Houstonians and others affected by Hurricane Harvey will not soon forget the devastation that this storm caused. As one of the worst storms in modern U.S. history, the damage was widespread, covering the gulf towns and the major urban population of Houston. What steps should homeowners take to prepare for a storm like this or to ensure the recovery process is as smooth as it can be following a severe storm? Read the following tips to find out the answers.
What Supplies Should I Store?
You will need enough non-perishable food and water to last you and your loved ones at least three days. A storm may result in no electricity, fallen trees or debris blocking roadways or other obstructions that will keep you from leaving your home to retrieve food and water from another location.
You will also need the following:
- Extra chargers for your cell phone, etc.
- Garbage bags and toiletries
- Prescription and necessary non-prescription medication
- Food and water for your pet
- Food or formula, diapers, bottles, and wipes for your baby
- Fire extinguisher
- Important documents such as state IDs, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies, and bank account information
- Cash, traveler’s checks, and credit or debit cards
Try to keep your items in a dry, cool location (like a plastic container with a lid).
How Can I Avoid Water Damage?
Hurricanes can dump inches or feet of water. Harvey’s historic rainfall amounts were an example of a worst-case scenario. This leaves behind weeks if not months of arduous and costly cleanup efforts. Doing the following can help you avoid having your belongings, and if possible your home, destroyed by water damage:
- Moving furniture and other items to higher ground
- Securing windows and doors with tape and plywood
- Clearing trash from your gutters
- Securing your garage door
If your home has flooded and water damage was unavoidable:
- Discard any item and drywall that can’t be cleaned with bleach and soap and water
- Avoid wading in flood water— it may be contaminated, or dangerous animals may be lurking
You’ll next have to worry about paying for the costly repairs your home will need.
What Kind of Insurance Do I Need?
Homeowners insurance can protect your home from damages caused by heavy wind gusts, but you will need to purchase a separate flood insurance policy to cover any flooding destruction.
Once you have insurance, doing the following can make the claims process easier:
- Keeping inventory of your belongings before and after a storm hits
- Taking pictures of and recording the damage in your home caused by the hurricane and contacting your insurance agent
- Waiting to make significant home repairs until your insurance claim has been reviewed
This way, you have the evidence you’ll need to file a strong claim, and will only make the repairs you can afford. Of course, it will be hard to wait until your claim is fully processed, so you can work on minor stuff in the meantime.
You may feel that staying home and keeping an eye on your property is necessary, but your life and the lives of your loved ones also matter. If you are given a mandatory order to evacuate, don’t take it as a suggestion: evacuate.
Avoid flood water
Don’t drive through it, drink it, or otherwise use it in the home for any reason. Electrocution, drowning, and catching water-borne illnesses are some of the threats flood water presents.
Stay away from windows
High wind gusts, heavy rain, broken glass, downed power lines, fallen trees, and flying objects can all result in injury. Cover your windows or install hefty storm shutters to prevent further damage.
If Hurricane Harvey showed us anything, it was that these storms could leave behind an overwhelming amount of loss. The most important step to take to protect your life and the lives of your loved ones involve action. Taking action begins before the storm and continues after it.