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The Aftermath: Recovering from a Hurricane

After your home has been hit by a hurricane, the recovery process can be vast and challenging, from returning home after an evacuation to assessing and repairing damages. Use these tips to get you and your family through this process.

To some extent, hurricanes can be tracked and planned for. No matter how prepared you might be, a storm system can overtake everything in its path. If you have been impacted by a hurricane, the aftermath of clean up and transitioning into a new routine can be a challenge.

After a hurricane, water may not be safe or clean. Germs and chemicals may be in the water. Listen to local officials to find out if your water is safe to use for drinking and bathing. Even if you have running water, you may need to boil it first before using it.

Returning home

If you evacuated, the first step of the aftermath is to listen to local news media outlets to determine if and when it is safe to return to your home. Don’t return until the storm has completely passed and local officials have notified you that your neighborhood is safe.

Even after the storm has passed, make sure you are aware of any extended rainfall or subsequent flooding in your area, due to the outer bands of the storm system, the storm surge, or rivers or lakes flooding.

Safety tips for hurricane clean-up

After you return home, you might have a lot of work to do to repair your house. Put safety first.

  • Stay away from loose or dangling power lines.
  • Look out for loose tree branches, parts of buildings or other debris.
  • Avoid drinking or using tap water until you are sure it not contaminated.
  • Don't eat food from your refrigerator if its temperature has risen above 40° F for two hours or longer.
  • Drive only when necessary. Avoid flooded roads and washed-out bridges.
  • Stay out of any building that is surrounded by water.
  • Wear protective clothing and be cautious when cleaning up.
  • Keep your hands clean. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if you do not have clean running water.

Rebuilding after a natural disaster

For insurance purposes, take photos of any damage done to your home or property. If you must rebuild any part of your house, you may consider storm-proofing your home for future weather incidents by installing hurricane shutters, a strengthened roof, strengthened garage doors and/or cleaning up nearby trees that could fall over in strong winds.

Rebuilding – literally and emotionally – will take time and patience. Keep your spirits up with these tips:

  • Keep short-term and long-term goals in mind. For example, if your roof has been damaged, put a tarp over your roof first and then begin figuring out a long-term fix.
  • Don't take on larger rebuilding projects than you have the knowledge and physical capability to do safely.
  • Don't be afraid to ask someone for help or to hire a professional.
  • Always put safety first. Don't try to begin rebuilding before the storm has passed. Don't be alarmed if your local stores are overcrowded or low on supplies, as it is likely that many of your neighbors are also repairing hurricane damages.
  • Remember that emotional healing takes time. It’s normal to feel stressed and upset after experiencing a hurricane or traumatic event. If you have lost something or someone, counseling could be a good treatment option for you and/or your family. Coping tips for adults and children are available.