in a given policy may be different than those suggested here and such policy will be governed by the language contained therein. No warranty or appropriateness for a specific purpose is expressed or implied.