As I’ve watched Hurricane Florence strengthen over the last few days and head straight for the coast of the Carolinas, my heart hurts knowing the impact the heavy rain and winds will have on their communities. I immediately wanted to do something. For a moment in time, I was reliving what so many of us lived in August of 2016 – the cries for rescue, the fear of the unknown and the questions of what to do. There are a few things we Louisianians have learned since August 2016 so I thought I would put together a list compiled out of love from your Louisiana neighbors.
If You’ve Been Affected by Flooding
- Take pictures of all of your contents. Your insurance company or FEMA may ask for them. Download an app that date & time stamps your pictures.
- File an Insurance Claim ASAP – Auto, house, and flood insurance companies. Call them … you do not have to know the extent damage to file a claim.
- You will need to get the contents out of your house before you can start gutting / cleaning it out.
- Reserve a storage room or POD – ASAP … these will be in high demand and extremely difficult to locate in the weeks to come.
- Use plastic boxes to store anything that survived – make sure it is COMPLETELY dry before putting up.
- Real wood furniture CAN be dried out and refinished. Our contractor allowed us to leave it in the house as it dried with the dehumidifiers.
- ASK FOR HELP – those of us that didn’t flood want to help you.
- As soon as you can, make a list of your contents. I would suggest going room by room and including an idea of monetary value for each item. This will help you with insurance as well as your 2017 taxes.
- Water marks on pictures can be taken care of by a professional photographer; save your pictures!
- Write things down … who you talked to, claim numbers, processes you want to remember, etc. When you have “flood brain,” as we chose to call it last year, you will forget a lot.
- Require proof of license from ANYONE that will do repair work on your home and verify if the license if valid. You can call the state contractor’s board and the Better Business Bureau.
- Reserve your rental car ASAP – these will also be in HIGH demand.
- If you have electricity when you are allowed back in your house, get a lot of box fans (at least one per room) and dehumidifiers to dry out your house. Keep the air running and doors closed as much as you can.
- NEVER pay upfront for repairs to your home.
- Include pictures of your house “pre demo” – each and every room, each wall, outlet, etc.
- Whatever your contractor or subcontractor gives you, it will at least be doubled.
- Store pictures in Dropbox or the equivalent in case your phone is lost or dropped.
- If you do not have flood insurance, all hope is not lost. Know that you WILL get frustrated with how long everything takes.
- Also, it is just stuff. It COMPLETELY sucks to have stuff taken away without being able to decide to get rid of it.
- Take allergy medicine before/during cleaning out houses.
- When working on your house, take your time. It is hot & humid. Drink PLENTY of water!! Stay safe. Accidents happen more when you rush and are tired.
- Get a small book to keep all records and phone numbers in.
- Download SCANNER PRO to be able to fax from your phone to your insurance company or FEMA.
- During clean up, wear sweatbands or bandannas to keep your sweat out of your eyes. If you wear glasses, you will be glad to wear an eye glass holder.
- Little things matter so much; share your feelings, process your emotions and find friends in similar situations. I promise you will feel less alone.
Finally, when you feel like you just cannot move anymore or process one more item – STOP what you are doing and list three things you are thankful for.
I promise it will be ok … not today and maybe not tomorrow, but eventually, it will all be ok. This is a marathon, not a sprint. One day at a time, one item at a time, and one phone call at a time … it will all be okay. Lean on your family and friends. Ask US questions, we have been there.