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Even if you’ve done everything possible to prepare, a hurricane can still surprise you. The sustained winds may be stronger than expected, the storm could linger longer than planned with more inches of rain, and the storm surge could be higher than predicted. While every situation is unique, there are some basic first steps that can help you start repairing hurricane damage quickly.
Whether you evacuated or rode out the storm at home, the first thing you’ll want to do is get outside, see what’s happened, and assess the scope of your property damage. Yet, now is the time for caution.
DON’T be fooled by the eye—the storm isn’t over. If you evacuated your home, don’t be tempted to use this lull to return. Wait until the all-clear is given for your area. If you remained in your home, stay inside until the storm is completely over.
When you are ready to venture out, DO wait until it’s fully daylight so you can see and avoid downed power lines and trees.
Be on the lookout for fires and aware of the smell of gas, which could mean a broken gas line. If you smell gas, DO immediately alert your gas utility and/or 911 and leave the area. DON’T attempt to fix any potential leaks on your own.
DO contact your homeowner’s insurance agent and find out if they will be sending an adjuster to the area. Even if they plan on sending someone, DO take photos of all sides of your home’s exterior as well as the neighboring lots.
DO assess if your home is structurally sound before you enter. See this article for signs your home has structural damage. If you are not confident about your ability to make this assessment on your own, DON’T go it alone. Enlist the help of a good general contractor or home inspector.
If you cannot enter your home, DO contact your local chapter of the American Red Cross to find out about housing assistance and other disaster relief.
The first thing you’ll want to do is cover any places where weather can enter your home. DO cover a damaged roof with a tarp that’s weighted down to prevent it from blowing away in high winds.
If you have broken windows, DO cover them as best you can. If there is widespread damage to your area, supplies may be in short demand, so you might have to get creative. Plywood, OSB, and plastic sheeting are all options—even cardboard and packing tape can serve in a pinch.
If you home has experienced flooding, DO follow these first steps for cleaning up and drying out.
If you are staying in your home while you clean up and repair, DO set up a “sanity area.” Make sure there is at least one clean and dry space you can retreat to. Once power is back on, DO set up an a/c unit or space heater here to ensure you have a comfortable place to recharge.
After making your home weathertight in the days immediately following the hurricane, you’ll need to decide whether you’ll tackle the restoration yourself, hire a general contractor, or restoration company, or a combination.
DO contact your mortgage lender (and any other financial institutions where you have outstanding loans) to request a temporary pause on payments. Some lenders may allow you to put these on hold for a few months, leaving you with some extra cash in the short term to repair the worst of the damage as quickly as possible. However, DON’T assume that interest doesn’t continue to accrue or that there won’t be associated fees to pay later.
DO make a repair list and prioritize the order in which those repairs need to be made. Contractors are usually very busy in the aftermath of a hurricane where there's been major damage, so DO be prepared to wait on anything that’s not essential.
Hurricane recovery is practically in our DNA. We weathered our first hurricane in Galveston in 1932 and we’ve been helping our neighbors repair hurricane damage to their homes and businesses ever since.
We’re a little more sophisticated than we were back then. Today, we’ve got a crisis team and a solid distribution network including our own railyard. We know supplies may be tight in your region, so we’ll do everything we can to bring in what’s needed to help you rebuild. Even though we’ve changed with the times, our philosophy remains the same: We aim to make life easier for those who build.