Guidelines after the Hurricane: Recovery
Out of the four emergency phases, mitigation, preparation, response, and recovery, the recovery phase can take the longest. If you left your home during the hurricane, it is understandable to feel eager to return home, but it might be best to wait until local authorities say it’s safe to. Here are some points to remember once the storm has passed:
- Look for power lines: if you see downed or swaying powerlines, please inform the electric company, police, or firefighters.
- Wildlife: snakes, animals, and insects may have made their way into your home to escape rising water levels, and so it’s important to enter your home carefully if you’ve been gone for a number of days.
- Pictures: take photos of any damage to show the insurance company (Hurricane Safety, n.d.).
- Food: check the refrigerator for any food that might have went bad. If power has been out for four or more hours, throw away all perishable food.
- Remove any moisture: open doors and windows, and turn on fans and dehumidifiers if it’s safe to use electricity (CDC, 2014). However, don’t use a fan if mold has started to grow, as it can accelerate its growth.
- Treat mold: Use a wet vacuum to remove water. If water damage occurred in your home and it wasn’t dried with 24 to 48 hours, mold can begin to grow.
- Wear gear: when cleaning out your house, wear proper gear, such as goggles, gloves, or a mask, to prevent contact with mold, asbestos, and other elements.
- Certain lids make food unsafe: if food items with twist caps, snap lids, pop tops, home-canned food, or other foods where the packaging makes the food easily exposed to outside elements comes in contact with floodwater, throw it out because the water can contaminate the food.
- Store-bought canned food: if canned items touch floodwater, remove the label, wash the can, and clean it in one cup of bleach in five gallons of water and use a marker to label the can with both the food item and expiration date (CDC, 2017).
- The cleanup process after the storm can take time. Patience is needed to help get through this challenging period and remember, your neighbors and community are going through this, too. Rely on others for support.