Who To Expect After a Flood

After a flood disaster such as a hurricane, expect multiple visitors who will want to either assist you with aid or offer their services. It’s common for multiple visitors to perform damage assessments on your home. No matter who may be knocking, always ask for identification and the purpose of the visit. Never give out personal information such as your Social Security or bank account number, and never sign a power of an attorney especially to a contractor or public adjuster. Government officials will never ask for money and you should never pay for their service, nor should you be so quick to sign any contracts with contractors who may pressure you into doing so.  Here’s some of the people you may expect to contact you after a major loss.

FEMA Inspector: If you apply for federal disaster assistance, a FEMA inspector may call and visit to assess your property damage. They will have a FEMA ID badge.

SBA Loss Verifier: If you apply for a Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster loan, an SBA loss verifier may call to discuss your property damage or schedule a visit. They will have an SBA ID badge.

Local or Government Building Inspectors:  Officials inspect damaged buildings to determine if they can be occupied. If they have damage, officials (state/county/local) may visit to gather damage data in the weeks and months after an event to inspect and collect information. They should have an ID badge from their agency.

Local Flood Plain Managers: If you live in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), a local floodplain manager may call or visit to determine if a structure is “substantially damaged” and to explain how to comply with current floodplain regulations. They should have their agency’s ID badge.

Flood Insurance Adjuster: If you have filed an NFIP policy claim, you will receive a call and a visit from a flood insurance adjuster. They will collect information, take photos, and help fill out claims paperwork. They will have a Flood Adjuster Certification Card and picture ID.

Your Homeowners Insurance Adjuster: If you file a claim with your homeowners insurance, a homeowners insurance adjuster will call and visit to assess non-flood damage. They should have a state-issued agency license or ID.  It is also possible to see your Auto Policy Adjuster if you sustained damage to your vehicle.

Lawyers: Various lawyers or their representatives may offer to help you file claims for insurance, grants, and loans. Their services may be free, low-cost, or cost a significant sum—up to 30% of your insurance claim. Be cautious, and be sure to check their credentials and ask about fees.

Public Adjusters: Third-party certified public adjusters may offer help to inspect damaged homes and help you file claims for insurance, grants, and loans, but be cautious. There is usually a fee of 10% to 30% of your total settlement. Be sure to ask for credentials. One organization, the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters, certifies members who must agree to a Code of Ethics and other requirements.  Some trusted adjusters can actually help you get what you’re supposed to get from the insurance company while expediting your claim.

Contractors: Be cautious if a contractor or other repair professional approaches you directly and unsolicited. Ask for IDs, licenses, proof of insurance, and references. Do not pay for all repairs up front, though legitimate contractors may request a percentage of their fees to begin work. Obtain a contract with both labor and cost estimates.  If your claim has been approved, a mitigation contractor shouldn’t be paid anything upfront whatsoever.

Non-Profit Organizations: A group of highly-competent organizations with service-oriented missions and ministries that leverage skilled and passionate volunteers. They can be connected to the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (National VOAD) forum by government partners and should be easily identifiable with signage.

Scammers: No fees should be charged for the inspections performed by government or NFIP representatives. Social Security and bank account numbers are never required by inspectors or adjusters. Always safeguard your personal information, and when in doubt, don’t give out information.

You may also receive visitors such as HOA representatives, Condo Association Members and Engineers, who will do damage assessments and also insure structures are safe from further damage.

Power Outage Tips

Whether or not you know it’s coming, a power outage can be a major disturbance. It never hurts to be prepared and to know what to do once the lights go out.

Before

  • Power outages can happen at any time and are unavoidable, but the costs associated with them can be lessened by installing a home backup generator at a home or business.
  • Have a place in your home where flashlights, a battery-powered radio, and extra batteries can be easily found.
  • If you know the outage is coming, set aside extra water and buy or make extra ice. You can use the ice to keep perishable items cool.
  • Make sure the battery in your smoke detector is fresh. Test the smoke detector on a monthly basis to make sure it’s working.
  • Keep an appliance thermometer in the freezer. If the freezer is 40 degrees Fahrenheit or colder when the power returns, all the food is safe.

During

  • If possible, use flashlights instead of candles for emergency lighting. Candles used in unfamiliar settings can be dangerous fire hazards.
  • Turn off or disconnect any appliances, equipment, or electronics that were on when the power went out. When power comes back on, it may come back with momentary “surges” or “spikes” that can damage equipment such as computers and motors in appliances like the air conditioner, refrigerator, washer, or furnace.
  • Leave one light on so you know when the power returns.
  • Avoid opening the refrigerator and freezer. This will help keep your food as fresh as possible. Be sure to check food for signs of spoilage.
  • Use generators safely. If you have a portable generator, only run it outdoors with adequate ventilation. Never use a generator indoors or in attached garages. The exhaust fumes contain carbon monoxide, which can be deadly if inhaled.
  • Listen to the radio for updates.

Supporting Those in Need

Hurricane Harvey, the first major hurricane to make landfall in the United States in more than a decade, made landfall on the Texas coast late Friday as a Category 4 storm, destroying homes, overturning vehicles and sinking boats, severing power lines, and forcing tens of thousands of residents to flee, while leaving ten dead. As Harvey, now downgraded to a tropical storm, lingers over Texas, record amounts of rain are predicted, which could spawn even more destruction in the form of catastrophic flooding.

There are many in need of help, and here’s how you can show your support.  Go to the Red Cross website, or click the link below and donate whatever you can.  Even a couple of dollars will help those in need, and give the Red Cross the funds needed to provide support to those who lost everything.

Red Cross Link

Tropical Storm Hermine

Hermine’s remnant low is also expected to hover off the Northeast seaboard this holiday weekend. New tropical storm warnings were issued along the Southeast coast early Thursday from Florida’s First Coast to a swath of coastal South Carolina, including Jacksonville Beach, St. Simons Island, Hilton Head Island and Charleston. This means tropical storm-force winds (39 mph or higher) are expected within 36 hours. Tropical storm watches were also issued north of that to include Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Wrightsville Beach and Surf City, North Carolina. Hurricane warnings continue for a swath of north Florida, extending inland to include the city of Tallahassee. This means hurricane-force winds (at least 74 mph) are expected for a period of time in the warned area.

Before the Storm

  • Be ready to put your plan and preparation into action.
  • Pay attention to local weather reports on radio, television, or the internet.
  • Have house boarded up, or have storm shutters in place.
  • Have plenty of food and water.
  • Make sure all your tools, supplies, and first aid kit available for use.
  • Have a secure room available.

During the Storm

  • Stay in Secure Room.
  • Stay away from windows.
  • Do not use the phone, or candles.
  • Monitor Weather and Civil Service Bulletins on either regular or NOAA radio.
  • Have supplies on hand.
  • Remain indoors when the eye moves over your area because the storm will resume shortly.

MoldSolutions24-7.com

How To Help Louisiana Flood Victims

After historic floods ravaged parts of southern Louisiana over the weekend and left thousands evacuated, waters are beginning to recede and cleanup efforts are underway. Many organizations are lending a helping hand with food, supplies and cleanup efforts. There are many ways you can support victims as they pick up the pieces and begin again.

Here are a few organizations that need your help as residents recover from what the American Red Cross calls the worst disaster since Hurricane Sandy.

American Red Cross

The Louisiana branch of the American Red Cross is providing meals and dozens of shelters for residents needing a safe place to sleep. A detailed listing of the organization’s efforts, facilities and needs can be found here and you can contribute financially by either visiting here or by texting the word LAFLOODS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Salvation Army

The Salvation Army is working from its Baton Rouge facility to help those evacuated during the flood. The organization has sent extra personnel to the area to provide mobile feeding units, hygiene kits and to help in cleanup efforts. You can volunteer or donate money to the Salvation Army’s Gulf Coast fund.

The United Way

Donations for flood relief can be made through the United Way of Southeast Louisiana website. They are also seeking volunteers.

Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans & Acadiana

This organization is seeking financial support as they distribute thousands of pounds of food, water and supplies to flood victims.

Convoy of Hope

This faith-based, nonprofit organization is providing food, water, equipment and relief supplies to southern Louisiana. You can donate here and specify that you would like your donation to go to the Louisiana August 2016 flood relief efforts.

Operation Blessing International

Operation Blessing International is another faith-based, nonprofit that has already deployed volunteers to help in cleanup efforts and reconstruction. For more on their relief efforts in Louisiana, you can find information here. If you’re interested in volunteering, email volunteer@OB.org and to offer financial support, you can donate here.

LSU Fund

Louisiana State University’s Zeta Phi Beta sorority has a GoFundMe site, which is aiming to raise $10,000 and disburse it to students impacted by the flooding.

Save the Children

This organization that serves children and their families around the world is providing support to help with emergency assistance in flooding areas. To support their efforts, you can donate to the Gulf Coast Floods Children’s Relief Fund.

Animal Shelters

There are several animal shelters in the area that are seeking donations, volunteers and foster parents for hundreds of rescued pets, including Companion Animal Alliance, as well as a GoFundMe site for Denham Springs Animal Shelter.

Drop Off Items

If you live in the area, there are a number of places where you can drop off items like diapers, pillows, bedding, toiletries, clothing, car seats, mattresses, food, gift cards, stuffed animals, pet food and water bottles. See a full list of locations accepting donations here.

MoldSolutions24-7.com

Flooded Day Care

With the recent storms, many homes and businesses have endured severe water damage.  Here’s a set of photos showing a local business which was unfortunate and had several inches of water damaging not only the carpeting and drywall, but a lot of contents.  The pictures show the wet rugs and walls, the moisture meter indicating the high levels of moisture, (since the some of the photos don’t display the water damage because the carpeting is dark), and the remediation and structural drying.DSCN1565 DSCN1566 DSCN1571 DSCN1638 DSCN1639