April 7, 2021
Severe storms (such as hurricanes and tornadoes) can strike anywhere in the United States. If your area is affected, stay alert to potential dangers and problems. Use caution when dealing with post-storm damage—or when returning home if you evacuated. Here are the five steps you need to take after a storm disaster.
Don’t go home until it’s safe. Your local authorities will tell you when it’s safe to return home. But watch out: Roads and bridges may be blocked or damaged, and (especially after a hurricane) flooding can last for days. To check road conditions in your area, dial 511 (toll-free).
Don’t walk or drive through ﬂoodwaters. You can’t tell how deep floodwaters are—and water may be electrically charged from submerged power lines. Muddy water can conceal sharp objects and other dangers. Just six inches of moving water can knock you down or carry off your vehicle.
Tell friends and family you’re OK. Call your loved ones and put their minds at ease. You can also register with the American Red Cross’ Safe and Well website so others can find you.
Document any damage right away. Immediately take both still pictures and videos. The more documentation you have, the easier it is to file your claim.
Make only temporary repairs—if it’s safe. Do only what’s needed to avoid further damage, such as covering broken windows with plastic to keep rain out. Don’t make (or hire anyone to make) permanent repairs until your insurance adjuster examines your house and files a claim.
Don’t hire unlicensed contractors. Disasters can bring out the best in people, but also the worst—including dishonest, unlicensed contractors who take advantage. Before you contract for repairs, make sure your insurance claim has been filed. Then check out every contractor on the Internet, using free sites such as Yelp or Better Business Bureau. Also, do not pay for work in advance, and avoid anyone who demands full or half payment upfront.
If you can’t stay in your house, the “loss of use” coverage in many homeowner’s insurance policies may help pay for temporary lodging—if your damage is documented with a valid claim. Check your policy or ask your agent to see if you have this coverage, what it pays, and how long it lasts. To find a rental house or apartment, check FEMA’s Interim Housing Resources. If you need emergency shelter, text SHELTER and your ZIP code to 43362 (example: SHELTER01234).
When your family is safe and secure, contact us so we can help you with your mortgage:
After a disaster, people move as quickly as they can to help—but things often take longer than we’d like. Expect federal damage inspection teams to conduct extensive reviews of affected areas. Also, utility crews will work hard to restore services, and insurance adjusters will move rapidly to get claims filed. But extreme hardship cases come first, so be patient.
If you have mortgage questions, email us at (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call us at 800-365-7107. If you can’t return home, log in to your account and update your account with your temporary address and phone. If you can’t access the Internet, call 800-365-7107 and give us your temporary contact information by phone.