HURRICANE ASSISTANCE AND RESOURCES
I have family and many friends and clients who have homes in Rockport, Port Aransas, Bay City, Victoria and/or Houston. I watched the Hurricane Harvey reporting with dread and fascination thinking I knew what they were going through. Then 2 weeks later I realized none of us can understand until you have a home or business in harm’s way. Last year we bought a home on Marco Island, Florida. Watching Hurricane Irma drill down on Marco Island was an entirely different experience. I am still not sure the damage we sustained. While I wait, I have done some research and received some information from advisors and friends which I thought I would share. This information is for anyone who is dealing with the damage caused by these devastating hurricanes.
First some important websites.
- Often there are extensions granted in storm areas for filing income tax returns – if you have been affected here is the IRS link for Texas.Florida has not been issued but I expect to have those shortly:https://www.irs.gov/uac/newsroom/tax-relief-for-victims-of-severe-storms-and-flooding-in-texas-houston-area
- If you need assistance with filing a claim or to know if you can, here is the link to sign up with FEMA:https://www.disasterassistance.gov/ or call 800-621-3362 (7 am-11 pm 7 days/wk.).
- Call your insurance company now – homeowners, flood, wind, auto – all of them. The longer you wait, the further down the list you will be. Also, be mindful of what your insurance policies cover. Make sure you get copies of your policies and review the details relating to coverages and deductibles. Keep in mind that irreplaceable and high valued items not specifically listed on your policy may not be covered.
- As soon as you can safely get back to your home, you should do two things: (1) secure your property; and (2) remove wet carpet, drywall and furniture (this will prevent further damages). Communities should be instructing residents on where to place the debris, usually curbside, but not blocking the traffic flow needed for emergency response. Also, there should be communication from the communities about how to separate debris such as hazardous household materials. We have heard you should leave a portion of the damaged drywall in one small area for the adjusters to see.
- Save every receipt. All costs to evacuate, hotel, gas, everything. Keep it all in one safe place.
- Take lots of pictures with your phone; videos are even better. You need to collect this for FEMA and insurance.
- For your household contents: Inventory damaged items in a spreadsheet. The spreadsheet and pictures will save you an immense amount of time for claims.
- For damage to your home – if you must have emergency repairs to HVAC, electrical, roof, etc., keep records, including receipts. Take before and after pictures.
- Make sure you have all your important identifying information; report all lost passports, licenses and social security cards immediately and order replacements.
- If you lost your estate planning documents we have scanned copies which can get you through until we can re-produce and re-sign originals for you.
How You Can Help
If you were not in harm’s way and you are wondering what if anything you can do here are some suggestions if you want to DO something for your friends:
- Household items/cleaning supplies
- Clean up assistance/manual labor
- Childcare assistance/babysitting
- A place to stay
- Equipment (shovels, power washers, generators, etc.)
Most of all be safe and if you need us for any reason please call.
Your friends at TLF