Distasters: Handling the Aftermath
Hurricanes in recent years like Katrina and Irene were definitely ones that delivered destructive calamity upon the country. The feeling of relief may be felt after the winds stop howling, but the aftermath hardly brings any relief even with its departure. Between taking lives of some and destroying houses, other physical facilities and properties, disasters shake us to our core and picking up the pieces can seem impossible.
With all these painful memories after the calamity, you find yourself at a loss on how to start all over again. How do you regain and put everything back into order when you have nothing left at all? If you have been a victim of a calamity similar to Hurricane Irene, here’s some guidance on where to start.
Remember: People Are the Most Important Thing
A natural disaster brings forth physical and emotional harm to anyone. But the most vital of all is to make certain that you and your family is safe. You have to ensure that your family members are in very good condition especially in the psychological aspect.
Stay away from the central location where the hurricane or any disaster has passed through, as much as possible. It is not safe to go around this dangerous area since most of the establishments have lost its strength and building structures are unstable. There are numerous threats in the form of live wires, exposed chemicals and other harmful elements that can take away your life without maintaining precautionary measures. So, it is better to seek help from highly-trained individuals to clear up the area and wait for their signal as to whether you can go back to your homes or not.
Communication among family members is also a very good source of emotional support. Being truthful in acknowledging that you need help and support should be expressed within the family. At the end of the day, your family is the only one who can help you get through these trying times in your life. Depression for many things lost like your properties, belongings and expensive house items is very likely to happen. But, only your family can uplift your spirits that everything will be just fine as long as you are there for each other. It will be very beneficial for all of you to keep on reminding each other that you can reconstitute everything and forget the bittersweet memories.
Ask For Help
Once every member in the family is secured, talk to your insurance agent about what you can claim for the damages in your property. Your insurer’s claim adjuster will look at the extent of damages that has been brought by the hurricane after a claim is made, but consider inviting your insurer or a local representative from your insurance company to see the damage for themselves. This is more practical to do so that you can easily convince them and persuade them into prioritizing to process efficiently your insurance claim. If in case they will ask further questions on technical matters in rebuilding your house, you can consult for a second opinion from an independent contractor who has the expert knowledge about construction and material expenses or even the duration of the restoration process. Your insurance agent and the third party contractor can talk to each other to justify your insurance entitlement and eventually, facilitate speedy restructuring of your house.
Coordinate with power supply companies, water supply providers and the like to know about the status of power and water lines in your area. Avoid loitering around because accidents from gas leaks or uncontrolled electric flow are common during these times.
If you see other people in the community cleaning-up, you may want to join them and start up the rehabilitation process. Fallen trees and heavy rocks are easier to clean up if people in the neighborhood will work together. Remember that you are part of a larger community than your family, thus, you must be willing to share in the communal objective of eradicating the trash in your community.
Recycling versus Disposing
Since you have just witnessed and experience a natural calamity, expect that there is nothing left of your numerous possessions, even the last piece of clothing that you have. If ever there is a slight chance that you can retrieve old things or those that you think are long-lasting, better think twice whether to recycle it or to dispose it. If you decided to reuse those items, double-check if they can really be utilized and before you use it, make sure that you do sanitary precautions. If that is not the case, then simply throw stuffs that are immaterial. You may also want to apply these sorting principles not only for clothing items but even for electrical gadgets, small house appliances, wall fixtures or carpets.
Do One Last Safety Check Before Re-Building
Once the damage to your home has been cleaned and effected materials/belongings removed, it’s time to start re-building, right? Wrong. Before you start to re-build, it’s wise to have a professional do one last safety check to see if the infrastructure of the house needs repairs. Sometimes only after removing damaged walls, ceilings, or floors will you notice structural damage or leaks in gas or water pipes. Common issues like flooding can compromise the integrity of your electrical system. The time to fix these issues is now, otherwise you may end up doing the work twice.
Also, be sure to that the house is properly cleaned and sanitized before rebuilding. Flooding often brings sewage and other unsanitary materials into your home. Additionally, mold is a common issue after floods mainly because proper steps were not taken to prevent it. The safety of yourself and your family should be your number one concern, so don’t skimp on this important step.
When a disaster strikes your home, it can sometimes be an opportunity in disguise. It’s an opportunity to learn from mistakes and build a smarter, safer, and more durable home. Perhaps flooding could have been preventable, the foundation might need improvements, or perhaps there’s a more durable material/design you could consider. If there’s a time to make these kinds of improvements, it’s now.
Improvements don’t necessarily have to be related to the cause of the damage, either. If you need to build a new roof/siding/windows, it can be an opportunity to go with more energy efficient options. Instead of replacing only the two old windows that were broken in the storm, consider replacing the rest of them at the same time. Basement flooded and destroyed your hot water heater? What about spending a little extra on an energy efficient tank-less.
Get Back Into Daily Routines
Just because your house is completely underwater doesn’t mean your entire life must come to a halt. That may seem completely unrealistic right now if you’ve just suffered a disaster, but often we surprise ourselves with our own strength. Just remember #1: people are what matters. Perhaps you may choose to take a breather for a time while you make arrangements for repairs, but a big part of the process of feeling whole again is getting back to your normal day-to-day routines. If you let this disaster affect your entire life, it can compound the problem. Don’t expect your job or school to have sympathy that your house was caught in a landslide. Instead, use your daily routines to take your mind off of the problems for a while.Of course, every situation is different, and some circumstances require more drastic attention than others. But even if your home is no more, as long as you have your health: you must move on.