People who have recently moved to Florida may have never experienced a hurricane before. It is important to know how to prepare for a hurricane and handle its aftermath.
Longtime Florida residents who have been through hurricanes before might be more familiar with the experience but can still benefit from these reminders.
Before the hurricane
When a hurricane approaches, you have the option of staying home or evacuating, unless evacuations are mandatory. If you stay home, stay inside your house until the hurricane has passed, and the winds have calmed down.
Learn where your electricity and water valves are and turn them off if you feel they pose a hazard. Try to not use candles, since they can cause a fire and the fire department might not be able to respond.
What to do immediately after the hurricane
If you evacuated, do not come back until you receive permission. Do not try to sneak back to check on damage. You may put yourself in danger from debris or downed power lines.
When you do return home or venture out, be careful. You can still be injured after the storm is over. Do not go out unless you must.
Survey your home for damage, but do not touch or move anything. Take pictures of all damage and contact your insurance company as soon as you can. Your pictures are evidence when you file an insurance claim.
Some damage could be minimal and you may be capable of taking care of it yourself. Make sure you dress properly, use adequate equipment and take all safety precautions when doing your own repairs.
Follow any requirements for disposing of items. Many times, cities and towns will enact specific cleanup instructions for residents throwing away items. Consider separating your trash into different piles, to make cleanup easier and more organized.
For repairs that require the help of a professional, research state licensed professionals with good reputations. Be aware of scam artists or fraud schemes, as there is sometimes an increase in these in the days following a natural disaster. Keep all communications in writing and save all receipts and cost estimates.
Getting through the weeks ahead
When the hurricane is over, be ready for some tough days or weeks ahead. You may not have power for several days or be able to travel anywhere, since the roads could be blocked.
Check on your neighbors if you can make it to them safely and contact your friends and family members to let them know you are safe.
Take advantage of the many programs and resources available to hurricane victims. Even if you stayed home, temporarily staying somewhere else after the hurricane could be necessary if there is too much damage to your home.
Filing your insurance claim
If this is your first hurricane, you might not be aware of how majorly it can affect your life and for how long.
This means that you are likely to have many questions or feel overwhelmed when it comes to filing an insurance claim for damages.
Fortunately, there are legal professionals who are experienced with handling hurricane damage claims that can guide you through the process, which can become complex. If insurance litigation becomes necessary, these professionals can represent your interests.