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Hurricane season can bring about a lot of stress and worry, and there are many things to keep in mind even when you're in the heat of the moment. Find out how you can ensure you're ready at all times.
Before a Storm
You need to prepare ahead of time to ensure you, your family, and your belongings are safe. Months, weeks, and even hours before a storm hits, you should take necessary steps to keep everyone and everything as safe as possible, as it will make the recovery process much easier.
During a Storm
It'll be important to pay attention to alerts and warnings and know evacuation routes to follow. If you haven't already, you should sign up for local alerts such as CodeRED, which will notify you regarding critical community alerts including evacuation and boil water notices, and missing child reports.
After a Storm
The recovery process after a storm may be stressful, overwhelming, and incredibly difficult. Which is why it will be crucial to remember the tips below so that you know what to do when it's time to recover after a storm.
- Clean up safely. You should take steps to protect yourself and your loved ones during the cleanup process. Be sure to use the right safety gear including hard hats, goggles, masks, heavy work gloves, waterproof boots and earplugs. Throw out toys like stuffed animals and baby toys, which you may be unable to kill germs off of. For more information and tips for returning home, checking your home's safety, and cleaning up damage, head to the Reliant Storm Center.
- Be aware of mold or mold buildup. Clean up and dry your home quickly after the storm ends, and within 24 to 48 hours if possible. Use a mix of bleach and water to clean up mold, and be sure to keep the windows and doors open to air out your house. Protect yourself by using respirators, long sleeves and pants, protective gloves, and goggles.
- Photograph or record damage. To ensure you can receive compensation for your losses, document everything before you begin to move items. Maintain as many records of evidence as possible so you can show them to your contractor or insurance company. You can contact the Texas Department of Insurance for help finding your insurance company's phone number and assistance with your claims.
- Apply for disaster assistance. Even if you have insurance you can apply for FEMA. They may be able to help you find a place to evacuate if your home is flooded, receive nutrition assistance benefits, and find temporary unemployment assistance. The Reliant Storm Center also has more information on what to expect after you apply for FEMA aid.
- Take care of your emotional health. This may be a very stressful time and you will likely feel anxiety, grief or worry during and after a disaster. Take care of your body by eating well-balanced meals and getting plenty of sleep. If you are struggling to afford food, the Rio Grande Food Bank can provide you with nutritious food and is open Monday through Friday 8am to 5pm.
- Eat safe food and drink safe water only. You must take steps to prevent illness from unsafe food and water. If food may have come in contact with flood or stormwater, throw it away. Any water that may have been contaminated should not be used to wash dishes, brush your teeth, wash and prepare food, make ice or make baby formula.
- Know how to handle a power outage. Your first instinct may be to contact your electricity provider, but a different company maintains the poles and wires that deliver power to your home. If you're in Rio Grande Valley, AEP services your power and you should always notify them during an outage so they can help resolve the issue. They can be reached at 1-877-373-4858 or you can visit their website here. In the event of an extended outage, you can contact Reliant customer service who will eagerly answer your questions 24/7 and may be able to assist you with your account.
Concerned about your electricity bill? Life after a hurricane can be physically, emotionally, and mentally draining. If you're having difficulty paying your Reliant bill after a disaster, call 1-866-RELIANT to discuss payment arrangements or to find a CARE agency in your area to help with electricity costs, or click here.