How to Handle Storm Damage

by Kevin on May 9, 2011

Many people in the states of Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee were hit hard by the rash of tornado producing storms last week. Some have lost everything – entire blocks of homes were completely wiped out. Others are thankful to have only received some damage to their homes. Whether that means holes in vinyl siding from tennis ball sized hail or flooded attics and basements due to leaks or holes in the roof, there’s a lot of work to be done by insurance adjusters and construction crews in the coming months.

5 Steps to Dealing with Storm Damage

If you are dealing with storm damage it can be overwhelming at first. Your home has a lot of emotions tied up in it, and experiencing damage to something that was supposed to be secure can be rattling. Here are 5 steps to overcoming storm damage:

1. Stay Calm

Before you do anything you must keep your wits about you. Running around in a panic will expend valuable energy, get others panicked, and generally do you no good. Having thought ahead to the day when you might run into a disaster like this is important. Having a plan ready to put into action when disaster strikes will help you remain as calm as possible. You can focus less on what has just happened and more on implementing the plan you have in place.

2. Safely Secure a Warm, Dry Place to Stay

If your home is intact, congratulations. You’ve already got a dry place to stay. (You may need to focus on finding a heating source depending on the season and state of utilities around you.)

If your home is not intact, it is time to leave. Grab your valuables, grab your disaster gear, and start moving. If your car is drivable, use it. If everything has been wiped out, but you survived, you will need to walk. (Depending on the extent of the damage around you, it may make sense to stay put for a night to see what, if any, disaster relief comes to your area.)

If you’re driving or walking around in an attempt to find shelter, be aware of things like downed power lines. No sense in getting electrocuted after surviving a direct tornado hit.

Whether you can stay at home or if you need to leave, take digital photographs (either on a digital camera or smartphone) of the damage. Be thorough, you will need it later.

3. Eat and Rest

Once you secure shelter — whether at a disaster shelter, with a friend, or at a hotel — rest. It will be tempting to run around trying to solve all your problems at once, but you need your energy.

4. Connect with Your Insurance Company

When a natural disaster sweeps through an area like those tornadoes did, the insurance companies mobilize large units of adjusters to assess damage. You need to get in contact with a claims representative sitting in a call center as quickly as possible. Having those photos you took above will be helpful in getting your claim processed.

Be prepared to sit on hold for a long, long time. We’re talking hours. Having a steady supply of electricity to keep your phone plugged in and charged while you wait is key. There’s no sense in killing your only form of communication with the world sitting on hold. If you can use someone’s land line to call in, even better, because you will save your mobile minutes.

5. Beware of Scams

As things return to normal in your area, be aware of potential scams. When your home is damaged con artists will sweep through areas and act as if they are contractors. They’ll require money up front, preferably cash, and do as many deals as possible in a short period of time. They get their money, leave town, and never repair your home. Too many people in bad situations are taken advantage of like this, and it all goes back to keeping your wits about you. Be extraordinarily skeptical with anyone you deal with during this time.

Storms are no fun, and neither is storm damage, but you can make it through. What others tips would you recommend? Have you survived a devastating storm recently?


{ 1 comment }

Derek May 9, 2011 at 10:18 am

I recommend an organizational tool that keeps all the important documents you may need in an emergency together in one location. I have a binder that is a collection of personal information (contacts, advisors, friends, family), legal documents (wills, trusts, powers of attorney) and financial information (accounts, insurance policies). In an emergency, you can simply grab the binder and have all the important information at your fingertips. All your critical info is there when it’s time to begin the process of re-building your life after a storm. – Derek

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