Returning Home After a Hurricane - Do's and Don'ts

September 4, 2012 at 8:41am

Returning Home After A Hurricane



Returning home after a hurricane can be both physically and mentally challenging.  Above all, use caution and be mindful of the following:


BEFORE YOU ENTER YOUR HOME: Assess the damage by carefully walking around the outside and check for loose power lines, gas leaks, and structural damage. If you have any doubts about safety, have your residence inspected by a qualified building inspector or structural engineer before entering.


DO NOT ENTER IF: You smell gas, floodwaters remain around the building, and/or your home was damaged by fire and the authorities have not declared it safe.


GOING INSIDE YOUR HOME: When you go inside your home, there are certain things you should and should not do. Enter the home carefully and check for damage. Be aware of loose boards and slippery floors. The following items are other things to check inside your home:

•Natural gas - If you smell gas or hear a hissing or blowing sound, open a window and leave immediately. Turn off the main gas valve from the outside, if you can. If possible call the gas company from a neighbor’s residence.

•Sparks, broken or frayed wires - Check the electrical system unless you are wet, standing in water, or unsure of your safety. If possible, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. If the situation is unsafe, leave the building and call for help. Do not turn on the lights until you are sure they’re safe to use. You may want to have an electrician inspect your wiring.

•Roof, foundation, and chimney cracks - If it looks like the building may collapse, leave immediately.

•Appliances - If appliances are wet, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. Then, unplug appliances and let them dry out. Have appliances checked by a professional before using them again.

•Water and sewage systems - If pipes are damaged, turn off the main water valve. Check with local authorities before using any water; the water could be contaminated. Pump out wells and have the water tested by authorities before drinking. Do not flush toilets until you know that sewage lines are intact.

•Food and other supplies - Throw out all food and other supplies that you suspect may have become contaminated or come in to contact with floodwater.

•Your basement - If your basement has flooded, pump it out gradually (about one third of the water per day) to avoid damage. The walls may collapse and the floor may buckle if the basement is pumped out while the surrounding ground is still waterlogged.

•Open cabinets - Be alert for objects that may fall.

•Clean up household chemical spills - Disinfect items that may have been contaminated by raw sewage, bacteria, or chemicals. Also clean salvageable items.

•Call your insurance agent - Take pictures of damages. Keep good records of repair and cleaning costs.



Garbage and Recycling:

For normal, scheduled collection by City contractors:

■Household garbage in garbage carts or secured in thick bags

■Tree limbs and branches cut in less than four (4) feet in length and twelve (12) inches in diameter, and bundled

■Bagged leaves, weeds, grass, small vegetation clippings and hedge clippings

■Carpet less than four (4) feet in length, rolled and tied

■Up to four (4) tires per scheduled collection


For collection of debris as a result of Hurricane Isaac by the City’s emergency debris removal contractors or the Louisiana National Guard, please separate into the following piles:

■Vegetative debris such as tree branches, leaves, logs

■White goods such as refrigerators, freezers, washers, dryers, air conditioners, stoves, water heaters, dishwashers

■E-Waste such as: Computers, radios, stereos, DVD players

■Construction debris such as building materials, drywall, lumber, carpet, furniture, mattresses, plumbing, car tires

■Household Hazardous Waste such as batteries, televisions, pesticides, oils, paints, cleaning supplies, compressed gas,


DO NOT PLACE HURRICANE RELATED DEBRIS, OTHER THAN GARBAGE, IN “BLACK” BAGS.  Contents must be visible for collection by the emergency debris contractors.