Houston. Oh, how I love Houston! It’s my hometown, I’ve spent all but one year of my life (freshman year of college) here. It’s all that I know and I know so many Houstonians can relate. When I tell you I am hurting right now seeing my city underwater, seeing old classmates flooded, and most importantly my aunt has been flooded out 3 times now. She is safe and staying with us! She packed up a few bags, stacked all of her possessions on table tops, counters, and furniture thinking that would protect most of her belongings. Well, thanks to the Addicks Reservoir releasing pressure, her house now has approximately 6 to 8 feet of water. Everything is destroyed! Thousands upon thousands of Houston residents can relate to this. Let’s not forget about residents in surrounding areas like Dickinson and surrounding areas.
BUT, let me tell you about Texans. We DO NOT give up, we persevere through it all, we will rebuild, and we will be stronger than ever! If you are a flood SURVIVOR (not victim because you are resilient and empowered) I want to give you a few tips on what to do after Hurricane Harvey flood. Some of you may know that my dad and I are real estate investors. We want to do our part and help as many families that have been affected by this disaster as possible. My aunt, Sheila Hollie, wants to help you all as well since she’s been through the rebuilding process a few times! She has agreed to do an interview that I will upload to YouTube, so be sure to follow me on social media so I can let you know when it publishes.
Tips for What to Do After Hurricane Harvey Flood
- The first thing you need to do if you have flood insurance is to file your claim. You will want to get this done ASAP because there are thousands of other families that need to file their claims as well. The faster you begin the process the faster you can receive your funds.
- You also need to contact your homeowner insurance and mortgage companies.
- Contact your car insurance company and file a claim.
- You also need to be sure to ask your mortgage company, car loan company, student loan & credit card companies for a 3 month reprieve from payments. You can also try requesting this from your light company, phone company, and cable company. There shouldn’t be any late fees incurred.
- Don’t forget to visit the Red Cross.
- Also, to protect your identity, contact the three credit bureaus and FTC to have fraud alerts placed on your accounts just in case someone wants to steal your identity during this tragedy.
- If you can safely turn off your breaker box PLEASE do so! You don’t want to run the risk of being electrocuted.
- Please know that all of your repair costs may not be covered with the payouts from your flood and homeowner coverage along with the FEMA payout.
- TAKE PLENTY OF PICTURES AND VIDEO! The pictures will help your insurance adjuster determine the amount of damage…this will help you receive maximum payout. Take the pictures and video BEFORE you clean out the damage! Make sure you get pictures of where the water level is at on the wall. It’s extremely important for the insurance adjuster.
- When you are getting rid of items like your clothes, computers, electronics, etc. take pictures of EACH item AND document each item on paper or in an Excel document. Write down the name of the item, brand if you can, and estimate the price you paid for the item. You’ll need to submit this list to your insurance adjuster when they are trying to determine the amount to give you for the contents of your home.
- But before you start taking pictures of your possessions, as you get rid of them you will need to get rid of your carpet, strip your wood floors if you can, and cut your drywall out. Keep 1 square foot of carpet and padding to show the insurance adjuster what you had in your house. If the water line is below 4 feet, then cut the drywall at 4 feet. If the water line is above 4 feet, then cut the drywall at 8 feet. Use a razor blade to remove the drywall, don’t use a sledge hammer!
- PLEASE USE GLOVES AND MASKS WHEN REMOVING MATERIALS AND POSSESSIONS FROM YOUR HOME! You do not want to breathe in all of the chemicals and fumes that the materials will emit.
- Use a diluted bleach solution to spray on nonporous surfaces to kill mold. Use 1 cup of bleach to 1 gallon of water. For wood, you will need to use Mold Control to kill the mold spores inside the wood. Otherwise, the mold will grow back.
- Use Wet Vac to remove as much water as possible. Turn on the A/C & ceiling fans and open windows to dry the house out. If you can, rent industrial fans from Home Depot or Lowe’s to dry out the house.
- All of your appliances will have to be replaced. Get rid of them.
- Let the house dry out for 1-2 weeks before rebuilding it.
- When it comes time to pick a contractor, please take your time and research. Go ahead and get a few bids. Make sure the contractor is bonded and insured. Ask to see pictures of past work, if you can, ask to speak to their last 3 clients.
- Do NOT sign a contract until you are sure you want to work with them and have verified their credentials.
- Do NOT pay them upfront. I don’t care what the contractor says. Pay them on a draw schedule, in other words pay them progress payments as work is completed. Go with them to buy the materials. Once you have physically seen some completed work pay them, so you can do this weekly until the work is complete.
- If you can, it is best to get contractors that have a specialty to do your work. General contractors are nice, but they do not usually do everything well. Sad truth.
- Rebuilding will not be a quick process, expect it to take 3-4 months to be finished. It will take longer than that in some areas because water is expected to remain in some homes for up to 2 months.
- Keep all of your receipts and invoices during this time because you will have to submit them to the insurance company.
- You will need to get your contractor to sign a release of lien so that you can send it to your insurance company and to the bank.
- If you are a renter without flood insurance you can still reach out to FEMA for assistance. As stated on their website: “FEMA also helps eligible renters with uninsured or underinsured expenses such as:
- Disaster-related medical and dental expenses
- Disaster-related funeral and burial expenses
- Replacement or repair of necessary personal property lost or damaged in the disaster, household items such as room furnishings or appliances, and tools and equipment required by the self-employed for their jobs
- Primary vehicles and approved second vehicles damaged by the disaster
- Additionally, renters may borrow up to $40,000 from the U.S. Small Business Administration to repair or replace personal property.” (FEMA)
I hope this enough information to help you know what to do after Hurricane Harvey flood. If you have any questions or concerns I will be happy to help you. You can email me at Brittany@lilsweetspiceadvice.com. You can also call and get in contact with my father or me at 713-636-5113.
If you would like to know how you can help please check out my blogger friend, Black Girls Who Brunch’s page, because she has SO many resources to help Houstonians out.
Please keep Houston and Southeastern Texas in your thoughts and prayers. We appreciate all of the love and support!