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    Hurricane Guide

After the Storm is over

courtesy of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

The storm is over. You and your neighbors have just gone through the scare of your lives. You'd like to think it's all over, but the work facing you seems overwhelming.

Unfortunately, you are probably on your own. Outside help could take days to arrive. You'll need to set priorities and tackle the life-threatening situations before you handle the small things.

The following articles contain guidelines and tips to help you get started.

Hurricane has passed, but it's still dangerous
Just because the storm has ended doesn't mean the danger is over. More people die after a hurricane than during one. There may be no more wind or high water, but hazards still abound. A wrong step could be fatal.

Cleaning up after the storm
Many insurance policies will cover the cost of professional cleanup if you cannot move a big mess yourself. Check your policy. If you must do it yourself, take "before" photos or videotapes.

After the worst comes the work
Getting your house back to normal can help you get back to normal. But remember that damaged homes can pose danger. Take your time. Getting injured or making a bad decision because of haste will make a difficult situation worse.

Watch out for price gougers
Soon after the winds die down, people looking to turn a profit on the hurricane will show up. Be on the lookout for profiteers and price gougers.

Do research before hiring workers
Roofers, carpenters and people in other trades flock to Florida to help rebuild after storms. Most are honest and qualified, but some aren't.

Permits help ensure quality work
The statewide Uniform Building Code that went into effect in January 2002 was designed to protect homes from hurricane damage.

Use caution when inspecting damage
Getting your house back to normal can help you get back to normal. But remember that damaged homes can pose danger. Take your time. Getting injured or making a bad decision because of haste will make a difficult situation worse.

Advice on pursuing your claim after a hurricane
Try to call your agent immediately. Most major insurers have toll-free numbers.

Some answers on damage claims
The storm has passed, your insurance claim has been submitted and the adjuster has made a visit.

How to deal with utilities
After a big storm, expect basic services to be disrupted. Here's what to do:

Food and water safety
Before you cook, assess the safety of your food. Toss out any food that may have come in contact with floodwaters. When in doubt, throw it out. Remember that the young and the elderly are at the greatest risk for food poisoning.

Work quickly to stop mold
If your home is damaged by a hurricane, mold may begin growing almost immediately and, in most cases, your insurance policy won't cover the cleanup. Experts say allowing the mold to grow can affect your health as well as your property values.

Floodwaters and vehicles
During the storm, park your car away from trees that might be knocked down onto the vehicle.

Check sprinklers for damage
Hurricanes can damage many things, and while sprinkler systems might not be as visibly damaged as ripped roofs or flattened homes, they are vulnerable just the same.

Fences are not made storm-proof
If you're under the impression that your home's fence is hurricane-proof, think again.

Be safe when siphoning gas
With power lines down and portable generators getting cranked up, moving gasoline from one place to another can become a critical step.

Returning to your normal life may take some time and patience
One of the biggest headaches after a storm may be the loss of power.

Strategies for fighting stress
A guide for coping with the stress of a hurricane's aftermath.