Many homeowners as well as business owners will wake up tomorrow to the stark fact that the damage to their home and/or business is not insured. Patience will be the first order of business required to navigate the days ahead but will serve you well if you can manage. I will get to steps on what to do and not do shortly but cannot stress enough the magnitude of calls, emails and total overload your local insurance agent will face in the morning. Take a deep breath, grab your insurance policy and a cup of coffee and read it, thousands of hours can be saved tomorrow if you can come to terms that you are or are not covered before some poor soul at your insurance agent has to explain it to you twice. There is help, you do have options but none are quick and are just packed with stress, remember patience before you dial that phone.
You first order of business especially after a flood is to make sure that your home and buildings are structurally sound and safe for you and your family to stay. We are not all engineers but a little common sense can go a long way.
- If your home or business has been flooded, carefully turn off all power at the main breaker and do not restore until it has been inspected by a licensed electrician.
- Inspect the interior of your home for un-level floors, cracks in the walls and trim work that appears to have moved or has pulled away from the wall (signs of structural issues).
- Inspect the exterior of your home for scouring (dirt washed away from curtain wall or any presentation of your foundation). Undermined foundations, footing and piers can represent significant danger to your family.
- If you suspect structural damage please do not stay, saturated soils are very unstable.
- Protect your property as much as possible from further damage if you can do so safely.
- If your property has flooded, under no circumstance start your Heat and Air system up!
- If you hire a contractor for repairs….Know your contractor and insure they are licensed!!!
Once you are certain that your property is safe and after inspecting it make a list of the damage, nothing that you notice is too small to document and will be a great guide for you when discussing your needs with your Insurance/FEMA adjuster or contractor. Only after the above is complete are you ready to dial that phone, you will be aware, informed and heads above your neighbors that do not have a plan.
- Call your insurance agent, even if you do not have flood insurance, they can provide you with critical information that can help you and there are things that may be covered under them. Be concise and clear about your damage.
- Go online and complete a FEMA assistance application, there are a variety of Individual Assistance programs that could be available. (http://www.disasterassistance.gov/)
- Go online and investigate SC programs that might provide assistance for the State of SC (http://www.disasterassistance.gov/)
- Contact your local SBA representative and explore options with them as well.