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The Aftermath: How to Recover from a Hurricane

If you have been affected by a hurricane, learn tips for safely returning home, repairing any damages to your home and staying healthy.

To some extent, hurricanes can be tracked, planned for, stocked up for and braced for. But unfortunately, no matter how well you prepare for the hurricane, a relentless storm system can overtake everything in its path.

If you have been affected by a hurricane, the aftermath of clean up and transitioning into a "new normal" can be the hardest part. Additionally, if your home has been hit by a hurricane, the recovery process can be extensive—from returning home from an evacuation to assessing and rebuilding from its damages.

Use these tips to get you and your family back on your feet.

Return home when it is deemed safe

If you evacuated, the first step of the aftermath is to listen to local news outlets to find out when it is safe to return to your home. Do not return until the storm has completely passed and local officials confirmed your neighborhood is safe for your return.

Stay aware of extended rainfall and flooding

Even after the storm has passed, make sure you are aware of any extended rainfall or subsequent flooding in your area, due to the outer bands of the storm system, storm surge or rivers or lakes flooding.

Stay safe while cleaning up after the hurricane

Once you get home, you might have a lot of work to do to get your house back in good shape. Be sure to put safety first:

  • Avoid drinking or using tap water until you are sure it has not been contaminated.
  • Be on the lookout for loose tree branches, parts of buildings or other types of debris when you are outside.
  • Don't eat food from your refrigerator if its temperature has risen above 40 F for two hours or longer.
  • Drive only when absolutely necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed-out bridges.
  • Stay away from loose or dangling power lines.
  • Stay out of any building that is surrounded with water.
  • Wear protective clothing and be cautious when cleaning up to avoid injury.

Make strategic repairs to your home

Take as many photos of any damages done to your home or property as possible for insurance purposes. If you do have to rebuild any part of your house, it may be worthwhile to look into storm-proofing your home for future tropical storms or hurricanes. You can do this by installing hurricane shutters, a strengthened roof, strengthened garage doors or cleaning up nearby trees that could fall over in strong winds.

Rebuilding—both literally and emotionally—will take time. Keep your spirits up with these tips:

  • Keep short-term and long-term goals in mind. For example, if your roof has been damaged, put a tarp over your roof first and then begin thinking about a long-term fix.
  • Don't take on larger rebuilding projects than you have the knowledge and physical capability to do safely.
  • Don't be afraid to ask someone for help or hire a professional.
  • Always keep safety first. Don't try to begin rebuilding before the storm has passed, and don't be alarmed if your local hardware store is overcrowded or low on supplies. It is likely that lots of your neighbors are also patching up hurricane damages.
  • Remember that emotional healing takes time. If you have lost something or someone, counseling could be a good option for you and/or your family.

While you are recovering from a storm, remember that the process will be gradual. If damage has been widespread, be patient with things such as power restoration. Be sure to keep your and your family's health a priority during this trying time.