What to Do and How to Help After a Hurricane
Hurricane Harvey is one of the most destructive storms to hit the U.S. and many homeowners who are returning to their property are discovering just how much damage the hurricane has caused. Not only has Hurricane Harvey dumped more rain on Houston and the surrounding areas of southeast Texas than any storm to ever hit the contiguous United States, but it has also caused an estimated $160 billion in damage. This estimate already makes Hurricane Harvey the costliest natural disaster in the history of the U.S., and some estimates put the cost of the damage as high as $190 billion.
The Houston area has a long road to recovery ahead to overcome the damage caused by the massive flooding of Hurricane Harvey. Many people from the affected areas are returning to their homes only to be overwhelmed by the amount of damage. ServiceMaster Restoration and Cleaning has been working around the clock with ServiceMasters from throughout the U.S. to help those in our area who have experienced major flood and storm damage to their property. If you are returning to your property for the first time since the storm, make sure you inspect your home for storm damage with the following checklist. If you want to help the hurricane victims, the second section of this blog contains information on how you can help the hurricane relief effort.
What to Do After the Hurricane
Those who evacuated their homes before the storm should not attempt to return home until authorities say that it is safe to do so. While you are away from your home, pay attention to weather reports for updates about your area and any official instructions. You should also contact family and friends to let them know where you are and that you are safe. Once the authorities give you clearance to return to your home, make sure you follow these tips:
- Be Aware of Flooding: There is a good chance that you will encounter flooded areas between the area where you took refuge and your home. You should not walk or drive through flood water because it is very dangerous. The most natural disaster related deaths are caused by flooding because it only takes six inches of moving water to knock someone down and not much more than that to move vehicles. There is also a risk of electrocution from a downed powerline in the water. If you see downed powerlines in your area, contact your utility company right away.
- Turn Off the Power: The first thing you should do when you return home is shut off the power. You can shut off the power yourself if you can safely get to the breaker box. If you cannot shut off your power safely, call the utility company and ask them to shut if off for you. This will reduce the risk of an electric shock, especially if there is standing water in your home.
- Look for Structural Damage: Before entering your home, check for severe damage to its foundation and structure. If there is serious foundational or structural damage, stay out of the home and call our professionals immediately to help assess the damage. If your home is safe to enter, check for swelling and warping in your walls, ceilings, and floors. Severely water damaged materials are at risk for decay or collapse.
- Document the Damage: Document as much of the damage to your home as possible to help with your insurance claim. Take photos of the damaged areas as well as an inventory of your personal belongings that have been damaged. Once you have fully documented the damage, you can start the flood cleanup and restoration process.
- Call your Insurance Provider: Call your insurance provider right away to get an inspection of the damage and start the claims process.
- Contact ServiceMaster Restoration and Cleaning: Our professionals at ServiceMaster Restoration and Cleaning, as well as other restoration professionals, have been working tirelessly to help our community recover from the effects of Hurricane Harvey. Make sure you call us to help minimize the damage and begin the restoration process. We are water damage restoration experts with advanced equipment for removing flood water and excess moisture from affected homes and businesses. Our technicians can also help address mold issues and restore your damaged personal belongings.
How to Help Victims of Hurricane Harvey
Hurricane Harvey has resulted in approximately 70 deaths and the displacement of tens of thousands of people. The hurricane relief effort can use as much help as possible to get emergency supplies to the victims and begin the rebuilding effort. You can help the victims of Hurricane Harvey in the following ways:
- Donate $10 by texting HARVEY to 90999
- Call 1-800-HELP NOW (1-800-435-7669) to donate over the phone
You can help the hurricane relief effort directly by donating your time in any of the following ways:
- Those who own a boat or high-water vehicle can help, contact the Harris County Sheriff’s Office at (713) 881-3100.
- Medical professionals such as nurses, physicians, EMTs, paramedics, and veterinarians can volunteer to help through Remote Area Medical.
- Truck drivers are wanted to help transport victims and volunteers.
Food, Shelter, and Other Support
There are many food banks throughout the state of Texas that are accepting donations of nonperishable food items. The following are just some of these food banks:
- Houston Food Bank
- Galveston County Food Bank
- Food Bank of the Golden Crescent
- Corpus Christi Food Bank
- Feeding Texas
- More Food Banks
You can offer your home to shelter hurricane victims and relief workers by visiting AirBnB’s Disaster Response page. You can also come to the affected areas and volunteer your time through these organizations:
The effects of Hurricane Harvey have been devastating and there is a long recovery process ahead for the people and areas that are affected. If you are returning to your home, please make sure you follow the safety guidelines above and contact ServiceMaster Restoration and Cleaning for flood and storm damage restoration. If you would like to contribute to the hurricane recovery, there are many ways that you can donate and get involved. With a collective effort, we can help overcome the effects of the storm and restore our community.