Restoring Your Home after a Storm

Photo: Todd Ehlers/flickrAnyone whose home has ever been hit by a ferocious rain shower, hail storm, or snow fall, or felt the impact of a hurricane, knows the havoc these forces of nature can wreak. In the midst of a bout of fierce weather, the focus is on human survival, but after the storm has passed, it’s time to restore and repair your property. One of the most devastating effects of a storm is the damage that water is capable of doing to a house. And that damage is more than “skin deep”; both the safety and structure of the building are often compromised.

Safety First

Water damage can destroy the structural integrity of your home. Although to an untrained observer, the walls and roof might appear to be intact, they could well be weakened and at risk of eventual collapse. Your electrical system is another potential hazard if it has been affected by water, particularly corrosive salt water. What’s more, the flood water itself can be a source of danger; it may contain contaminants which can cause infectious diseases. Protect yourself and your family by following sensible precautions. Do not drink the contaminated water or eat any food that has been exposed to it. Avoid physical contact with flood water, especially if you have an open wound or have the slightest suspicion that the water may be electrically charged.

Assessing the Damage

A professional remodeling contractor who specializes in restoring storm damage has the knowledge to assess the hazards and extent of the destruction. He will be able to help you file a claim for compensation with your insurance provider. (NOTE: Storm restoration is not covered by homebuilder’s insurance, but rather by your homeowner’s policy. Special flood insurance, mandatory if you own a residence in a high-risk area, is necessary to make a claim for flood damage to your house and its contents.) Federal disaster assistance may be another option for financial aid in the home restoration process – however, bear in mind that this assistance tends to come in the form of an interest-bearing loan. The National Flood Insurance Program estimates the average cost of flood restoration in the tens of thousands of dollars; if you have purchased flood insurance at least 30 days prior to the water damage, it should cover this amount minus the policy’s deductible.

What Will Need to Be Restored

Everything in your home from the ground up may have to be restored. According to the NFIP, the most commonly needed post-flood remodels include repair or replacement of water-damaged flooring; kitchen and bathroom cabinets; wall insulation, drywall, or paneling; wall finishes; doors, windows, and baseboards; and electrical and plumbing systems. Add to this the task of removing damaged and dangerous materials, as well as the extensive cleaning which is likely to be necessary to make your home safe and disease-free. As a rule, the sooner you get started with water restoration, the better. Untreated water damage will not go away on its own, but instead will tend to get worse, further weakening the property and providing the perfect breeding ground for mold, mildew, and bacteria --- definitely not substances that you want in your home.

Laura Firszt writes for


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