What To Do When Returning Home After A Hurricane


In this aerial view, construction crews work around the clock to make temporary repairs to a bridge on the island of Matlacha on October 05, 2022 in Matlacha Florida. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis delivered remarks about the completion of the bridge to reconnect the island, and Pine Island as well, to the mainland during a press conference today. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

A week after southwestern Florida was pummeled by Hurricane Ian, the people who had decided to or had to be evacuated by authorities from numerous towns and cities are now coming back to face the conditions of their homes.

Physical damages, flooding and no electricity are just a few of the issues they will be dealing with in the upcoming weeks. AccuWeather has gathered information on what actions to take to navigate this situation.

Christina Barrett walks among the water-damaged furniture outside her home Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022, in North Port, Fla. Residents along Florida’s west coast are continuing to clean up after Hurricane Ian made landfall last week. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

As many start contacting their home insurance companies to report damages and get started on claims, they should be aware of the potential scams that are likely to arise during these peak call times. Both contractor and insurance scammers often take advantage of the high need for quick responses to put their strategies to use.

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“Always contact your insurance company before signing any contract forms,” Michal Brower, State Farm’s public affairs specialist, told AccuWeather.

Brower said the companies should be able to discuss the process and the different options for the homeowner to do research and make informed decisions.

Yet offers promoted by official government organizations can be trusted. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Headquarters activated the Blue Roof operation in Florida as a response to the impacts of Hurricane Ian in Lee and Charlotte counties, according to a tweet by FEMA on Tuesday.

Florida: @USACEHQ has activated Operation #BlueRoof in Lee and Charlotte County for people impacted by Hurricane #Ian. This service is free for homeowners. The sign up period is available until October 23rd. 

Apply at: or call 888-ROOF-BLU (888-766-3258)

— FEMA Region 4 (@femaregion4) October 4, 2022

Among the many concerns with flooding is the potential for mold. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns families to wait before re-entering their homes after a flood to ensure it doesn’t have any structural or electrical hazards. Then, removing the water and the water-damaged items are the most important steps to prevent mold damage.

However, if the home has not been able to dry out within 24 to 48 hours, the CDC website on mold cleanup says “you should assume you have mold growth.”

The real hazard with mold, beyond devastating damage to a home, is its health impact.

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“Exposure to mold can lead to asthma attacks, eye and skin irritation, and allergic reactions. It can lead to severe infections in people with weakened immune systems. Avoid contaminated buildings and contaminated water as much as you can,” according to the CDC.

Similar precautions to avoid the potentially contaminated waters should be taken when cleaning up debris outside of the home. The Florida Division of Emergency Management has tweeted reminders on safety tips for those who are still cleaning up the affected areas.

As you continue clean-up efforts from #HurricaneIan, here are some helpful tips to keep you safe during the process:

⚡️ Never touch a downed power-line
🏡 Keep generators at least 20 ft away from your home & on a flat, dry surface
🦺 Be sure to wear the appropriate safety gear

— FL Division of Emergency Management (@FLSERT) October 2, 2022

To combat the lack of electricity, people tend to rely on power generators, but generator safety shouldn’t be overlooked. After Hurricane Ian, there have already been several fatalities reported due to carbon monoxide poisoning in Lee County, Florida.

The National Weather Service reminded folks last week about generator safety tips, which is especially important in the aftermath of Ian as more than 400,000 still remain without power in Florida.

Generators can be a huge advantage after a hurricane makes landfall but could cause serious harm if used improperly due to potential risks for fire, electrocution and carbon monoxide poisoning, which is said to send more than 20,000 people to the emergency room every year, according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

🌀 #Ian Reminders:

🏡 NEVER use generators in your garage, basement, shed, or indoors. Use outside & away from windows, doors, vents, other openings.

🔌 Never plug a generator directly into a wall outlet.

⚠️ Safe Generator Tips from @RedCross:

— NWS Mobile (@NWSMobile) September 27, 2022

The NWS urged generator users to only use them outside, positioned away from windows, doors, vents and other openings, as well as to never plug a generator directly into a wall outlet. AccuWeather recommends keeping generators at least 30 feet away from homes and any openings, storing gasoline containers away from generators and from any other object that emits heat or flames. Yet not being able to smell exhaust fumes might not be enough to prevent exposure, according to The American Red Cross.

Be aware of carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms that could include dizziness, unconsciousness, nausea and vomiting. “If you start to feel sick, dizzy or weak while using a generator, get to fresh air RIGHT AWAY – DO NOT DELAY,” the Red Cross said. 

When electrical grids are down, service towers are likely to have been impacted as well. As repairs continue to restore cellular service, providers have recommended rebooting cell phones each morning, according to a tweet from the Florida Division of Emergency Management Monday. This is supposed to help the phones connect to the closest appropriate tower and improve communication for the affected families.


Produced in association with AccuWeather.

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