Returning to Your Home After Hurricane Sandy

The following includes information regarding damage control immediately following Hurricane Sandy. Erik Braunitzer is a writer for Douglas Elliman, brokers for NYC, Long Island and Hamptons Real Estate.

New York, NY – November 6, 2012 – (RealEstateRama) — Hurricane Sandy resulted in many residents of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut being evacuated from their homes during the worst parts of the storm. These residents, especially those who reside in coastal areas, are now returning to homes filled with sand, water, and debris. Many others opted to ride out the storm at home and have exhausted emergency supplies, and are only now able to assess the extent of the damages to their property. Taking a calm and measured approach towards evaluating your losses will ensure that insurance claims are processed quickly and that your family can move on and rebuild as soon as possible.

When returning home, keep in mind that your neighborhood may have downed power lines or fallen trees that block roadways or create hazards. National Guard or police will not let you into a neighborhood if it is not safe, and if you are advised not to enter your neighborhood, don’t! Many areas are being blocked off until the gas lines can be disconnected, to prevent the dangerous gas explosions that have occurred in several New Jersey townships.

Once you arrive at your home, check for structural damages, including damage to your roof. Make a list of any damage that you see and take pictures. The strong winds of the storm may have removed shingles or blown tree branches or other debris onto it. Check the house for broken windows. When you enter your home, check for flood damage. Do not neglect the basement or cellar, where there may be more water accumulation. Water damage can weaken a home structurally by warping wooden beams, it can also act as a breeding ground for mold and bacteria that you can breathe in and become ill. If there is serious damage, contact your insurance agent immediately.

Those who were not evacuated for the storm may have already used up a significant portion of their emergency provisions, and will need to restock for the future. It would be wise to create an emergency preparedness kit, and to buy another two week supply of batteries, water, and some non-perishable foods to store away for the next storm. You may also want to store some cash in an envelope in case you need to evacuate in a future storm, and ATMs may not work due to a power outage. Make an evacuation plan with a meeting place that you have discussed with your family ahead of time, so that you don’t get separated in the chaos.

Another way to be prepared is to take an inventory of your household items, including all of your electronics, which you would like to be covered by your homeowners or renters insurance policy. You can do this by taking photographs of each item, writing down their model numbers and serial numbers, and storing the document in a sealed, waterproof bag well above the floor, like on a closet shelf, with an additional copy in a fire safe or a safety deposit box.

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Erik Braunitzer is a writer for Douglas Elliman, brokers for NYC, Long Island and Hamptons Real Estate.

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