Safety After the Storm – Assessing Hurricane Damage
Even though the storm has passed, it’s important to be aware of the dangers in your area. Here are some tips to help keep you and your family safe when returning home to assess hurricane damage.
Safely Assessing Hurricane Damage
Don’t return to your local area to assess the hurricane damage until officials say it is safe to do so. Keep in mind that flash flooding can occur and that roads and bridges may be damaged. To verify road conditions after a hurricane call:
- North Carolina: 511
- South Carolina: 888-877-9151
Let people know you’re safe. Register with the American Red Cross Safe and Well system so family and friends can find you.
Avoid driving or walking through floodwaters while assessing hurricane damage, which can be electrically charged from downed and underground power lines; contain debris like glass, dead animals or even poisonous snakes; or be contaminated with sewage and hazardous chemicals. Just six inches of moving water can knock down a person, and a foot of fast-moving water can destabilize a vehicle.
To avoid home hazards from flooding, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker, or ask for professional help. Do not touch electrical equipment. Use a flashlight, rather than anything flammable, in case of gas leaks.
Be aware of hazards relative to power lines, polluted water, and the possibility of fire due to low water pressure.
Be wary of unlicensed contractors when repairing hurricane damage. While natural disasters can bring out the best in people, as strangers reach out to help others in need, unfortunately the aftermath of a crisis can also bring out many types of scams and unlicensed contractors who take advantage of those who have been victimized. Before you hire check out the company/contractor at bbb.org. It’s fast, easy and free. Additionally, do not pay for work in advance. Be wary of any contractor who demands full or half payment up front.
If your home is flooded, document the damage as soon as possible. Take a combination of still pictures and videos for insurance claims purposes. The more documentation you have, the easier it is once you’re ready to file your claim. Do only what's necessary to prevent further damage after a storm, such as covering broken windows with plastic or roofs with tarps to keep rain out. Don’t make or commission permanent repairs until an insurance adjuster reviews the damage.
If your home is destroyed and uninhabitable, you’ll need to find your family a safe place to stay while your home is being repaired. The loss of use coverage in a standard homeowner insurance policy typically helps pay for your family's lodging as long as the damage is part of a covered claim. Check your policy or ask your agent to make sure you have this coverage and to determine its monetary value and time limits.
Find shelter. If you're looking for rental housings or apartments because you can't return home after a disaster, check FEMA Interim Housing Resources.
- Search for an open emergency shelter near you by texting SHELTER /strong>and your zip code to 4FEMA (43362), Example: SHELTER 01234. (Standard text message rates apply.)
- Find open shelters using the FEMA Mobile App.
- Search online for a safe place to go.
Expect hurricane damage assessment teams to do an extensive review of all areas and insurance representatives to be on the scene immediately following a hurricane to expedite the handling of claims. Notify your AAA Insurance agent of any losses and leave word where you can be reached. Keep in mind that hardship cases are settled first, so please be patient.
Report a Claim at 800-228-9224