We have compiled some tips for you to share with those you may know affected by the storms and help them rebuild after natural disasters.

We do not have all of the answers, but we want to help however we can!


Returning
Home

When you return home, it is your responsibility to protect your home from further damage. There are immediate steps you can take to prevent the damage from getting worse:

  1. Take pictures of damage and belongings for insurance purposes, then secure your belongings. If you begin the clean up and recovery process before taking pictures, you could decrease the amount of coverage you receive.
  2. Put up tarps to cover any holes in the walls, windows, or roofs. If a tarp does not provide substantial coverage or security, board up the openings.
  3. Be proactive in preventing mold, and remove wet carpeting and drywall. Clean and disinfect all wet areas. Protect yourself! Wear protective coverings, like rubber boots, long sleeves, pants, gloves, hats, and masks when entering and cleaning up hazardous and damaged areas. 
  4. Clean up the debris in your yard and compile everything to a central location. Pick up services may require that you sort the debris and trash into specific piles (leaves, glass, electronics, carpet, normal household trash, hazardous waste, etc), so be sure to check that you are following local guidelines.  
  5. Take extra precautions not to eat or drink contaminated food or water. Throw away any food that came in contact with water. If you are unsure if the water is safe to drink, boil your water until the water supply is deemed safe.

Insurance

When working with your insurance company, be sure to take detailed notes of all conversations and keep track of all receipts, including those from damage cleanup and repair. Trust your insurance company, but take precautionary measures for your own protection and peace of mind. 

Make a claim with your insurance company as soon as possible. Divide up damaged and undamaged belongings, make a list of all of these items, but do not discard anything immediately. Take your time and do not rush the process. If you are unable to live in your home, contact your insurance company to see if temporary house measures are available.


Estimates and Repairs

When seeking repair estimates and searching for a contractor to repair or rebuild your house, keep these tips in mind:

  1. If you are unsure where to begin, contact your insurance company and ask for referrals. Although it seems like a quick fix, avoid door to door solicitors offering disaster rebuilding services and then push for your quick decision. 
  2. Make sure whoever is working on your house is licensed. Whether you are dealing with lead safe renovators, asbestos professionals, or cleaning services for fire and water damage, always check and make sure they are certified and have correct and up to date credentials. 
  3. You can research on your own by searching phrases like "scam", "ripoff", and "complaint" before or after the business or contractors name. The Better Business Bureau also keeps records of complaints on local companies.
  4. Interview multiple prospective contractors or companies and compare quotes. If you are still unsure about whether or not they are reliable, do not be afraid to ask for references and proof of insurance. 
  5. Once you have decided on a company, before any work is begun, ask for a written contract that includes: an obligation for the company to get all permits, a detailed list of the work that is going to be done, an estimated start and finish date, and how much repairs are going to cost.

Helpful Links

Rebuild Healthy Homes: Guide to Post-disaster Restoration for a Safe and Healthy Home
This guide, from HUD was developed to help homeowners, volunteers and other workers to restore damaged homes in a way that puts people first. It includes how-to methods, tips and improvement ideas for safe restoration that result in not just a livable dwelling, but a healthy home that offers even more than before.

FEMA
FEMA has created guides for each of the areas affected, and allocated specific helpful information, in various languages, for Texas, Florida, Georgia, US Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.

How Water Damages a Flooded House, and which Parts can be Saved.
High water levels does not mean a house is destroyed, but what does the water do to the house?