For communities in Hurricane Florence’s path: Tips to share with your citizens
IBTS’s natural disaster experts have developed the following list of important recommendations for citizens in areas affected by natural disasters. Local government officials in communities that expect to be hit by Hurricane Florence can distribute these as part of their disaster communications efforts to help their citizens during and immediately following the storm.
PROTECT YOUR HOME AND YOUR BELONGINGS
Protect your home and belongings to the greatest extent possible. Board up your windows and push your furniture into the middle of your home. If you have the option, take your valuables with you, but remember that your life is more important than material possessions. Put every lock on your exterior doors to reduce interior damage and prevent looting after the disaster.
Non-evacuated citizens: be prepared to shelter in place. Have enough supplies to accommodate you and your family for at least 72 hours. This includes items like batteries, generators, flash lights, water, non-perishable food, and a Red Cross kit. Store important documents related to your home and homeowner’s insurance policies, as well as any wills and life insurance policies, in a safe, waterproof location.
Evacuating citizens: bring all important documentation related to your home and homeowner’s insurance policies with you. You will need to report damages as soon as possible, so it’s important to keep this information with you. It’s also a good idea to have your life insurance policy and will on hand.
Save your insurance agent’s contact information in your cell phone and keep a hard copy. You’ll need to contact your homeowner’s insurance agent as soon as possible to report damages after the disaster. See this list of mobile apps to find more ways to use your mobile phone to stay safe and updated during the disaster and the days following.
Unless it’s an emergency, call the contact number provided by your local government, not 911. Your locality will likely have a call center to field questions and report damage. Call this number to avoid overwhelming your local police and fire, who will need to respond to emergencies. Be sure to regularly check other communications from your local government, such as social media accounts, local news media and your government’s website.
AFTER THE DISASTER
Plan to stay away from your home for 3-5 days. Do not enter your home until local officials say it is safe to do so. After a flood, unknown airborne parasites and bacteria inside your home may put your health at risk.
Follow all directions from your local officials. Officials will provide instructions throughout the recovery process and have your safety and interests as their top priority. Not following directions can put yourself and others in danger.
Check in on your neighbors, especially elderly and those with children. Everyone will be affected by the disaster, and recovering from it is a communal effort. If you are able, make sure your neighbors are safe, and see how you can provide assistance. If you need help, ask for it.
Take pictures and document all damages and repairs made to your home. FEMA may provide assistance to your community, but requires detailed documentation of all damages and repair expenditures. Before you begin removing debris or making any repairs to your home, photograph any and all damages and losses – nothing is too small. If you begin making repairs to your home, save receipts for all purchases to maximize the reimbursement you may be eligible to receive from your homeowner’s and flood insurance, and from FEMA.
Attend all public meetings related to FEMA assistance and the recovery process. If you can’t attend, send someone who you know well and who can relay information back to you. If you anticipate a physical or language barrier, ask your local leaders for special accommodations.