What to do When Mother Nature Does Her Worst to Your Home
Mother Nature isn’t always nurturing. Sometimes she’s downright cruel. We’ve seen recent floods in Missouri, earthquakes in Oklahoma, drought in California, and winter is just gearing up for storm season.
Regardless of the type of damage your home has sustained, whether it’s a tree falling on your garage or water up to the windowsills, there are some basic steps you want to take if your home has suffered from an overdose of the elements.
Asses any Additional Risks
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency the first thing you should do is to check for any visible structural damage. Examine the foundation for cracks or holes. Check any pilot lights. If the power has gone out it may be prudent to turn off the main breaker switch until the utility company is available to check for damage. You will also want to check gas and water lines. If you suspect damage to water, gas, electric, or sewer lines contact your local provider.
Before you move anything other than what you need to move to be sure the premises are safe, take pictures. Still shots and video are both helpful in documenting the damage.
Avoid Contamination and Dangerous Objects
If you’re dealing with flood waters or debris keep in mind it could be contaminated by sewage or chemicals. Wear heavy rubber gloves when touching possessions that have come in contact with the water and throw away any food items affected. Breakage from high winds, earthquakes, or falling trees can leave behind shards of glass or splinters of wood as well as torn metal edges. All of those can cut so don’t try to clear even one piece of the wreckage without heavy gloves.
Make Sure Your Home is Secured
If you own your home it’s your job to batten down the hatches so that no additional damage occurs. Nail boards over broken windows and tack tarps over open roofs. When you’ve secured your home to the best of your ability take more pictures so that you can show you’ve taken care of your responsibility.
Contact Your Insurance Agent
Of course, we don’t need to tell you to do that. You had it on your list. But do you have their number where you can find it if your home and records aren’t available? Record their information, including policy numbers, in your phone or on a “cloud” location. Even taking a picture of your policy and saving that picture in an easy to access storage location can give you a place to start when you need to get a hold of your agent.
Check with FEMA for Assistance
Your insurance agent should tell you if your region has officially been declared a “disaster area” but you can always check with FEMA directly. If that is the case you should have access to increased resources, including possible financial assistance.
Organize the Repairs
Now that you’ve done your due diligence it’s time to clean up the mess and make it all right. Always easier said than done. Be sure that your insurance company has cleared you to make changes — you may need to wait for an adjuster to assess damages in person before you begin to make the repairs. Keep good records of any conversation or on-site inspection and document, in writing and with pictures, every stage of the process.
Know That People are On Your Side
Natural disasters are always heart breaking and our thoughts are certainly with those families who have suffered losses from the recent floods. But we’re also uplifted to see how many people rally to fill sandbags, deliver food, rescue pets, and open their hearts to those who were affected.
Mother Nature may not always be kind, but her worst often brings out the best in HUMAN nature.
We’re here if you need to close on your dream home fast (we are, after all, the “home of the 8 Day Close”) and we can help you get the right mortgage for you even when your credit isn’t great. Call your local office, or fill out our easy on-line form, to get one of our licensed loan officers working on the right financing to get you into the home of your dreams!