Returning to homes filled with water and floating debris, many Florida residents are still struggling to understand how to rebuild, where the money will come from, and where to find the energy to start again. It’s all exhausting. Every last bit of it. From a wide lack of flood insurance to finding funds to rebuild, it’s all like a slow-moving nightmare.
But there are things you can do. Here are some actionable steps that you can take to find your way through the muck - and back to life.
Your Safety Comes First
Things shift during a storm. Things like your home’s foundation, pool cage, and roof. You might also come across some live wires, animals living inside of your home (alligators often seek higher grounds during floods), and sharp debris could be floating around inside of floodwaters. The best thing to do is to wait for the water to go down.
Once that has happened, make sure that your home is safe to inspect. Ask for professional help if you feel that it is needed. If you were displaced, and you’re ready to move back into your home, bring a flashlight with you - you may not have power right now.
Also, gather the following:
- Dust mask
- Hard sole shoes
- First Aid Kit
- Trash Bag
- Cleaning Supplies
- A long pole or stick - just in case some snakes are living inside of your home
The absolute first thing to do is to turn off your electricity.
- Turn off your home’s power through your breaker box
- If you have to wade through water to reach the breaker box - call an electrician.
Next, turn off the gas:
- Turn off your home’s gas
- If you smell gas inside of your home, call the gas company from an outside phone
Beware of structural damage:
- If you cannot open a door in your home because it is stuck at the top of the door, you may be dealing with some serious structural damage.
- When opening doors, stand back and wait a few minutes before entering - this will give anything that was leaning on your door time to shift.
- Proceed with caution.
Begin Debris Cleanup:
- Use a garbage bag to begin to clean up debris
- Most things will probably not be salvageable
- Save what you can and throw away anything severely damaged by water
Stop and Give Yourself a Break
You’ve been through a lot. It’s important not to try and clean up damage in one day. Take breaks, drink water, eat food, and find a safe place to rest while cleaning up your home.
You might be feeling the pressure of finances as you attempt to rebuild your home. Some lenders are allowing hurricane victims to delay payments. The lender Sallie Mae (for example) has some delayed payment options included in this press release. We will be following this post with other posts about hurricane relief, payment information, and how you can start to rebuild. Remember - take the time you and your family need to recover both physically and emotionally. It’s important.