When you live in Louisiana, you must deal with Mother Nature. Many of us have experienced several hurricanes, floods, and other major weather events. Some were lucky to experience only minor damage while others experienced greater devastation, as was experienced in the Great Flood of 2016, Katrina, or more recently Harvey.
Here are some tips from our employees who, like many, have experienced this kind of devastation first hand.
Your house is flooded or damaged after a major storm, now what…where do you begin?
Photograph and Record Everything
Take photos of everything, and we mean everything - from contents of cabinets and specific items to entire rooms, before you start moving items. If you experienced flooding or water damage, place a tape measure against the wall and take photos of the water line in multiple places around your house. (Water level in various rooms could have been different.) When you start removing items, continue to photograph. You want to maintain as many records and photographic evidence as possible.
The photos taken of kitchen cabinets, for example, are extremely helpful to show to the contractor.
Documentation and Insurance
Maintain a written record of everything that you discard including lost food and items in your shed, garage or attic. Keep all records in a binder. Insurance companies and relief programs will require documentation and estimates of your losses. Contact your insurance company to start claims; this process can take a while so start as soon as possible.
Print out hard copies of any forms filled out online and save. Always check to make sure that submitted forms were received. Keep receipts of everything from cleaning supplies to new items purchased such as plastic bins for storage.
Be Careful and Prevent Fraud
Unfortunately, disasters bring out the best and worst in people. Disaster events are a beacon for opportunistic predators. Avoid the three most common scams: home repair, identity theft and donation scams.
- Never pay in full today for a promise of services later and avoid using cash.
- Before hiring any post-disaster contractor, ask your insurer to survey the damage and provide a list of approved contractors if available.
- Be alert and do not give anyone your personal information including bank account information or your social security number.
Apply for FEMA assistance even if you have insurance or flood insurance. Be sure to keep a record of your FEMA claim number. Apply for all of the aid that becomes available.
- 1-800-621-FEMA (1-800-621-3362)
Recover and Rebuild
- Since mold is a concern with homes that have water or flood damage, remove wet and soiled carpets, flooring, wallcoverings, and sheetrock as soon as possible. Dry out your home using fans and dehumidifiers. It is important that you rid your home of all moisture before rebuilding. Have your studs tested with a moisture reader.
- You will need help! Accept it when offered and if not offered then ask for it.
- Decide if you need to hire a company to help with the demolition. Be careful with demolition, the water or debris in your home could be contaminated by sewage or household chemicals. Be sure to wear protective gear including gloves and masks.
- If you decide to use a contractor to assist with your rebuilding process, verify that the contractor is licensed in your state.
- Contact your financial institution - find out if they offer payment deferrals, disaster loans, or any other type of disaster assistance or programs. Campus Federal offers special disaster loans with favorable terms to qualifying members.
Practice Patience and Take Time for Enjoyment
You are living through a very emotional time. Take the necessary time to make the best decisions for yourself. The goal is to get everyone back home safely.
At some point, you will need to reenergize - don’t feel guilty about it. Everyone heals at a different rate. Make sure to eat well and get enough sleep. Your health is what is most important, not possessions.