hurricane damaged home in Florida

Homeowners Guide to Storm Damage – Cleaning Up After a Hurricane

‍Hurricanes are terrifying while they’re whipping through the area, but the cleanup and repairs can be just as frightening. Damage from a hurricane is more than just broken branches or a leaky roof; it’s also property devaluation, risk to personal safety, disruption of utilities, and repair costs.

Unfortunately, hurricanes are inevitable. They can strike anywhere in the Gulf of Mexico or Atlantic Coast without warning. Florida is uniquely situated to be hit by hurricanes throughout the entire state, which is why it has experienced almost half of all recorded US hurricanes.

If your home was damaged by a hurricane, follow the steps below to facilitate your repairs.

Step 1: Document the Damage

Once the storm has passed and you’ve made sure you and your family are safe, you should document the damage to your property as soon as possible to make your insurance claim easier and help expedite repairs.

You’ll want to document things like broken windows, roof damage, and any flooding in your home. If utilities are disrupted, such as if your electricity goes out, note that as well.

Record the date you started the documentation process. Use a smartphone or camera to take pictures of the damage, making sure to get a variety of overview photos as well as closeups (if safe to do so). If you have a smart home, you can use a connected app to document and track the damage to your property.

Step 2: Remove Debris and Other Objects

After the storm has passed, the real hurricane cleanup begins. Before you can estimate repairs, you will need to remove any trees, branches, or other objects that may have fallen on your property during the storm. If you don’t remove these objects, they’ll cause more damage to your property, and could pose a risk to your personal safety. Be careful when removing these objects as they may be damaged and could potentially fall and injure someone. Hiring a professional tree removal service or hauler may be your best option. In most cases, these costs will be reimbursed through your insurance claim. Just make sure to keep copies of any estimates, receipts, or invoices to submit to your carrier.

Step 3: Estimate the Repairs and Determine if You Need Professional Help

Once the debris is removed, you’ll be able to assess your property for damage and determine if repairs are needed. If there are broken windows, siding, or shingles missing from your roof, you’ll want to repair those as soon as possible.

Board up broken windows while waiting for repairs to be made. Damaged roofs need to be tarped to prevent leaks and further interior damage. If you have severe flooding or water-damaged carpets and floors, you’ll want to call for professional help. Restoration contractors know how to test for mold and are certified to clean surfaces and contents to safely remove and prevent the fungus from growing back.

If you don’t have the skills or resources to make the structural repairs, you may consider hiring a contractor. Be patient and realize that it may be difficult to find a reputable contractor due to the surge in demand. Just know that if you file a storm repair claim, it is the insurance company that sets the price for the repairs. Make sure the contractors come out to inspect the damage and provide an estimate or detailed inspection report. That way, if the going market rate exceeds the initial insurance adjuster estimate, you have documentation. Sophisticated contractors, like Artisan Rebuilders, are experts in managing claims for homeowners and make sure that the claim covers all necessary repairs.

In the wake of a hurricane, it’s important to take immediate action to safeguard your property and document the damage. Protect your property from further damage by removing any loose items and debris, boarding up broken windows, and tarping your roof. Then estimate the repairs and determine if you need professional help.

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