Dealing with Storm Damage to Your Home

By: Danny Lipford

Tree fallen on house in yard

Dealing with wind or water damage to your home caused by hurricanes, tornadoes, or other severe storms can be both difficult and dangerous. Here are some tips on how keep your family safe and begin to get your life back together after a storm hits.

Staying Safe After a Storm

  • Listen to the radio for advisories and other instructions.
  • Do not venture outside until it has been declared safe to do so.
  • Stay away from downed power lines and avoid standing water or metal objects near downed wires.
  • Leave and do not enter buildings that have sustained structural damage.
  • Stay away from damaged trees and dangling or broken limbs.
  • Do not swim or wade in flood waters.
  • Check on neighbors, especially those who are elderly or disabled.
  • Watch out for snakes or other wild animals.
  • Turn the gas off at the meter if you smell gas.
  • Do not drive unless absolutely necessary.
  • If you must drive, watch for undermined roads and damaged bridges.
  • Do not attempt to drive through flooded streets or bridges.
  • Avoid using candles or other open flames indoors.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher handy at all times.
  • Test battery powered smoke and CO alarms.
  • Make sure your sewer system is working before flushing toilets.
  • Keep pets indoors and use a leash when taking them outside.
  • Operate generators outdoors in the open away from windows and doors.
  • Don’t eat perishable food that has warmed to over 40° F.

Hurricane tree damage to house

Cleaning Up After a Storm

  • Be very careful climbing ladders or working on roofs.
  • Use extreme caution if using a chainsaw to cut trees or branches.
  • Cover leaking roofs before the next rain to prevent further water damage.
  • Remove wet rugs and carpet from floors.
  • Open windows and run fans if you have water damage in your home.

Hurricane tree damage to house

Dealing with Insurance Companies After a Storm

  • Document damage to your home before clean up with photos or video, and compile a written list of damaged items.
  • Read your homeowner insurance policy thoroughly to see what is and isn’t covered before contacting the insurance company.
  • If you have trouble contacting your insurance company, try a multipronged approach including phone calls, emails, faxes, and letters.

Workers repairing roof on home.

Hiring a Contractor for Repairs

  • Except for emergency repairs, check with your insurance company before hiring a contactor.
  • Avoid “fly by night” contractors who are not from your area.
  • Check the local homebuilder’s association for recommendations of reputable contractors.
  • Get several written bids and understand exactly what each bid includes as far as the work to be done and the materials used.
  • Be persistent but patient since reputable contractors may be overwhelmed with work after a storm.

Further Information

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