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How To Cope After A Natural Disaster


“I feel overwhelmed.”

You may be feeling overwhelmed by recent storm events. It helps to know that you are not alone.

Over half Champion Energy’s customers and most of our employees live in counties impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Even if you weren’t directly impacted by the storm, living through a major crisis or even watching it on television, produces many different types of feelings.

You may feel anxiety, depression, confusion and tension. You may find it hard to function, or have trouble making decisions. You may want to talk to somebody to decide “where do I start?”

The United Way of Houston has created an excellent guide, “After the Storm.”  Download a copy and share it with friends and family.  While developed for the Houston area, it also includes checklists as a starting place.

https://www.unitedwayhouston.org/assets/uploads/documents/news-publications/Greater-Houston-after-the-storm-2017.pdf

Wherever you are in Texas, you can dial 211 and reach the United Way Helpline.  This line an answered 24/7 and an agent can direct you to local resources.

(Remember, in the case of an emergency, always dial 911)

Repairing a Storm Damaged Home

When you are planning a renovation, time is on your side. You can carefully select and vet contractors.  When a natural disaster occurs, immediate repairs are sometimes unavoidable.  Stress from the storm may make it difficult for you to make decisions clearly. Six months from now, you don’t want to be thinking “Why, oh why did I hire that guy?”

  • File a damage report with FEMA- FEMA Assistance
  • Contact your homeowners insurance or renters insurance company to check on your coverage.

NOTE:  If you rent your home, your rights are protected, and your landlord is required to make repairs in a timely manner.  Visit Texas Attorney General Office – Tenant Rights for more information.

  • Assess the damage; document everything with pictures.
  • Flood waters may have included sewage or chemicals.  It’s important to remove wet items from the home to avoid mold and respiratory issues. If you are able, remove damaged sheetrock from your walls and remove carpeting.
  • Select a Contractor:
    • Select contractors that are licensed, insured and reputable. Many times after a disaster, contractors will travel from other states to work on homes. Make sure you know who you are dealing with by contacting their licensing agency to confirm they are legitimate.
    • Ask for insurance information. Certificates of Insurance for General Liability and Workers Compensation should be issued, upon your request, to ensure your home and family are protected from liability.
    • Do not provide payment to a contractor or service provider without a written, detailed proposal for the services they will be providing, including materials, a timeline for completing the repairs, and a payment schedule.

TIP! Rather than paying your contractor for the materials, make payment directly to the retail or wholesale outlet they use, over the phone or in person.  This will give you more security of your funds, and give you additional time to pay if cash is tight.

 

Source: http://texashomeandgarden.com/idea-center/remodeling/homeowners-beware-natural-disaster/

Recovering From a Flood – Electrical Safety

You know that electricity and water don’t mix. But what do you do when your home is flooded? Here are some tips compiled from Popular Mechanics and Centerpoint Energy.

Avoid Electrical Hazards from Flooding

From Centerpoint Energy

  • When possible, we recommend that you contact a licensed electrician to advise and assist during flood conditions in turning power off at the breaker box and back on. If it appears that water will get as high as the outlets in your house, we recommend that you cut off power at the breaker box only if you are able to do so safely and without standing in water.
  • With the circuit breaker off and all appliances disconnected, plug in one floor lamp. Then, reset the breaker and check other plugs one at a time. If the breaker trips when you reset it, you should call an electrician.
  • If electrical appliances – including your air conditioning system – were submerged in water, allow them to dry for at least one week. Also, have a qualified repair person inspect before turning them on.

Homes Electrical System Grounding and Home Appliances

From Popular Mechanics

There are two aspects to every home’s electrical system: the parts designed to carry electrical current during normal operation, and the parts designed to carry current safely to ground should something go wrong.

The latter is known as the home’s grounding and bonding system and it can be severely damaged by floodwaters. Only a licensed electrician is equipped and trained to evaluate the damage. All metal components of a homes’ electrical system should be evaluated by a licensed electrician after flooding, and replaced if necessary.  For example, metal electrical boxes that have been submerged may rust, and the rust on the box prevents an adequate connection to the home’s grounding system.

Once you begin recovery efforts, keep in mind that all flooded electrical equipment may be ruined.  Make sure you have an electrician review the following:

  • Plastic-sheathed building wire (often referred to by the trade name Romex)
  • Armored cable (often referred to by the trade name BX)
  • Circuit panels and circuit breakers
  • Fuse boxes and fuses
  • Sub panels
  • Switched disconnect boxes
  • Switches
  • Outlet receptacles
  • Motors
  • Circuit boards
  • Non-submersible pumps
  • Blowers and fans
  • Lights
  • Heaters
  • Air conditioners
  • Furnaces

A licensed air conditioning or a heating/cooling contractor can advise you whether your heating or cooling equipment can be salvaged. It depends upon the type of equipment, the depth of the floodwaters, and the duration of submersion. Many people try to salvage appliances such as dehumidifiers, refrigerators, and freezers that have been in flooded basements. Some do go on to live a post-flood life, but it’s risky: They can be extremely dangerous to operate after they’ve been flooded.

Source:  http://www.centerpointenergy.com/en-us/Safety/Pages/flood-safety-tips.aspx?sa=ho&au=res

Source:  http://www.popularmechanics.com/adventure/outdoors/tips/a8231/4-rules-for-electrical-safety-after-a-flood-14261065/