Recovering After a Natural Disaster: Putting the Pieces Back Together
Natural disasters can be devastating in so many ways; not only do they damage homes and property, but they can also cause loss of life and completely unravel families. For those fortunate to escape with no injuries, the only options are often to totally rebuild a home or salvage what’s left and look for another place, both of which take time and money. Not only that, it’s important to be able to hold onto the items that mean so much and to have the option to replace the ones that are too damaged to be usable.
Fortunately, there are some options if you’ve been the victim of a natural disaster such as a tornado, flood, or wildfire. The key is to start with a good plan and keep safety in mind, especially in the beginning as you assess your home. Make a call to an inspector if you’re unsure about the safety of your home after the damage has been done, as there may be structural issues that will make a walk-through almost impossible.
Keep reading for some great tips on how to recover your home after a natural disaster.
Never try to enter your home while there are still floodwaters or flames nearby. Once the event has ended, tread carefully. Watch for fallen power lines and weakened walls, and keep in mind that wildlife may have entered your home in the time that you were gone, especially if there was flooding present. Use a stick to poke through the debris in case of snakes. Bring along a cell phone in a plastic baggie and a small hand-crank radio so you can stay on top of any emergency alerts. If you need a flashlight, turn it on before entering the home, as powering it up can produce a spark that will be dangerous if leaking gas is present. If you do smell gas or hear a hissing noise, open a window, leave immediately, and call the gas company.
Don’t Try to Reuse Damaged Items
It can be tempting to try to salvage items from your home in order to save money, but using damaged things is not necessarily a good idea. For example, waterlogged mattresses can invite mold and bacteria, causing serious illness for you or your family. Once you’re in a position to do so, take the opportunity to look for a mattress that best serves your needs; think about whether you are a side sleeper or prefer to rest on your back or stomach, as the right mattress will help increase your comfort level. The same goes for couches, furniture, and appliances that have been heavily damaged by water; although some pieces can be salvaged, it’s typically best to replace them to ensure the safety of your family. Before replacing, carefully shop to select durable furniture that can last for years.
Once it is safe to go back inside your home, it’s imperative that you document the damage as thoroughly as possible. Take pictures and video and write down all the things that are missing, broken, or destroyed. Call your insurance company to avoid any delays in receiving a payout.
Look for Opportunity
Many families have found success with recovering their home even after the largest disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina. If your home’s structural quality hasn’t been compromised, look for opportunities to improve upon what you had and renovate the space in the way you’ve always wanted. This can help ease stress and anxiety and allow you to focus on the positive.
Putting the pieces back together after a disaster is never easy, and for some, it can cause stress or PTSD for many years. Remember to take care of yourself during this time — both body and mind — and look for ways to ease those feelings as often as possible during the rebuilding process.
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