Harvey Aftermath – What To Do When You Get Home

Harvey Aftermath – What To Do When You Get Home

We’ve all been through terrible devastation and fear this week in Houston.

It’s not over yet, and the rebuilding process will likely take years. Let’s not think too far ahead just yet. The best way to deal with these types of situations is with small steps at a time.

What can you do now? What should you be doing as soon as possible? Here are some tips to get you started on practical, small step-action if your house has taken on water.

In addition to the broad/basic info below, a friend alerted me to this awesome Reddit post from someone who had to deal flood recovery recently. His advice is detailed, thorough, and relevant regarding claims and repair. Read it here

The first thing you want to do when you return to a flooded home is:

  1. Turn off electricity to prevent a serious and immediate electrical hazard.
  2. If your house is dark and full of water, make sure you are protected as much as possible. For example… wear shoes. Flood waters are full of all types of fun stuff.
  3. Document all the damage before you take any steps to remove water. Take photos and video if possible. Be prepared to make a claim and document all lost and damaged property.
  4. Know your rights. In this type of devastation large scale relief offers victims options and aid. Get educated as to what you may now be entitled to, and take advantage as quickly as possible.

FEMA

If you need assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), there are very simple steps to take.

  1. Begin your claim as soon as possible. New legislation will negatively impact your ability to file claims beginning September 1st.
  2. Register by calling (800) 621-FEMA or (800) 621-3362 between 7am and 1pm daily, or apply online. Even if you’re not sure if you qualify, register just in case. Be prepared with your SSN, address of the damaged property, a list of damages and any insurance information.
  3. A FEMA contracted inspector will call you for a free inspection to provide verified proof of the damage. Make sure your home is as easy as possible to find (IE, your address number is still visible).
  4. If you are displaced, make sure FEMA can find you with up to date contact information. Update your information by calling or using their website. If they can’t reach you, you won’t receive assistance.

Clean Up

The next stage of the game is going to be clean-up. I have an experienced Galveston buddy who was ripping carpet out of his house days before the storm was set to end after he got a few inches in his home

  1. When the water recedes enough, use a shop vac and fans to dry the area as much as possible.
  2. Be prepared that this action alone may not save your carpet. Hot, humid Houston air provides perfect mold-growing conditions. Flood water isn’t just tap water spilled on the floor, either; it’s full of bacteria and perhaps even sewage.
  3. It may be impossible to save the carpet, in which case getting it out immediately is the best way to prevent mold damage to the rest of the home and potential health problems.
  4. Get rid of any water damaged items. It takes less than 48 hours for mold to start growing, and it will spread.

Beginning Repairs

When things calm down a bit, there’s going to be an overwhelming amount of work to do. What are the first things you should focus on as far as repairs go?

  1. As mentioned above, get rid of all saturated items to prevent further mold damage.
  2. Repair the roof to make your home a safer place to work and prevent further damage of the home.
  3. Learn how to spot water damage to remain vigilant and realistic in the cleanup process.

Rescue

Above all, remember to make safety your number one priority. Please don’t put yourself in compromising situations. Be aware of overhead damage, mold that has already set in and possible wildlife that may have entered your home. You do not have to go through this process alone. If you need immediate rescue assistance or know someone who does, please utilize this list of rescue phone numbers:

  • Houston Police or Fire Department: 311, or 713-844-3131 for police
  • Coast Guard: 713-578-3000
  • 281-464-485(1), (2), (3), (4), or (5)
  • CenterPoint Energy: 713-207-2222
  • American Red Cross: 1-800-RED-CROSS
  • Download the Zello App, create an account, and post your needs. This is what the Cajun Navy uses
  • Lost and Found Pets: facebook.com/HoustonLostandFoundPets
  • Live TV Feeds for Local News:

Help and Donations

This is a time to join together with your neighbors and community and help eachother out. We have all been through something terrifying and there will be a lot to do in the next few days, weeks, months and even years. Utilize your best resource: your Houston community. Help your neighbor and ask for help in return. If you would like to help, please consider volunteering or donating.

Though many items are needed, please be aware of where and what you give. The last thing volunteers need is to waste time sifting through bags of random items to find what they need.

Make sure you donate to reputable sources only.

This is a time to join together with your neighbors and community and help eachother out. We have all been through something terrifying and there will be a lot to do in the next few days, weeks, months and even years. Utilize your best resource: your Houston community. Help your neighbor and ask for help in return. If you would like to help, please consider volunteering or donating.

 

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