Hurricane Cleanup Tips to Make the Process Quick and Safe

By Courtney Hall

Hurricane Irene has come and gone and the cleanup begins. With the 2011 hurricane season in full force you need to be prepared. The stress of post storm cleanup can be overwhelming.

Here are some short term tips you can follow to make your hurricane cleanup as hassle-free as possible:

  • Be Cautious. If you are in a disaster zone now is not the time to test out your superhero capabilities. Avoid becoming a statistic, don’t wade through knee-high water or venture out onto your roof. Let’s just leave that to the emergency rescue teams.
  • Call your insurance agent. Many insurance companies already have programs in place to file claims for both auto and home insurance policies due to the advanced warning. Many companies have been updating their websites to give customers the most up-to-date alerts. You can also save time and start your claims process online or even with a mobile app.
  • Document damages by taking pictures. Make sure you document all damages by taking pictures and write up a brief description about what happened. This will speed up your claims process and if you have trouble getting through over the phone, you can look back over your descriptions to better remember details. But keep in mind most homeowners policies DO NOT cover flood damage.
  • Be resourceful and minimize damage. This usually consists of letting things dry out. Lay wet or damp items on an absorbent towel or drying rack. Use fans to help prevent mildew and unpack any boxes that suffered water damage.
  • Schedule repairs. The urgency depends on each individual situation and your insurance provider may be able to offer a referral. But it’s always a good idea to go with someone whom you have worked with before and trust. Just make sure you take the proper precautions i.e. check licenses if applicable, try and deal with only reputable companies and never pay with cash, always use either a check or credit card.
  • Save your receipts. These come in very handy because you have proof of what you had to spend due to storm. Some policies will cover evacuation expenses such as your hotel, transportation, food and clothing. By making sure to keep all your receipts you will have a detailed record of everything that came out of your pocket.

Here are some long term tips to prepare for the hurricane season:

  • Prepare a hurricane budget. This budget needs to include repetitive costs associated with each and every hurricane warning – such as filling cars with gasoline, replenishing ice, propane and water and the amount of money taken out of savings to have “cash on hand” in the event of banks and ATM machines not up and running. Gas alone is costing families $50 to $100 to fill up their tanks. Multiply that by four weeks and a family who owns two cars, $400 to $800 dollars can be spent on gas alone.
  • Start a “Hurricane Fund.” Families should create a hurricane fund to help them financially survive a long hurricane season. By saving $20 out of each pay period, a family can gather over $1,000. It is well documented that even hurricanes that DON’T hit your area will cost you money just by preparing for the worst.

These tips will help you better manage the hurricane cleanup process. During this stressful time it’s important to stay calm, cool and collected! By following these tips I guarantee the process will be less taxing. Remember the 2011 hurricane season is still in full force. Don’t wait until it’s too late, start preparing NOW!