There are plenty of guides about what to do after a hurricane, but our Pros have specific recommendations. When it comes to recovering from property damage due to a hurricane, tornado, or other devastating storms, everyone has varying levels of disruption. For some, it’s little more than a power outage. Others may have their home completely destroyed. Most of us fall somewhere in between.
Quick Article Summary
- Make sure your family is safe
- Cut the power at the electrical panel (if you’ve lost power)
- Ensure your home still has structural integrity
- Make any temporary repairs you can
- Hire only licensed contractors
- Get back to the routine of life, and remember to be thankful!
What to do After a Hurricane
Before you consider your home and property, the life and health of you and your family should take the top priority. Ensure any injuries that require more than basic first aid are treated by qualified medical personnel before you start to worry about your home.
Cut the Power
After a storm cuts the power to the house, the very first thing you should do to protect your home is flip the main breaker off. That’s assuming you lose power, of course. The power restoration process can result in multiple quick power surges that can damage appliances and, on rare occasions, even start fires. Look for clues like street lights and less noise from generators to let you know when power has been restored before resetting the main breaker. Or, just check your analog or digital meter power meter for restored operation.
Trees often come down during and following hurricanes and tornadoes. This also occurs during ice storms in the winter. If a tree or other large object falls on your home, assess the damage to make sure that the wall or entire structure won’t collapse. If you’re unsure, stay with friends or family until you can have a professional check it out. This is not an area you should leave to chance. You also need to be wary of attempting to remove a tree that may be under strain or tension. Often, buried roots can cause a tree to suddenly snap back upright when you make a couple of cuts near the ground. Don’t let that happen to you!
If you’re pretty handy, you can do a lot of minor repairs yourself. But some repairs need a Pro’s touch. Some of the temporary repairs you can make include boarding up a broken window and tacking down a tarp over roof damage until a professional contractor can make the permanent repair. You may also be able to cap off damaged water pipes or other outdoor fixtures that need to be stopped before repairs can occur.
Hire a Contractor
When you have damage that requires a professional contractor, it can be difficult for you and your family. After all, you really want to get back to normal as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, post-storm damaged homes are prime targets for unlicensed, uninsured contractors. If you live in a state that requires contractors to carry a license (most do), resist the urge to get the “quick fix” and check references before hiring someone to do the work.
A quality contractor will quickly offer his or her credentials, and the best will already have their references for you to consider. Those who are willing to help you navigate the insurance claims process are worth every penny. Without a doubt, know what the cost of repairs will be and have a copy of the contractor’s license and insurance information in a file before you sign anything!
Get Back to the Routine of Life
When Hurricane Irma came through, several of us went without power for more than a week. When it came back on, you could hear shouts of joy and spontaneous clapping for the linemen that worked so hard to get us back up and running. It’s the first sign that things are getting back to normal after a storm. There will be more repairs to make and cleanup to do, but the time will pass, and you’ll eventually get back to normal. Plan a cookout or movie night so you have something to look forward to, and be sure to invite all the neighbors you got to know along the way.
No one can create a truly exhaustive list of what to do after a hurricane. There are hundreds of other little things that take place. But from the standpoint of getting your home back in shape and ensuring the repairs are done properly, this summarizes what our Pros recommend. Hopefully, you never have to worry about it. If you ever do, you’re already a big step ahead by knowing what to expect.