The aftermath of a hurricane and the devastation left behind can be overwhelming for home and business owners and literally whole communities and regions. Given that, we can get stuck in a frustrating loop not knowing where to start. We put together a list that we hope will get you started thinking. Given that every home or business has their own unique set of circumstances we can’t make an exhaustive list but we do hope that this list will help those that are struggling with where to start.
Contact your homeowners insurance company – there are likely to be many issues with your home and finding out what if anything your homeowners policy covers is a good first step.
If you have flood insurance then contact your flood insurance company and get a claim started there (assuming your home took on water). Some will want to see the damage before you start work but in reality you are probably going to need to take pictures and videos as you don’t have much time to wait for an adjuster.
If FEMA is involved (and they likely are) go here https://www.fema.gov or the President has declared your area and the event a national disaster then go to http://www.DisasterAssistance.gov or call 1-800-621-FEMA(3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. This will get the FEMA process started for you.
Check with your local and state government officials to see if anything is available at the city, county, or state level to provide assistance or even temporary relief/shelter.
Check with your employer to see if they are offering employees any type of post hurricane & flooding assistance. At a minimum you will need to notify them of your situation and housing status.
Check with your local church and community organizations many churches provide their communities with support through housing, food, and other ways after natural disasters.
If your home has been flooded then start by shutting off electricity & gas before entering your home. Remove covers from all outlets and the fuse or breaker boxes and flush or clean. Let that dry & then spray with contact cleaner/lubricants. Have an electrician check your system before turning everything back on.
If your local water utility has declared your water to be unsafe be sure to purify your water for all uses (from bathing to cooking). The most common way to do this is to boil the water vigorously for a full minute. If you will be removing drywall and floors then you probably will want to shut off your water as well if it is functional.
Wet carpets should be dried as quickly as possible. There is a good chance that you will need to dispose of anything that was wet for more than 48 hours. That said, you can also contact a specialist for drying carpet to see what if anything can be safely salvaged. You do need to act quickly to start the drying process or pull it all up.
Upholstered Furnishings that were contaminated by flood waters most likely will need to be disposed of. Use your best judgement but as a general rule upholstered furniture and mattresses should be discarded.
Walls need to be opened so that the studs can be dried and wet insulation can be removed. In general you want to remove drywall well above the highest water level that was in your home. If you had a foot of water then consider removing 2-3 feet of drywall/wall coverings and discard the materials. If you don’t know how to do this you can hire a drywall contractor/specialist to take care of this quickly for you.
Subfloors that have been submerged will depend on the the type of subfloor if it is plywood or OSB they will likely need to be replaced as they could swell and separate. Concrete most likely will be okay but in doubt you can ask a flooring professional to check it out.
Wood floors will most likely be an issue. You can try to remove a board every few feet to reduce buckling and attempt to dry it out. If you have tongue-and-grooved wood floors you probably should consult a professional if you try to salvage it. This type of flooring can take weeks to dry so many times it is simply discarded.
Tile floors will most likely need to be removed to allow the concrete or sub-floor to properly dry. There are tile specialists that can give you an expert opinion on this if you aren’t sure whether to keep it or not. Wet tiles on concrete can start to pop up though if not dried and properly cared for.
To clean wall finishes, woodwork, floors, etc. You should use a phosphate-free, all-purpose cleaner and wash it thoroughly. If you use bleach use 1/2 cup to a gallon of water but make sure this is use only on colorfast surfaces. You do need to dry these things quickly using fans, dehumidifiers, or desiccants.
Appliances and equipment should be turned off, opened, and allowed to dry as much as possible. You should have a professional inspect whether or not it is safe to turn these appliances back on and if they are safe to use (stove, refrigerator, washer/dryer, etc.).
Furniture (non-upholstered for upholstered see above). Brush off mud (drawers, doors, etc.). Use commercial cleaning products to clean the surface and ry out slowly out of direct sunlight to avoid warping.
Preventing mold is a serious challenge. As soon as it is safe (an HVAC person and/or equivalent) has approved your air conditioning you should turn that on. If you have a dehumidifier, fans, or anything similar that will help dry and pull out moisture use those as soon as you can as well.
If you must keep household articles and upholstery that has mildew/mold then be extremely careful. Use a HEPA vacuum, dry the items in the sun, and clean thoroughly with diluted alcohol, dry again.
Before you rebuild have a contractor or handyman take a look at everything to be sure it is dry and ready to be replaced. The last thing you want to do is have to rip it all out again because you didn’t allow enough time for everything to adequately dry.
Keep in mind that time is not a friend to a flood damaged home. The quicker you can remove or treat wet materials the more likely you are to salvage as much of your home as possible.
One of the main things that we are trying to help avoid here at Hurricane Services is a rogue or unscrupulous contractor trying to take advantage of our users. We ask that you <a href=”/report-a-provider/”>report them</a> to us as quickly as possible so we can take action against them.