- Be safe, be smart.
- Consider your family’s health and safety needs.
- Continue listening to weather radio and/or local radio or television stations or updates on your mobile device. Your local media will let you know about local, state and federal relief plans as appropriate.
- Be aware of fire and electrocution possibilities. Read 5 Areas to Check After a Fire or Storm.
- If there is a storm surge, flash flooding or flooding:
- Stay away from flooded roads, rising streams and storm drains. The power of moving water could sweep you into trouble and you do not know how deep the water actually is.
- Moving water only six inches deep can sweep you off your feet, according to the National Weather Service.
- If you must travel, check vehicles for damage and give way to emergency vehicles at all times.
- If you and your family are safe and healthy and conditions outdoors are safe, consider the needs of your neighbors.
WHN TIP – The Media: Storms make captivating news — downed trees, hail damage and flooding. If a reporter asks to speak with you, it is your choice whether or not to grant an interview. It is OK to say no. If you consider an interview, pause and reflect on your and your family’s welfare before you decide whether to answer questions.
Working With Authorities, Organizations, and Contacting Others
As soon as it’s safe, local and regional authorities — such as a sheriff or police officers, firefighters, ambulance services and state or municipal service workers — will be dispatched to severely affected areas.
Relief organizations and volunteers might be dispatched as well.
Remember to tell friends and relatives that you are safe.
Depending on the severity of the flooding, the time it takes to receive financial assistance may vary. Remember to contact all possible options for assistance:
Check our RESOURCES section for more information about filing for disaster aid.
Document the Damage
If at all possible, take the time to document the damage. This helps with insurance claims.
For more articles on spotting and documenting storm damage, returning back home and undertaking home repairs after a storm, check our ARTICLES AND MORE section.
Need to make repairs or rebuild your home? Read our 4 Steps to Rebuilding and Renovating a Damaged Home article.
In many cases, waiting a few weeks (or months) to repair your car or house will cause no further damage, and prices are sometimes more reasonable after the initial rush is over. However, if the roof of your home is leaking or your car’s windows are broken, repairs should be made as quickly as possible.
- If you are insured, ask your insurance agent to provide an exact list of what is covered in the rebuilding process. Ask them to explain what items will not be covered by insurance.
- Also ask for a list of preferred vendors and if you need to hire from the insurance company’s preferred list.
- Repair estimates
- Typically, you will be asked to get several estimates.
- Get an estimate for full repairs. You’re entitled to have your home restored to its full glory, not just patched up. Keep the receipts!
- Be safe, be smart
- Designate a relative or friend to act as the spokesperson between the insurance company, construction crew, family and others involved in the rebuilding process.
- Wait to hire contractors until the insurance company has assessed the damage.
- Contact your local building permit office to check and see what permits you need before you begin.
Visit our Storm – ARTICLES AND MORE section for tips on hiring a contractor or restoration firm and other rebuilding tips.
WHN Expert TIP – Water Damage Clean-Up Tips: Greg Kistler, a ServPro cleanup and restoration specialist from South Washington County in Minnesota, provides water damage cleanup advice in this podcast.
If You Have Insurance — Filing a Claim
Read our article on filing an insurance claim for information on questions to ask your agent, how to keep detailed records and the claims process.
WHN TIP – Claims Adjusters: Do not have your home repaired or property replaced until both have been evaluated by a claims adjuster. A claims adjuster is an agent appointed by your insurance company. To learn more about claims adjusters or what to ask an adjuster, read our Working With a Claims Adjuster article.
Re-stocking Emergency Kits
- Replace items used from your Home Disaster Preparedness Kit and your Car Emergency Kit. (Download the pdfs.)
- Review and update your emergency plan.
- Take the time to evaluate what you would do differently if you had the chance.
- Be sure to evaluate all aspects of your emergency preparedness plan: evacuation plan, home and family preparedness, disaster kits, etc.
- Read our Storm – Get Prepared section for more preparedness tips.
The information provided here is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical or legal advice. These tips are from first responders, lawyers, insurance agents and people who have shared real-life advice; always check with a doctor, lawyer or appropriate professional you trust before making any legal or healthcare-related decisions.
Thank You …
A special thank you to the first responders, emergency workers, government officials, lawyers, insurance agents and people who gave us their time and insight.