Hurricane Irma hit the entire state of Florida; it was a massive storm impacting from the Florida Keys to Jacksonville. High winds, downed powerlines, destroyed homes and flooding has left the sunshine state reeling this week, but Floridians are hurricane survivors and know how to clean up and carry on!
Power is Key after the Hurricane
First we are all going to need to get power back on so water, internet and air conditioning are up and running and we can rejoin the post-hurricane modern world again. FPL is working around the clock; in fact our power came back on well after 9pm the other night thanks to a single crew at the entrance to our neighborhood working in the dark as lightening flashed in the distance. We are very thankful for that brave lineman doing everything he could to help us. To learn more on the FPL power outages take a look at the interactive map or download their app. https://www.fplmaps.com/
It’s a Big Mess
Hurricane clean-up can be dangerous, please be safe out there people! Taking down shutters, using a home generator or chain saw can lead to injuries. A few quick tips:
- Never run a generator in an enclosed space
- Use proper precautions when operating power tools and heavy equipment
- Working in the dark is dangerous if you don’t have lighting leave it until morning
- Don’t approach down power lines
Clean up isn’t just outside your fridge and freezer are also going to need to be dealt with if you lost power for any amount of time. If you are not sure toss it! Getting sick from eating $5 worth of contaminated lunch meat is a bad idea. If it wasn’t on ice it goes in the trash.
- Do not eat any food that may have come into contact with flood water.
- If your freezer thermometer reads 40°F or below, the food is safe and may be refrozen. If you don’t have a thermometer, check each package of food to determine its safety. You can’t use the smell test. If the food has ice crystals or is 40°F or below, it is safe to refreeze or cook.
- Discard any refrigerated food (such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs or leftovers) that has been above 40°F for two hours or more.
- If you evacuated and your home lost power for more than 4 hours it’s a good idea to throw out everything in the fridge when you get home. The frozen items should be ok if the power was out for less than 12 hours, otherwise the frozen items should go too even if they re-froze.
We all could use a little Hurricane help
Those of us with major hurricane damage to homes or business in some counties (including Martin and Palm Beach) may be eligible for Individual Assistance Program from FEMA. The grants can help with temporary housing, home repairs, and other serious disaster-related needs, such as medical and dental expenses or funeral and burial costs.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) can also help business affected by the storm with long-term, low-interest disaster loans if the losses are not covered by insurance or another agency.
Your first call should be to your own insurance company, then to FEMA (especially if you have flood insurance). When you make contact you will need all the details you have about the insured property from basics like address to policy numbers, if you can find them.
Online: Go to DisasterAssistance.gov and fill out the online questionnaire.
By phone: Call 1-800-621-3362 between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m.
Remember if you are dealing with FEMA or a private insurance company you are going to need to document everything, take cell phone photos and videos of all hurricane damage. Save all receipts for all your expenses from hotel stays to repairs made to your home. And don’t forget the before and after pictures for the insurance adjustors. There are so many claims being submitted this is going to take time; be patient the insurance inspectors are going to be overworked, the process is going to be slow. If you can’t wait for insurance money call banks and credit cards that you are already a customer with, they may be willing to extend due dates on bills or increase your credit limits.
For those with extensive roof damage from Irma FEMA will help primary homeowners in Charlotte, Collier, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Pinellas, and Sarasota counties to get free a blue tarp. The tarp is affixed to damaged rooves awaiting repair visit this website to get program details: www.saj.usace.army.mil/BlueRoof at 1-888-ROOF-BLU.
Make a Difference
If you are one of the lucky ones and Hurricane Irma was something between a reason for a hurricane party and a few days of inconvenience without power then you should celebrate your good fortune. Invest in your future good karma and take the time to help a neighbor that isn’t as lucky or dig into your pocket and donate! Here are a few resources to help you get started, or just reach out on social media and offer what you have to give.
Volunteer to help those effected https://www.unitedwaypbc.org/irma-volunteer-form
Donate to help rebuild https://www.habitat.org/impact/our-work/disaster-response/hurricanes/2017