Home > Recovery > Recovering From A Disaster

After a storm has passed and you have confirmed that everyone is okay, it's time to assess that damage and begin the recovery phase. Below are some tips to keep in mind when inspecting and cleaning up any storm damage:
  • Wear protective clothing.
  • Use caution if operating machinery to cut up downed tree limbs or debris. 
  • Wear protective face coverings.
  • Do not touch electrical equipment if it is wet or if you are in standing water.
  • Do not drive or walk through standing water. It may be much deeper than you realize and there may be hidden hazards.
  • Electrical power and natural gas or propane tanks should be shut off to avoid fire, electrocution or explosions.
  • If you suspect a gas leak, turn off the main gas valve, open all windows and leave the house immediately. Then call your gas company. Do not return to the house until you are told it is safe to do so. 
Before you start cleaning or making any repairs, remember to:
  • Contact your insurance agent.
  • Take pictures of damage.
  • Keep good records of repair and cleaning costs.

Remember to wait for officials to declare the area safe before returning home. 

Electrical Damage
Severe storms that cause structural damage may impact your electrical system. Use caution when restoring power to avoid fire and damage to your electronics. 
  • If you see frayed wiring or sparks when you restore power, or if there is an odor of something burning but no visible fire, you should immediately shut off the electrical system at the main circuit breaker.
  • You should consult your utility company about using electrical equipment, including power generators. Be aware that it is against the law and a violation of electrical codes to connect generators to your home's electrical circuits without the approved automatic-interrupt devices. If a generator is online when electrical service is restored, it can become a major fire hazard. In addition, the improper connection of a generator to your home's electrical circuits may endanger line workers helping to restore power in your area.
  • Replace the electrical outlet and have the system checked by a certified electrician before turning on the circuit breakers and energizing the outlet for use.
Contact Your Utility Company: 
(800) 683-5542
(904) 665-6000
 
(904) 247-6241
 
(800) 468-8243
 
Water Damage
If your home experienced water damage during a storm, you need to clean and disinefect everything that got wet, as floodwaters can contain sewage, bacteria, and chemicals. Take precaution to ensure that you remediate any water damage safely.
  • Wear personal protective equipment. Wear at least an N-95 respirator, goggles, and protective gloves.
  • Open windows or doors when using any cleaning products.
  • Never mix bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser.
  • Children should not be involved in disaster clean-up.
  • Have your home heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning system (HVAC) checked and cleaned by a service professional experienced in mold clean-up before you turn it on. If the system was flooded with water, turning it on will spread mold throughout the house.
  • Move out saturated, porous materials such as upholstered furniture or mattresses, especially if there is fungal growth. 
You may need to contact a professional to dry out your home or tear out flooring, drywall, insulation, or other materials that were damaged by floodwaters. The Department of Business and Professional Regulation is responsible for licensing and regulating mold assessors and mold remediators. 
Home Repair After A Storm
If your home is damaged in a disaster and you need to hire a home repair contractor, use the checklist below to avoid being the victim of fraud:
  • File a claim with your insurance company.
  • Obtain at least three estimates and ensure that they cover the same scope of work.
  • Do you research on your selected contractors consumer complaint history. 
  • Check the contractors license with the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation (DBPR) or the City of Jacksonville Construction Trades Qualifying Board, and verify their insurance. 
  • Obtain a written contract and verify that the entirety of the project is documented in the contract.
  • DO NOT pay large sums of money up front, pay in increments according to stages of project completion.
  • Pay by credit card instead of cash.
The following are red flags to watch out for when hiring a home repair contractor:
  • Soliciting door-to-door without being able to provide any identifying information about the business.
  • Requesting payment in full, in advance of any work being completed. Also requesting that payments be made to an individual and not a business. 
  • Utilizing high pressure sales tactics, such as, prices are only good for today and urging you to make a decision without doing any research.
  • Refusing to provide a contract or documentation for the proposed project.
  • Requesting that you pull permits yourself.
Post-Storm Debris Removal
The City of Jacksonville maintains more than 3,600 miles of roads across 842 square miles in Duval County. In the event of a major storm, the city’s first priority will be to clear debris from the streets for emergency personnel and to provides access to critical sites such as hospitals; electric, water and sewer facilities; and emergency resource storage areas. Second, the city will clear key city-maintained thoroughfares. Similarly, the Florida Department of Transportation will clear state and federal roadways. In the event of a major storm, it may be some time before neighborhoods are fully cleared of debris and standing water. The top priority in neighborhoods will be to facilitate access for emergency vehicles.

Coordinated neighborhood debris collection will begin after the initial road clearance efforts are complete.
 
  • Debris Separation: Separate debris into the four following categories. Failure to keep debris separated by type may prevent workers from collecting it.
    • White Goods/Appliances
    • Construction & Demolition/Bulky Waste Debris- Building Materials, carpet,
      drywall, fencing, furniture, lumber,mattresses, plumbing
    • Vegetative Debris- Leaves, logs, plants, tree branches, bag leaves for weekly pick-up
      (5 cubic yards/30 bags) Do not put vegetative debris in City-issued trash or recycling carts.
    • Routine Household Waste
  • When to Place Debris: Debris should be placed curbside as soon as safely possible after the storm to ensure efficient removal. Storm recovery crews make multiple passes, targeting areas with the heaviest debris first.
  • Where to Place Debris: Debris should be placed curbside without blocking the roadway or storm drains. Place debris at least three feet from all obstacles. Do not stack or lean debris against utility boxes/poles, mailboxes, fire hydrants, or other structures. Do not place debris under trees or power lines.
  • Do Not Burn Debris: Burning storm debris is a violation of Jacksonville’s year-round burn ban. Citizens can report this violation to 630-CITY (2489) by phone or online at myjax.custhelp.com.
Applying For Federal Disaster Assistance
FEMA currently operates a program that will assist in helping the citizens of Jacksonville recover after a disaster called the Individual Assistance Program. This program provides crisis counseling, disaster unemployment assistance, disaster legal services, and housing resources among other services. To be eligible for FEMA Individual Assistance, the President must make a disaster declaration authorizing it. This will be publicized. To apply for assistance, either visit a Disaster Recovery Center or go online to www.disasterassistance.gov.

Before applying for assistance, be sure to have a Social Security Number and be a U.S. Citizen, Non-Citizen National, or Qualified Alien. You should also have copies of your insurance documents and the coverage they provide, information on the damages sustained to your property, your family’s total annual household income (before taxes) at the time of the disaster, and contact information for where you can be reached. As part of the screening process for Individual Assistance, you must also complete a Small Business Administration (SBA) assistance package. FEMA will not process an Individual Assistance claim without the SBA application package.

Additionally, homeowners and renters may be eligible to apply for SBA disaster loans. For homeowners, these loans may be used to replace or repair your primary residence. For renters, these personal property loans may be used to replace or repair items such as clothing, furniture, cars, and appliances that were damaged or destroyed during the declared disaster. Visit the Small Business Administration for more information on home and personal property loans.