After major storms our lives can change drastically. These disasters affect everyone to some extent. Relief supplies and other aid will be arriving as quickly as possible, but it may take several days. Try to remain calm, patient and understanding. Your attitude affects you and everyone around you. Remember that the longest and hardest part of dealing with a hurricane is the recovery.
There may be residual flooding and roads may be blocked for days or weeks, making damaged areas inaccessible. This may mean that you will not be allowed back to your home for days, or possibly weeks.
Re-Entry After a Storm
Gaining access to your residence or business will require a form of identification (Driver's License, electric bill, etc.) Some municipalities require Hurricane passes, obtained from respective cities.
Emergency workers want your return home to be as safe as possible and need time to clear safe access and secure hazards. Listen to local media for re-entry information and do not go into unsafe areas. Drive only if absolutely necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed out bridges. Do not go sightseeing.
If you evacuated out of the area, consider staying away for a few extra days. Before you decide to return, consider the following:
Power may be out for an undetermined period of time. This means no air conditioning, no lights, no refrigeration, no water pump, toilet flushing, and in many cases no stove.
Telephone service may be out or limited. This includes 911 calling. Lack of power and damaged facilities will affect both landline telephones and cellular telephone service. Use your phone for emergencies only. Texts may go through before voice calls.
County and municipal water supplies may be unsafe to drink without boiling or chemical treatment. Treat all water as unsafe until you are notified that it is safe.
Sewer lift stations may not work, meaning toilets will not flush and sinks will not drain, and they may backup into your home or property. When you do return, some damage may not be readily apparent.
Inspect your home for damage. Start at the outside and work your way inside. Check for water and sewer line damage. Check the electrical system. Turn off the main breaker until you are sure the system is safe. Check for natural gas and/or bottled gas leaks. Do not enter or stay in a structure if you smell gas.
Be careful when you go outside and pay attention to where you walk and stand. Avoid any downed wires or standing water. Report downed wires to your utility company or to emergency services.
Check above you for low hanging objects or loose things that could fall.
Beware of wild animals that might be dangerous. Fire ants, bees, wasps, snakes, rodents and wild animals will be seeking high ground. They can create health and safety hazards.
Be careful of domestic animals, even ones you know. They may be frightened or injured and more dangerous than you expect.
Have all your insurance documents ready and be patient
Residents and property owners are encouraged to register for FEMA Disaster Individual Assistance as soon as it is made available, even if the extent of damage is not immediately clear. The days following a major storm are busy and the FEMA deadline may pass quickly. Property owners can always update their information with FEMA as the recovery continues.
When help does arrive, some may be in the form of the unscrupulous fortune seekers. Do not sign repair contracts until you have checked out the contractor. Do not pay for any services until the work has been completed. Ask for a valid county contractor's license. Is the contractor bonded? Does the price seem fair? Are high-pressure tactics being used?
Report the suspicious contractor to authorities to be checked out. If you see unfairly high prices being charged, report it. Local authorities want to help our residents by requiring competence and fairness.
Get additional information at https://www.disasterassistance.gov/. More details about this will be shared in the event of a disaster declaration in Lee County.
For more information contact your local Emergency Management office.