Step Two

Assess the Damage

  • Make sure it is safe to go back to your home. Stay tuned to your local radio or TV stations or check your newspaper to find out when you can go back to your home and survey the damage.
  • Before going in, check your home to see if the building is safe and structurally sound. Proceed carefully. For filing your insurance claims, take photographs or make a videotape of the damage to the building and its contents before you begin cleanup.
  • Walk around the outside of your home and check for loose power lines and gas leaks. Check for broken or leaking water pipes. Check the foundation for cracks and other damage. If you see obvious damage, contact your community's building inspector or a contractor to check the house.
  • Call your insurance agent. Homeowners insurance usually covers losses caused by wind, storms, or broken water pipes, but not surface flooding. Flood insurance covers most losses caused by surface floodwater.
  • Even if you have insurance, you may be eligible for additional help to cover unmet needs. If the president has declared your community a disaster area, contact the Federal Emergency Management Agency toll-free at 800-462-9029 to register for assistance. The TTY number for the speech or hearing impaired is 800-462-7585. You may be eligible for assistance even if your home is covered by insurance.

Plan Your Recovery

  • Check with your mortgage holder.
  • Decide if you need any financial assistance.
  • Decide what you can and can't do in terms of home repair.
  • Make sure it is safe to work in your home.
  • Use your credit cards carefully.

Keep receipts of all expenses related to the disaster and your recovery. You may be able to get reimbursement from your insurance coverage and other assistance.

Next Step to Recovery

Step Three: Give Your House Some First Aid