Recovering from a disaster can be a daunting task, and knowing how to start picking up the pieces, both literally and figuratively, can be extremely emotionally taxing. Where possible, you should avoid making major decisions, particularly with finances, in the few days following a disastrous event. However, it is sometimes necessary to address certain issues immediately, and this is unavoidable, but you should be aware that the utmost care should be taken during this time.
If you were required to evacuate your home before a disaster took place, do not return to your home to assess any damage caused, until authorities have deemed it safe to do so. You may need to have photo identification with you, which states your address, as authorities will sometimes only allow owners or renters of property back in to the area.
Insurance is there to help you financially when damage or loss occurs. Therefore, you should assess any damage caused by a disaster in and around your home, and in relation to your business, should you be a business owner. Then contact your insurance broker, agent or insurance company to notify them of all damages and losses that have taken place, in order to begin the claims process. You may also wish to contact your insurer in relation to business interruption insurance, if you have this insurance in place for your business. Immediate action, in this regard, will help you to receive reimbursement in a timely fashion.
For claims purposes, the insurance company may wish to have the damage assessed by a professional loss adjuster. Furthermore, they may require pictures of damage and receipts of items that have been lost during the disaster. It is important to understand the requirements of the insurance company during the claims process. Therefore, you should endeavor to ascertain the insurer’s needs before proceeding with any clean-up operations, repairs or debris removal from your property.
It is not uncommon for people affected by disaster to experience extreme emotions. It can be a devastating time, both personally and financially, depending on the event that has taken place and the damage or loss that may have occurred. You and your family may experience such emotions as grief, shock, anger and fear, to name a few. It may be necessary to seek professional help to deal with such emotions, and if you feel overwhelmed, it may be a good idea to seek said help, in order to start the healing process.
Children are at particular emotional risk during disaster recovery. Their view of the world, as a safe place, is temporarily shattered. Therefore, it is important to reassure children and let them know that they are safe. After a disaster, there are steps you can take to help emotional recovery for all members of the family, such as the following:
- Try and return to normal family routines, wherever possible.
- Rest as much as possible, drink plenty of fluids and keep up your energy with regular meals, if you can.
- Try to limit your exposure to visual and audio elements of disaster, such as on television and the radio.
- Discuss positive subjects with family and friends, and try not to dwell on recent events.
- Accept help offered by others.
- Try to participate in enjoyable activities as a family.
- Recognize and accept the amount of time disaster recovery may take.
If you experience a disaster, whether it be natural or otherwise, disaster recovery can and will be a difficult time in your life. However, taking the first step on the road to recovery will help you and your family to see that things can get better in time. You may be able to seek advice and assistance from your local Red Cross and the government organization, FEMA, in time of disaster recovery. More information can be found on their websites at www.redcross.org and www.fema.gov.