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Hurricane Disaster Recovery

Updated: Oct 1, 2022

Before the storm comes, we prepare, wait and ride it out. After its over, we're left with lots of work to be done. The cleanup, repairs, coordination between parties and government agencies and the list goes on. Even after the storm passes, certain places may still be dangerous. Many people are injured or killed walking or driving around after the storm. Live power lines, gas leaks, dangling tree branches, flooding, damaged roadways and dangerous wildlife (e.g. snakes, alligators) can be life-threatening.

In all, the economic damage wrought by the hurricane could reach up to $65 billion, according to a recent projection by data firm Enki Research, which studies the financial impact of storms. The estimate put the best-case scenario for storm damage at at least $55 billion, Enki Research said.

So what do you do? Don't go out. If you absolutely must, watch for fallen objects in the road, downed electrical wires, and weakened walls, bridges, roads, and sidewalks that might collapse. Assess the damage: Walk carefully around the outside of your home to check for loose power lines, gas leaks, and structural damage.

The Department of Environmental Health recommends avoiding activities such as swimming, surfing, and diving for 72 hours after it rains. Research has shown that the risk of infection is the highest during and the day after rain, and declines to around normal levels after three days. After your home has been hit by a hurricane, the recovery process can be extensive, from returning home from an evacuation to assessing and rebuilding from its damages. Use these tips to get you and your family back on your feet. If you have been affected by a hurricane, the aftermath of clean up and transitioning into a 'new normal' can be the hardest part.

Returning Home

If you evacuated, the first step of the aftermath is to listen to local news outlets to find out when it is safe to return to your home. Do not return until the storm has completely passed and local officials have given your neighborhood the go-ahead. Even after the storm has passed, make sure you are aware of any extended rainfall or subsequent flooding in your area, due to the outer bands of the storm system, the storm surge, or rivers or lakes flooding.

Safety Tips for Hurricane Clean-Up

When you return home, you will have plenty of work to do. Be sure to put safety first:

  • Stay away from loose or dangling power lines.

  • Avoid drinking or using tap water until you are sure it has not been contaminated.

  • Don't eat food from your refrigerator if its temperature has risen above 40° F for two hours or longer.

  • Stay out of any building that is surrounded with water.

  • Wear protective clothing and be cautious when cleaning up to avoid injury.

  • Be on the lookout for loose tree branches, parts of buildings or other types of debris when you are outside.

  • Drive only when absolutely necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed-out bridges.

Facing the Future After A Natural Disaster

Take as many photos of any damages done to your home or property as possible for insurance purposes.

If you do have to rebuild any part of your house, it may be worthwhile to look into storm-proofing your home for future tropical storms or hurricanes. Its important to install hurricane shutters, upgrade and strengthen your roof and strengthe garage doors. Of course, you'll need to take the time to clean up nearby trees that could fall over in strong winds. That's one of the biggest challenges in the clean up effort.

Rebuilding will take time. Keep your spirits up with these tips:

  • Keep short-term and long-term goals in mind. For example, if your roof has been damaged, put a tarp over your roof first and then begin thinking about a long-term fix.

  • Don't take on larger rebuilding projects than you have the knowledge and physical capability to do safely.

  • Ask for help, or hire a professional.

  • Always keep safety first. Don't try to begin rebuilding before the storm has passed and don't be alarmed if your local hardware store is overcrowded or low on supplies, as it is likely that lots of your neighbors are also patching up hurricane damages.

  • Remember that emotional healing takes time - if you have lost something or someone, counseling could be a good option for you and/or your family.

While you are recovering from a storm, remember that the process will be gradual and if damage has been widespread, be patient with things like power restoration. Be sure to keep yours and your family's health a priority during this trying time.

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