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Returning Home After the Harvey Leaves

Returning Home After the Harvey Leaves

The sun peeked out Wednesday afternoon for a few minutes over west Houston reminding everyone briefly that it still is there. This was followed by heavy rains stretching from Houston to almost New Orleans as Tropical Storm Harvey moved back onshore and headed in a northeasterly direction. The end of the rain may be in sight but it will take weeks or months before all the floodwaters in Houston and elsewhere recede and dry ground reappears. Homeowners whose homes have been flooded, will be anxious to review the damage as quickly as possible. Here are some guidelines from FEMA I believe is important to share. The floodwater in and around your home is likely polluted and may contain raw sewage, mold, oil, gasoline, and other pollutants. Wear rubber boots or waders when walking through the water to avoid exposure. Wear rubber boots, gloves, and goggles during cleanup of your home. Turn off electricity and gas to avoid risk of fire, shock, or electrocution. Have a licensed electrician check the house before turning power on. If you have flood insurance, photograph all damage before you demo anything to help with claim processing. Contact your insurance agent as soon as possible. I’ve had several discussions with flood victims, and here’s what I’ve recommended they do once the water has receded from their home. Remove all carpet and padding and throw them away due to the contaminants in the water. Clean all tile, vinyl, hardwoods, and laminate flooring with bleach water. Watch for cupping or warping on any natural wood flooring. If tiles “pop” or vinyl lifts you may have water underneath it which may require the floor covering be removed so the slab can be cleaned and dried. Sheetrock acts as a sponge and floodwater will “climb” up walls as it soaks into it. Find the dry area above the water line, about 2 to 6 inches above the waterline, and remove it. Dispose of it like the carpet and padding. Be careful removing sheetrock around wiring and plumbing in the walls. Remove all wet insulation from exterior walls. Like carpet, it will need to be replaced. Remove baseboards and wipe down with bleach water to clean them and allow them to dry for at least a week before attempting to reuse them. If they warp, replace them with new baseboards. Wipe down all cabinetry with bleach water to clean them. Before attempting to use any appliance (stove, refrigerator, dish washer, washer, dryer, etc.) have it checked by a licensed technician to see if it’s safe to operate. Don’t be in a hurry to hang new sheetrock. The studs need to be treated with bleach water...

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The Two Types of Insurance Claims from Hurricane Harvey

The Two Types of Insurance Claims from Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane, now Tropical Storm, Harvey isn’t done with Texas. It appears it will move away from Houston in the next few days but not before leaving Houston with up to another 18 inches of rain bringing the prospective total to about 50 inches. The winds whipped Corpus Christi, Rockport, and Port Aransas topping out somewhere between 130 and 140 miles per hour. Adding to the destruction was the storm surge which was 6 feet above normally dry ground in Port Lavaca for a whopping 7 hours. The damage from the storm isn’t over either, due to the flooding and ongoing rain in Houston. This will only worsen in the next few days or week as the Corps of Engineers releases water from the Addicks and Barker reservoirs. Several groups have published early damage estimates ranging from $30 to $100 billion to Texas coastal communities. These estimates include the economic impact from people not working to insurance claims, to damage not covered by insurance. The real numbers, however, won’t be known for several months. There are two types of insurance claims caused by Hurricane Harvey, hurricane or wind claims and flood claims. Let’s examine both in detail and what policies cover each type. Hurricane Claims: Hurricanes can cause three types of damage; wind, storm surge, and heavy rains. Home insurance, or separate wind insurance from the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA), provides coverage for damage resulting from hurricane force winds or tornadoes spawned by the hurricane. If your home or business suffered wind damage, file your claim with your insurance carrier or TWIA. Cover what you can with tarps to prevent further damage until repairs can be made. Keep copies of all receipts as damage prevention measures are covered by most carriers. Flood Claims: Storm surge and flooding due to rising water is not covered by home or renter’s insurance policy. Only flood insurance covers damage to your home and/or contents from storm surge or rising floodwaters. Hurricane Harvey reminds us why having flood insurance is so important, even in non-mandatory flood zones. Most people who suffer flood damage don’t have flood insurance. If you have water in your home and have flood insurance, please initiate a flood claim, even if you can’t get to your home. There is some good news for people without flood insurance. They may qualify for Federal Disaster Assistance. President Trump has agreed to Governor Abbott’s request for many south Texas counties to be officially named as natural disaster areas. This begins the process for Federal Disaster Relief to be made available to victims of the storm. The next step is for Congress to provide an amount of funds which...

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