Returning home to assess property damage following a hurricane can be daunting—especially if your home was in a particularly hard-hit area in the storm’s path. You could face power outages, water and wind damage, standing water, plus mold and grime.
Still, an effective cleanup is possible if you plan carefully. Here are suggestions for how to stay safe, limit further damage to your home and ensure you’re documenting property damage appropriately for when it’s time to sort out the poststorm mess.
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1. Don’t rush to return
Head home to assess hurricane damage only when local authorities say it’s safe to do so. Wait until flood waters have adequately receded and roadways have been cleared of fallen debris and power lines.
2. Come prepared with proper safety gear
Your home may not have electricity when you return, so pack flashlights or battery-powered lanterns and charge your smartphone beforehand. Also, remember when hurricane floodwaters enter your home, the water can bring with it “an unknown level of contaminants,” says David Ragsdale, a production manager with Servpro Industries. To protect yourself against potential bacteria and mold, pack plenty of N95 masks and gloves. Ragsdale recommends latex or nitrile gloves — or even simple dishwashing gloves—for cleanup.
3. Check the exterior for safety hazards and structural damage
Before entering the house, check for evidence of downed power lines, gas line leaks, large tree limbs that may have fallen on your roof, or other signs of major structural damage. If you note any of these safety risks, don’t enter without getting a professional opinion about your home’s structural safety.