I received this email yesterday from a portrait client, and I thought it was very straight forward and informative. I hope this helps some of you in the process of recovery and rebuilding.
My good friends,
[Since I am] Based on the Jersey Shore, I have seen amazing destruction recently from Hurricane Sandy. I have decided to address storm cleanup issues to help all those that are dealing with this currently. If you have not been affected, then you are fortunate, take a moment to say a prayer of thanks and please pass this information on to others in need.
The first issue to keep in mind with any event like this is your safety! Be aware of any downed electrical lines, debris and unsafe conditions. If your house has been flooded, make sure the main breaker at your electrical panel has been turned off so there is no risk of being electrocuted when the power is returned. If you are unsure as to whether a condition is safe or not, call the electric company or local police department for assistance.
The next step is how to begin the cleanup and who is available to answer your questions. Always start with your insurance company to see what help they will provide and how to go about filing a claim with them. They will walk you through their process, what you need to do, when someone will come out to walk through with you and provide an estimate for the repairs needed to get your home back to normal. Each company is different, so make sure to contact yours for the proper procedures. One element is the same with all companies – take lots of pictures to document all the damage! In general, you will be allowed to proceed with repairs that will prevent further damage to the home. If there is a broken window or hole in the roof, then take care of this. Any wet items should be removed from the home right away to prevent mold growth and allow the home to air out. If your home has sustained structural damage or has been listed as unsafe to occupy, then it may need to be demolished and further repairs may be futile at this point. Ask your insurance agent how to proceed.
For those without flood insurance or to cover items not covered by flood insurance, FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) can help. FEMA can be contacted at www.disasterassistance.gov. After you fill out the online forms, they will get in touch with you to schedule a visit if you qualify for assistance. They will review the damage and then issue a report and tell you how much of a grant you can receive. These grants are to cover items such as medical expenses, clothing, repairs, heating equipment and cleanup.
Another option available is the SBA (Small Business Administration), which offers loans to homeowners and small businesses to cover expenses related to storm damage. They can be reached at www.disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/. These loans are available to cover the gaps in insurance for repairs and personal property and are offered as low as 1.7 percent and can be repaid over 30 years.
Due to the severity of damage, some areas have been closed off and owners not allowed to return to their homes. This has been done to allow the town and state time to clear roads of sand and debris, turn off gas mains and remove electrical lines. After these areas are safe, the Department of Emergency Management will allow access to homes to remove belongings. Check their website to see up to date information, http://www.state.nj.us/njoem/ .
When hiring contractors to work on your house, make sure you use licensed contractors that will perform the work correctly. Do not pay a large portion of the cleanup or repairs up front, this should be done as the work progresses to avoid being scammed.
This storm has shown that all of us can band together to help our neighbors and lift each other up. We are family, friends and countrymen doing what we need to in order to help our fellow neighbors. Reach out to help someone today in this time of need.
We at PDRdesigns are committed to treating everyone with respect and honesty and continuing the cleanup, repairs and rebuilding necessary to put our neighbors’ lives and homes back together. Please contact us with any questions you may have or to schedule us to come out to review your project.