Storm Recovery Guide for Homeowners

Storm Recovery Guide for Homeowners
Storm Recovery
Table of Contents
1. Be Safe: Stay Healthy after a Disaster...................................................................................................... 4
Safety in a Disaster Area...........................................................................................................................................4
Dangers of Debris.....................................................................................................................................................4
Approaching and Entering a Damaged Building......................................................................................................5
Food and Water Safety..............................................................................................................................................5
You May Run into Critters in Unusual Places..........................................................................................................6
Avoiding Mold Hazards............................................................................................................................................7
These are Trying Times.............................................................................................................................................8
2. Surviving and Recovering from a Power Outage................................................................................... 10
Using Generators for Electrical Power...................................................................................................................10
Play it Safe with Food.............................................................................................................................................11
How to Cook when the Power Goes Off.................................................................................................................12
Removing Odors from Refrigerator and Freezer....................................................................................................12
Power Outage in Winter..........................................................................................................................................13
3. Restoring Storm-damaged Buildings...................................................................................................... 14
Determining Structural Damage.............................................................................................................................14
Preliminary Repairs................................................................................................................................................15
Dry Well to Prevent Decay.....................................................................................................................................15
Flooding and Damage-causing Pests (termites, boring insects, fungi)...................................................................16
Repairing the Roof After a Storm...........................................................................................................................17
Strengthen Weak Points..........................................................................................................................................18
4. Salvaging Water-damaged Belongings.................................................................................................... 19
Caring for Large Electrical Appliances..................................................................................................................19
Salvaging and Cleaning Furniture..........................................................................................................................20
Cleaning Carpets and Floors...................................................................................................................................21
Cleaning Storm-soaked Clothing............................................................................................................................21
5. Lawn and Garden Losses......................................................................................................................... 22
Salvage Tips............................................................................................................................................................22
Tree Debris and Renewal........................................................................................................................................23
Assessing Landscape Tree Loss..............................................................................................................................23
Small Fruit Strategies after a Storm........................................................................................................................24
Salinity and Turfgrass after a Hurricane.................................................................................................................25
6. Financial Recovery and Risk Management............................................................................................. 26
Documenting Losses and Claims............................................................................................................................26
Filing for Insurance.................................................................................................................................................26
Homeowner’s Insurance..........................................................................................................................................26
Flood Insurance.......................................................................................................................................................27
Credit and Other Sources of Relief.........................................................................................................................28
Contracting for Repairs and Rebuilding.................................................................................................................28
Contract Essentials..................................................................................................................................................29
Be Safe:
Stay Healthy after a Disaster
Natural Hazards Series: Recovery - Part 1
The forces of nature – wind, water, earthquake and
extremes of temperature – can leave behind debris-strewn
areas, contaminated water, spoiled food, displaced wildlife
and conditions which, if not treated properly, may lead to
health problems. In these pages you’ll find information to
help you avoid and recover from some of the hazards created by wind and water; severe winter weather is covered
in a separate publication. Remember to take care of yourself and your family first, then deal with the things you
may have lost to the disaster.
Safety in a Disaster Area
• Keep a radio on so you can hear bulletins and other announcements.
• Avoid riding, driving or walking through a flooded area.
Flooded roads are weakened, ditches are hard to distinguish from roads and bridges may be washed out. Never
go around a police barricade.
• Walk or drive cautiously. Debris-filled streets are dangerous. In flooded areas, washouts may have weakened
roads and bridges, and they could collapse under the
weight of your vehicle.
• Don’t touch any building, car or other structure that
has a fallen power line touching it. Call a professional
electrician or power company representative to remove
the line.
• Don’t use flames or sparking devices until you’re sure
there is no natural gas leaking in the area.
• Be careful around damaged buildings and trees. These
may fall if damaged severely.
• Wear protective clothing, sturdy shoes and gloves.
• Assume that water supplies are contaminated.
• Consider all foods that have been in contact with floodwater to be contaminated.
• Be aware that snakes, rodents and other animals may
have taken refuge in storm debris or even in your home.
Use a poking stick to announce your approach and allow animals to flee.
• If you are bitten by a poisonous snake, don’t try to treat
the bite yourself. Go to the nearest hospital for treatment
immediately. Make a mental note of the appearance of
the snake for identification and treatment purposes.
• Keep small children, pregnant women and people with
health problems away from the flooded areas until
cleanup is complete.
• If children are in the area, be sure they are safe and being cared for at all times. Never leave young children
alone or allow them to play in damaged buildings or
areas strewn with debris.
• Learn to recognize and deal with stress.
• If you get a scratch, cut or brush burn from flood debris
and have not had a tetanus booster in the last few years,
consult your doctor immediately.
Dangers of Debris
Debris is hazardous. It often has sharp or rough edges;
it may cause falls; it may contain hazardous material such
as asbestos, lead or fiberglass; and it may have been contaminated with chemicals or germs by the flood or storm.
Floodwater may have flowed through the local sewerage system before reaching your property. If it has come
from upriver, it may contain contaminated runoff. Such
water may have elevated levels of fecal coliform and
chemicals. Floodwaters may have picked up pesticides,
herbicides, fertilizers, gasoline and other chemicals commonly held in household storage areas.
The bacteria which cause tetanus, or lockjaw, may
lie dormant in soil. This is why cuts from tools or other
objects that have been on the ground are particularly hazardous. Once the dormant forms (spores) of tetanus enter
the body, they begin to multiply and form a powerful toxin
that affects muscles. The most common symptoms are a
stiffness of the neck muscles and painful spasms of the jaw
muscles. Other muscle spasms may occur later. Tetanus
frequently causes death. Symptoms of tetanus may appear
from four days to three weeks after the wound is infected.
About half the tetanus cases in the United States result
from injuries considered trivial at the time they happen.
If you have not had immunization against tetanus and
receive a scratch, cut or brush burn, consult a physician
immediately. An immediate injection of tetanus antitoxin
will last long enough to prevent infection from developing,
if given in time.
Hazardous Materials
Some of the debris on your property may contain
asbestos (roofing, siding, flooring tiles) or be painted with
lead-based paint (pre-1978 paint). Airborne asbestos and
lead dust are dangerous to inhale or ingest (eat), but they
are generally harmless when wet. They should be handled
with gloves and bagged while wet. Fiberglass fibers from
insulation will irritate skin and lungs after contact or if
inhaled; collect carefully and bag.
In areas where burning is permitted, be particularly
careful not to burn asphalt roofing, vinyl siding or any
form of treated lumber. The smoke can cause eye and lung
Natural Hazards Series: Recovery - Part 1
irritation or other problems. Don’t burn wood with leadbased paint since the lead fumes are poisonous.
Proper cleanup and disposal of debris will reduce the
potential for nesting by rodents, snakes and insects. If your
debris will not be disposed of quickly, be sure to pile it as
far from the building as possible to keep infestations in a
concentrated area away from the home. Don’t let children
play on or around debris.
Approaching and Entering a
Damaged Building
Before entering a damaged building, check for structural damage. Make sure the building is not in danger of
collapsing. Look for leaning walls, sagging roofs and ceilings, and weakened support columns.
• Turn off any outside gas lines, and let the house ventilate for several minutes to remove escaping gas. • Be sure all electric service is turned off before entering
for the first time. If the main disconnect is inside the
house, it would be wise to call your utility company for
assistance. Even if power is out in your neighborhood,
disconnect the main switch, fuse or circuit breaker at
your home, and disconnect all circuits.
• When entering the building, don’t use an open flame
as a light source; use a battery-operated flashlight. DO
• Enter carefully. Walking surfaces may be slippery or
uneven. Check for a sagging ceiling; wet insulation
or pocketed water can cause ceilings to fall. Once in,
unplug all appliances that have been flooded. Remember that some appliances can shock you even after the
power is turned off.
Part 3 of this publication deals with determining and
stopping structural damage.
Food and Water Safety
After a major storm or flood, you
must assume all water sources are
contaminated until they are proved
safe. Purify all water used for drinking, cooking and for washing eating
and cooking utensils. Also purify the water
used for washing hands, body and kitchen and bathroom
surfaces. Do NOT try to use or purify water that has a dark
color, an odor or contains floating material. Note that the
purification procedures outlined here reduce biological
contamination only; if you suspect chemical contamination, do not use the water.
Choose ONE of these methods to purify water that
has biological contamination. Boiling is the most effective
method of disinfecting of water, particularly for people
who have severely weakened immune systems (infected
with HIV/AIDS, cancer and transplant patients taking imNatural Hazards Series: Recovery - Part 1
munosuppressive drugs, or people born with a weakened
immune system) and for infants and elderly who wish to
take extra precautions.
• Boil water for one full minute in a clean container. The
one-minute boil time begins after the water has been
brought to a rolling boil. (The flat taste can be eliminated by shaking the water in a bottle or pouring it from
one container to another.)
• If the water is clear, mix 1/8 teaspoon or 16 drops of unscented, liquid chlorine laundry bleach with one gallon
of water and let it stand for at least 30 minutes prior to
consumption. If the water is cloudy or colored, use 1/4
teaspoon per gallon of water. Be sure to mix thoroughly. If the treated water has a chlorine taste, pour it from one
clean container to another several times.
References: USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service,
Keeping Food Safe During an Emergency, 2005 and
Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, Office
of Public Health, News Release, Drinking Water Warning Issued to Southeast LA Residents, August 31, 2005
• Other treatments such as iodine or purification tablets
are not recommended.
Water Well Purification
How do I clean and disinfect my well after a flood?
After a flood, it is important to take every precaution to
ensure the safety of your well water. First, it is necessary
to inspect and clean the well and pump before using them.
You may want to have your water well driller or contractor
out the well before using it.
• Do not turn on the pump until an electrician or well
contractor has checked the wiring. There is a risk of
electrical shock! After the proper inspections have taken
place, run the pump and discard the water until the well
water runs clear.
• Most important, after a flood, you should disinfect the
well. This can be accomplished by following the procedures outlined below; however, it is advisable to hire a
well contractor to disinfect the well for you.
• Pump the well for several hours to reduce the cloudiness
and contaminant levels in the water.
• Pour 4 gallons of a chlorine bleach solution into the
well. Chlorine bleach solution consists of 1 gallon of
bleach with 3 gallons of clean water. Open every faucet
and pump the water until the water coming out of the
faucet smells like chlorine, and then turn off each faucet. If you do not smell chlorine at the faucet, add a little
more chlorine solution until the smell is detected.
• Let the system sit for 24 hours.
• Open the faucets and run the water until the chlorine
smell disappears.
• Have the water sampled and tested. The water IS NOT
safe for drinking until lab results show no indication
of total coliform bacteria. You can discuss the final
lab results with the lab or local parish health unit. It is
important to remember that disinfection will not remove
chemicals which may have contaminated your well during a flood.
Foods and Food Preparation Items
Contaminated by Flood Water
• Do not eat any food that may have come into contact
with floodwater.
• Discard all food that came in contact with floodwaters
canned goods. It is impossible to know if the
containers were damaged and the seal compromised.
• Discard wooden cutting boards, wooden spoons, plastic
utensils, baby bottle nipples and pacifiers. There is no
way to safely clean them if they have come in contact
with contaminated flood waters.
• Thoroughly wash metal pans, ceramic dishes and utensils with hot soapy water and sanitize by boiling them
in clean water or by immersing them for 15 minutes in
a solution of 1 teaspoon of chlorine bleach per quart of
• Clean and sanitize all kitchen surfaces, especially those
that may have been contaminated by floodwaters.
• Wash and sanitize your dishes, utensils and kitchen appliances before using them.
Foods Flooded While “on the vine”
Discard any fruits and vegetables you did not harvest
before a flood. This applies to any food product which was
maturing or mature at the time of the flood, both above and
below ground. Examples include squash, cabbage, broccoli, tomatoes, potatoes and carrots. Most home garden
plants will die from the flood. In the absence of specific
research on the safety of produce from a plant which
was exposed to flood water before fruit set, and given the
uncertainty of what may have been in the floodwater, the
LSU AgCenter recommends pulling up and discarding a
flooded garden and replanting it.
You May Run into Critters
in Unusual Places
Many animals in the path of
a major storm are displaced
and left homeless. It’s common to find these animals
seeking shelter and food in areas close to people — in
houses, storage sheds, barns and other buildings — and under debris. Structures damaged in a storm are particularly
attractive and provide easy access for wildlife.
• Watch where you place your hands and feet when removing or cleaning debris. If possible, don’t place your
fingers under debris you intend to move.
• Wear snake-proof boots at least 10 inches high or snake
leggings in heavy debris areas where snakes are likely to
be found.
• Never step over logs or other obstacles unless you can
see the other side.
As soon as possible after a storm, remove from around
houses and buildings all debris that provides protective
cover for displaced animals. Keep the lawn and field vegetation mowed at a low level to eliminate protective cover.
Remove any potential food source.
Rats, mice and squirrels are unwelcome post-storm
guests. They can damage property and, in extreme cases,
pose a potential health problem. It’s a good idea to get rid
of them. Seal all openings around the house a quarter-inch
and larger to exclude snakes and other animals.
Tips on Rodent Traps and Baits
• Poison baits registered for rat and mouse control contain
anticoagulant and nonanticoagulant toxicants. All rodent
baits are effective in controlling these pests.
• Snap traps are effective in capturing nuisance rats and
mice. Successful trap baits for the trigger mechanism
include bacon skin, peanut butter, oatmeal and cotton
balls. Check traps each day.
• Traps, including No. 0 or 1 leghold traps, box traps and
cage traps, will catch squirrels. Regular rat traps will
catch flying squirrels. Good baits are apple, cracked
corn and pecans removed from the shell, peanut butter
and sunflower seeds. Snakes
In the South, there are many more species of
nonpoisonous snakes than poisonous snakes.
It’s important to realize both poisonous
and nonpoisonous snakes are beneficial to
people by keeping rodent populations down.
Since rodents are also displaced by storms, this is especially important.
Learn to identify nonpoisonous and poisonous snakes.
Information on snake identification can be obtained from
books such as field guides on amphibians and reptiles
from the state wildlife department or from your local LSU
AgCenter Office.
If you encounter a snake outdoors, step back and allow
it to proceed on its way. Snakes usually move slowly, and a
person can easily retreat from a snake’s path. If you find a
snake in your house, try to isolate the snake within a small
area of the house.
Nonpoisonous snakes can be captured by pinning them
down with a long stick or pole, preferably forked at one
end, and then scooping them up with a flat-blade shovel. If
you are uncomfortable removing the snake yourself, seek
someone within the community who has experience handling snakes to do it for you. A good starting point is your
local animal control shelter or sheriff’s department.
As a last resort, you may need to kill a poisonous
snake. Club it with a long stick, rod or other tool such as a
garden hoe. Never try to kill a poisonous snake with an instrument that brings you within the snake’s striking range
(usually estimated at less than one-half the total length of
the snake).
No legal toxicants or fumigants are registered to kill
snakes. Repellents are available, but they have limited success.
Natural Hazards Series: Recovery - Part 1
Natural Hazards Series: Recovery “Black mold” is a meaningless term since many types
For Your Health
are black. It has become a popular label for Stachybotrys,
A flood-damaged building requires special attention
to avoid or correct a mold population explosion. Mold
problems can result in damage to materials and health. The
longer mold is allowed to grow, the greater the risk and the
harder it is to remedy. As soon as the floodwaters recede
and it is safe to return, don’t delay clean-up and dry out.
What Is Mold?
Molds are a type of fungi. They serve as nature’s
recycler by helping to break down dead materials. Molds
produce tiny cells called spores that float and spread easily
through the air. Live spores act like seeds, forming mold
growths (colonies) when they find the right conditions
– moisture, nutrients (nearly anything organic) and a suitable place to grow. Of these, moisture is the key factor
-- for growth and for control.
Mold and Health
Exposure to molds can affect health. People are mainly
exposed by breathing spores or tiny fragments, but can
also be affected through skin contact and by eating mold
food. Both live and dead mold spores can
affect people.
The types and severity of health effects from mold
vary widely and are hard to predict. It depends on the sensitivity of the person, the amount and type of exposure, the
length of exposure, the types of mold and other factors. The most common health problems caused by mold
are allergic reactions. People who are sensitive to mold
commonly report nasal and sinus congestion, coughing,
wheezing/breathing difficulties, sore throat, skin and eye
irritation, sinus and upper respiratory infections. Although
there is wide variation in how different people are affected,
long term or high exposure can be unhealthy for anyone.
Exposure to mold can trigger asthma attacks, may suppress
the immune system or have other effects. At greater risk of being affected more severely and
sooner than others are children, the elderly, people with
respiratory conditions or sensitivities such as allergies and
asthma, and those having weakened immune systems. If
you feel you or your family’s health is affected by mold or
you have special health concerns that increase your risk,
you should avoid any more exposure and tell your doctor
or health professional about your symptoms and mold
What is “toxic mold”?
Some types of mold can produce harmful chemical
compounds (called mycotoxins) in certain conditions, but
don’t always do so. Molds that are able to produce toxins
are common. If a toxin is produced, it may be present in
live and dead spores and fragments. Although potential effects of specific mycotoxins are
known, identifying a mold that can produce mycotoxins
does not tell you whether or not you have been or will be
exposed to a toxin in a harmful amount. Still, all indoor
mold growth is potentially harmful and should be removed
promptly, no matter what type of mold is present or
whether or not it can produce a toxin.
Natural Hazards Series: Recovery - Part 1
a toxigenic mold that has received major media attention
for its suspected, yet not proven, connection to serious
conditions and infant deaths. Mold Testing and Remediation Services
Mold testing in a home is not usually needed and is
rarely useful to answer health concerns. Some insurance
companies and legal services may require sampling for
evidence. Professional mold remediation contractors may
test before and after cleanup to verify the cleanup’s effectiveness. To protect your family’s health and home, make sure
the mold clean-up process is done as safely and completely
as possible – as soon as possible. Using a well-trained and
properly equipped professional can offer the safest remediation, but this is often not possible for many. If you hire a
contractor to remove mold, seek a licensed mold remediation contractor with special training and equipment such as
HEPA vacuums and dehumidifiers. Get in writing the cost,
methods and steps to be used. Compare their procedures
with EPA’s Mold Remediation In Schools and Commercial
Buildings available online at Also
review the CDC’s Mold Prevention Strategies and Possible
Health Effects in the Aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and
Rita available online at
Do-It-Yourself Mold Removal Guidelines
If you need to or choose to clean up on your own, use
these steps to do so as safely and effectively as you can
and refer to EPA’s A Brief Guide To Mold, Moisture, and
Your Home at
1.Wear Protective Gear: Always wear a respirator rated
N-95 or higher when inside a moldy space. During
clean-up, also wear gloves and goggles. Go outside frequently to breathe fresh air. Some types of respirators
to make it easier to breathe.
fit valves
A properly
ted half-face or full-face respirator with filter cartridges
provides greater protection and comfort than the dust
mask types.
2.Isolate Work Area and Ventilate to Outdoors: Disturbing
mold colonies during cleanup can cause a huge release
of spores into the air, so seal off the moldy areas from
the rest of the house. Open windows, and don’t run the
central air system during cleanup. Tape plastic over air
grilles, and drape plastic in the stairwell if the second
story is dry and clean. If power is on, put a box fan in a
window to blow out and exhaust mold-filled air to the
3.Remove Moldy Porous Materials: Porous moldy or sewage-contaminated materials should be removed, put in
plastic bags if possible and thrown away. To reduce the
release and spread of mold spores, it is helpful to cover
moldy material with plastic sheeting before removing it. • Remove all flooded carpeting, upholstery, fabrics
and mattresses right away. It’s best to discard them,
but if you hope to salvage a valuable item, have it
cleaned, disinfected and dried quickly outside the
home. Never reuse flooded padding.
• Remove all wet fibrous insulation – even if
wallboard appears to dry. Wet insulation will stay
wet far too long, leading to the growth of hidden
unhealthy mold and decay fungi inside the walls.
Cut wall covering above the level that was wet;
water can wick up above the flood level.
• It’s best to remove all moldy, porous materials,
especially if there is heavy or long-term mold
growth -- including gypsum wallboard, processed
wood products (particle board, chip board, etc.),
ceiling tiles and paper products. • Plaster, wood paneling and non-paper faced gypsum
board walls that dried, are in good condition and
have no insulation in the wall may be cleaned
and sanitized to salvage them. It’s best to remove
multiple layers of paint on old plaster to aid drying.
There is a risk of mold on the backside, however,
that can release spores into the home through air
leaks in the walls. If you choose to restore these
materials, try to seal interior gaps with caulk.
• Remove all vinyl wallpaper, flooring, and any other
materials that hamper drying of framing toward the
interior space. All interior side plastic sheeting, foil
faced insulation and anything else that can act as a
water vapor barrier should be removed.
4.Clean and Disinfect: Surface mold can be effectively
cleaned from non-porous materials such as hard plastic, concrete, glass and metal; solid wood can also be
cleaned since mold cannot penetrate solid wood, but
grows only on the surface. Cleaning should remove, not
just kill, the mold, because dead spores can still cause
health problems.
After cleaning, you may choose to use a disinfectant
to kill any mold missed by the cleaning. If there was
sewage contamination, disinfection is a must. If you
disinfect, follow label directions and warnings, handle
carefully, wear rubber gloves, and never mix bleach
with ammonia or acids. Many disinfectants, including
bleach, can kill molds, but do not prevent regrowth of
new colonies.
• Remove any sediment. Hose out opened wall
cavities, if necessary.
• Wash dirty or moldy materials with non-phosphate
all-purpose cleaners, because phosphate residue
is mold food. Rough surfaces may need to be
scrubbed. Rinse, but avoid pressure spray that can
force water into materials.
• If available, use a HEPA filtered vacuum (not a
regular vacuum) to remove dust and mold residue.
• Disinfect wall cavities and other materials after
cleaning to kill any remaining fungi and bacteria.
Soil can make some disinfectants, including bleach,
less effective. On colorfast, non-metal surfaces,
you can disinfect with a solution of 1/2 - 1 cup
household chlorine bleach per gallon of water. Do
not use in the air conditioning system. Milder, less
corrosive disinfectants include alcohols, phenolics
and hydrogen peroxide.
5. Consider Borate Treatment: Applying a borate treatment to wood framing can provide some resistance to
termites, decay and mold. The type of borate solution
that penetrates the wood over time is more expensive
but offers greater protection. Other mold inhibitors such
as latex zinc paints and fungicides may also help inhibit
mold growth during drying. Do NOT apply sealants that
can reduce drying.
Framing materials that are difficult to clean or replace
(such as “blackboard”, OSB sheathing, rough surfaces,
etc.) can be painted with latex paint to “encapsulate”
any remaining mold and prevent its release to the air.
6. Flush the Air: After cleaning and disinfecting, air out
the building. Use fans in windows to pull mold spores to
the outdoors.
7. Speed Dry: Dry all wet materials as quickly as possible. Close windows and air condition or heat, run fans
and use a dehumidifier, if possible. If there is no power,
keep windows open.
8. Remain on Mold Alert: Continue looking for signs of
moisture or new mold growth. New mold can form in as
little as 2-3 days if materials stay wet. Wood and other
materials that may look dry can still be wet enough to
support new growth. If mold returns, repeat cleaning
and, if possible, use speed drying equipment and moisture meters. Regrowth may signal that the material was
not dry enough or should be removed.
9.Do Not Restore until All Materials Have Dried
Completely: Wood moisture content should be less than
20%. Do NOT use vinyl wallpaper, oil-based paint or
other interior finishes that block drying to the inside.
10. Restore with Flood Resistant Materials: If possible,
“wet floodproof” your home so it can withstand a
flood with less damage. Use closed-cell spray foam
insulation in walls, or rigid foam insulating sheathing that does not absorb water. Choose solid wood or
water-resistant composite materials. Elevate wiring and
equipment. Consider removable, cleanable wainscoting
or paneling. Use paperless drywall that does not provide
a food source for mold. Use restorable flooring such as
ceramic tile, solid wood, stained concrete, etc.
These are Trying Times
A natural disaster leaves more than a
trail of property destruction in its wake.
Many times it leaves thousands of victims
with a destroyed sense of balance. In addition to avoiding physical hazards, restoring
buildings and replacing material possessions
during the recovery period, you need to be
aware of stress and how to reduce it. During the recovery
period, devote some time to getting your stress level under
Start by being patient with yourself and others. Don’t
expect things to restore themselves instantly. Focus on the
big picture instead of the little details. Determine what’s
really important, and keep in mind that different people,
even in your own household, will have different priorities.
Be tolerant of mood swings and expressions of disbelief,
anger, sadness, anxiety and depression. Don’t overlook the
feelings of children.
Natural Hazards Series: Recovery - Part 1
Tips for Handling Stress
• Try to keep your body healthy and strong. Keep
your family’s diet as nourishing as possible.
• Talk with friends, family, ministers. In crisis
situations, a supportive network is essential.
Provide help to other families when possible; it
will make both of you feel better.
• Resist the temptation to resort to bad habits.
Alcohol, blaming, denial, smoking, overeating
and revenge eventually cause more problems
than they solve.
• Think positive. Develop a sense that things will
work out.
• Make time for rest and relaxation.
Helping Your Child Cope
Children cope with stress every day. One of their biggest stressors is fear. Children’s four major fears are death,
darkness, animals and being abandoned. Children have
a variety of fears: being afraid of the dark or the doctor or
the vacuum cleaner, for instance. Disasters are somewhat
different for children because they affect entire communities. Disaster is highly publicized and children sense that
adults, too, seem to be afraid. So, it is normal for children
to remain stressed and have a hard time coping for a long
time after a disaster.
Even children who have not been in the disaster may
be afraid and worried that it will happen to them. Young
children are usually worried because they don’t understand
what is happening. They can’t always tell the difference
between what is real and what is pretend. Schoolchildren
are worried for a different reason. They can tell the difference, but don’t yet fully understand the laws of probability.
They understand what causes a storm but may expect
disasters or storms to reappear soon and often.
It’s hard to predict which children will be most affected and how. Research indicates children’s fears vary
according to age, maturation and previous learning experiences. In a disaster, children may have encountered three
of the four major fears. Undoubtedly, this will have an
impact on their ability to cope for quite some time.
Another important aspect about children’s fears indicated in research is that fears may be intensified when
adults back away from discussing painful topics with
children. Many families ban all painful topics from family
conversation. Such strategies reap high costs in terms of
intensified despair and negativity among children. Talk to
the children about the disaster and their fears.
After a disaster, some children may:
• be upset at the loss of a favorite toy, blanket, teddy bear,
• be angry. They may hit, throw, kick or act out in other
• become more active and restless. They may wander
about and not be able to settle down.
• be afraid of the disaster recurring. This is especially true
Natural Hazards Series: Recovery - Part 1
if there is another storm or heavy rain soon. They may
ask repeatedly, “Will it come again?”
be afraid to be left alone or afraid to sleep alone. Children may want to sleep with a parent or another person.
They may have nightmares.
behave as they did when younger (sucking the thumb,
wetting the bed, asking for a bottle, wanting to be
have symptoms of illness such as nausea, vomiting,
headaches, not wanting to eat, running a fever.
be quiet and withdrawn, not wanting to talk about what
happened to them.
become upset easily - crying and whining.
feel guilty that they caused the disaster because of
something they did.
feel neglected by parents who are busy trying to clean
up and rebuild their lives and homes.
refuse to go to school or to child care. The child may
not want to be out of the parent’s sight.
become afraid of loud noises, rain, storms.
not show any outward sign of being upset. Some
children may never show distress because they do not
feel upset. Other children may not give any evidence of
being upset until several weeks or months later.
What parents and other adults can do to help children
cope with feelings:
Talk openly about what is going on. Give simple, direct answers to questions. Children have radar. They know
when adults are afraid or worried and not telling them the
truth. They hear other adults talk. It doesn’t help to tell a
child “not to worry” yet show all the signs of worrying
yourself. Take time to talk openly, honestly and often.
Listen to your child. Watch your child at play. Often
children express fear and anger when playing with dolls,
trucks or friends after a major disaster. Acknowledge the
child’s feelings, and encourage conversation.
Reassure your child, “We are together. We care about
you. We will take care of you.”
Hold your child. Provide comfort. Touching is important for children during this period. Close contact
helps assure children that you are there for them and will
not abandon them
Spend extra time putting your child to bed. Talk and
offer assurance. Leave a nightlight on if that makes the
child feel more secure.
Help “act out” with books, art, toys and drama. Work
with claydough, paint, water play. If children need something to kick or hit, give them something safe like a pillow,
ball or balloon.
If your child lost a special toy or blanket, allow him
to mourn and grieve (by crying, perhaps). It is all part of
helping the young child cope with feelings about disaster.
In time, it may be helpful to replace the lost object.
For more information, contact your local LSU AgCenter Office listed under local government in the telephone
Surviving and Recovering
From a Power Outage
Natural Hazards Series: Recovery - Part 2
One of the first things to go in a natural disaster is
electrical service. You may suffer an outage even if you
escape all other aspects of a storm, but it doesn’t take a
disaster to disrupt your service. An automobile accident or
fallen tree may take out your power. The power company
itself may suffer an equipment failure. Generally, these
localized problems can be corrected before you need to
take any action.
It is generally a good idea to turn off air conditioners, heaters and other appliances while the power is off.
Otherwise, they will try to come on together when power
is restored, and your circuits breakers or fuses may blow.
Unplugging appliances will also protect them from power
cycles and surges which may accompany restoration of
electrical service.
Your primary concern with a prolonged power outage
during the summer is usually knowing whether the food
stored in refrigerators and freezers is safe. In severely hot
weather, the loss of electric fans may also be life threatening. In severely cold weather, trying to stay warm and
prevent freeze damage will be of concern.
If the power is off or will be off for an extended period, the information on these pages may help.
Using Generators for
Electrical Power
Emergency generators become
popular after disasters. They can help
save food in freezers and refrigerators,
but they also may be dangerous if not
used properly.
The capacity of a generator is usually stated in watts.
For example, you may have a 2,000-watt generator. This is
the same as a 2-kilowatt (K.W.) generator, because 1,000
watts is equal to 1 K.W.
Watts is an electrical term determined by multiplying
volts times amps. For example, if an appliance requires
120 volts and uses 10 amps, this appliance requires 1,200
watts. This information is on the nameplate of the appliance. By this formula, you can determine what you can run
on your generator. For example, an appliance that requires
1,200 watts and one requiring 600 watts could be run on
a 2,000-watt generator. However, appliances with motors
require more current to start than they do after they are
running. A suggestion is to start a refrigerator, allow it to
begin running and then plug in another appliance.
Generator Tips
• Gasoline engines produce carbon monoxide. Don’t
run them in an enclosed area.
• Check the oil level in the engine before using and on
a regular basis (for example when refueling). • Let the engine cool off before refueling. • The generator should be kept a safe distance from
structures because of engine heat. • Place the generator on a level surface to keep oil at
proper level in engine. • Water will damage generators as well as produce an
electrical hazard, so keep the generator dry. • A voltage drop may occur if too long an extension
cord is connected to the appliance or if one with
too small a wire size is used. If the extension cord
becomes very warm, it is inadequate.
• Connect the generator directly to the appliance.
• You should not try to hook generators to your electrical supply box.
• Ground the generator as stated in the instructions.
If you use an extension cord, use one with a ground
plug. • Have the generator running before the A.C. circuit
on the generator is turned on or before you plug in
the appliance.
• An appliance that has a heating element, such as a
toaster or hair dryer, consumes a large amount of
current. It’s best to avoid using these types of items.
• If an appliance has gotten wet or damaged, it may
not be in good working order. Using the appliance
may damage the generator.
• Some generators have the ability to produce 115/120
volts or 220 volts. Select the outlet that corresponds
to the voltage requirement of the appliance.
Natural Hazards Series: Recovery - Part 2
Play it Safe With Food
Preparing for a Power Outage
After a disaster, electrical power may be disrupted for
hours, sometimes days. There are things you can do to
prepare for an outage which may extend the life of foods in
your refrigerator or freezer.
• Keep an appliance thermometer in the refrigerator and
freezer. An appliance thermometer will indicate the
temperature in the refrigerator and freezer in case of a
power outage and help determine the safety of the food.
• Make sure the freezer is at or below 0° F and the refrigerator is at or below 40° F.
• Freeze containers (such as milk cartons) of water for
ice to help keep food cold in the freezer, refrigerator or
coolers after the power is out.
• Freeze refrigerated items such as leftovers, milk and
fresh meat and poultry that you may not need immediately. This helps keep them at a safe temperature longer.
• Group food together in the freezer. This helps the food
stay cold longer.
• Separate raw meat and poultry items from other foods. Place them on the bottom shelf. If raw meat and poultry
begin to thaw, this will prevent their juices from getting
onto other foods. • Plan ahead and know where dry ice and block ice can be
• Have coolers on hand to keep refrigerator food cold if
the power will be out for more than four hours. Purchase or make ice cubes and store in the freezer for use
in the refrigerator or in a cooler. Freeze gel packs ahead
of time for use in coolers.
During Power Outage
Following these steps will help keep food safe during
power outages or when the freezer or refrigerator is not
• Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much
as possible to maintain the low temperature.
• The refrigerator will keep food safely cold for about
four hours if it is unopened. A full freezer will hold the
temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is
half-full and the door remains closed.)
• Obtain dry or block ice to keep your refrigerator and
freezer as cold as possible if the power is going to be
out for a prolonged period of time. Fifty pounds of
dry ice should hold an 18-cubic-foot full freezer for
two days. CAUTION: Never touch dry ice with your
bare hands or breathe the fumes. Place the dry ice on
cardboard or on empty shelves in the freezer around the
items to be kept frozen.
• Cook and eat any raw meat, fish or poultry products
stored in the refrigerator by the second day of the power
failure on an outdoor charcoal or gas grill. Natural Hazards Series: Recovery - Part 2
After a Power Outage
There are certain precautions you should take before
you begin using food from refrigerators and freezers that
have been off for more than a few hours.
• Never taste a food to determine its safety!
• Food may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice
crystals or is at 40° F or below. Check the temperature
of the freezer with an appliance thermometer or food
thermometer. If the food still contains ice crystals or is
at 40° F or below, the food is safe.
• If a thermometer has not been kept in the freezer, check
each package of food to determine its safety. If the food
still contains ice crystals, the food is safe.
• Raw meats and poultry, cheese, juices, breads and
pastries can be refrozen without losing a lot of quality. Prepared foods, fish, vegetables and fruits can be
refrozen safely, but quality may suffer. Mark these to be
used as soon as possible.
• Food that contains ice crystals or is at 40° F or below
may also be cooked and served or frozen after cooking.
• Remember that seafood will be among the first to thaw
and will need attention first. Also, ground meat is likely
to spoil before other meats.
• Food that was held above 40° F for more than two hours
generally should be discarded because bacteria may
multiply to unsafe levels under these conditions. The
only foods that can be refrozen under these conditions
are well-wrapped hard and processed cheeses, butter
and margarine, breads and pastries without custard
fillings, fruits and fruit juices that look and smell
• Vegetables held above 40° F for less than six hours may
be refrozen, but with quality loss. Pecans and other nuts
may be refrozen safely but may suffer quality loss.
When the refrigerator is operating again, use these
guidelines to decide what to do with foods that were stored
in the refrigerator:
• Discard refrigerated perishable food such as meat,
poultry, fish, soft cheeses, milk, eggs, leftovers and deli
items after four hours without power.
• Condiments such as ketchup, mustard, pickles, relishes,
picante sauce, vinegar-based salad dressings, Worcestershire sauce and steak sauces should be fine. Discard
opened mayonnaise, tartar sauce, and horseradish if
above 50° F for over eight hours. Jams, jellies, preserves and syrups are all right because sugar serves as a
preservative. Check for mold growth.
• Hard cheese will be OK, and if the temperature hasn’t
gotten too warm inside the refrigerator, blocks or slices
of processed cheese can also be used. Well-wrapped
butter and margarine can usually be kept as long as they
do not melt, but should be discarded if rancid odors
develop. Keep unopened packages of cream cheese, but
discard if they are moldy when opened.
• Fresh fruits and vegetables are safe as long as they’re
still firm and there’s no evidence of mold, a yeasty
smell or sliminess. Juices are safe as long as there’s
no evidence of mold growth and they look and smell
acceptable. Cut fruit should be discarded if above 40° F
for more than 2 hours.
• Pecans, other nuts, peanuts and peanut butter also are
How to Cook
When the
Power Goes Off
After a disaster has knocked out electricity or
gas lines, cooking meals can be a problem and can
be hazardous if a few basic rules are not followed.
Charcoal or gas grills are the most obvious
alternative sources of heat for cooking. Never use
them indoors. In doing so, you risk both asphyxiation from carbon monoxide and the chance of
starting a fire that could destroy your home.
• Camp stoves that use liquid or solid fuel should
always be used outdoors.
• Use small electrical appliances to prepare meals
if you have access to an electrical generator and
the generator has sufficient capacity. Do not use
an appliance that has been flooded until it has
been checked for shorted circuitry.
• You can use wood for cooking in many situations. You can cook in a fireplace if the chimney
is sound.
• If you have to build a fire outside, build it away
from buildings, never in a carport. Sparks can
easily get into the ceiling and start a house fire.
• Never use gasoline to get a wood or charcoal fire
• Do not use “treated” wood as fuel for a cooking
• Make sure any fire is well contained. A metal
drum or stones around the fire bed are good
precautions. A charcoal grill is a good place in
which to build a wood fire. Be sure to put out
any fire when you are through with it.
• When cooking is not possible, some canned food
can be eaten cold. Or it can be warmed over
canned heat or candles. • Never leave any open fire, canned heat or candle
unattended. Keep children away at all times.
Removing Odors
from Refrigerator and Freezer
If food has thawed in your refrigerator or freezer, you
are probably facing an odor problem that hangs on even
after the spoiled food is gone. Getting rid of this odor is
likely to take time, patience and a combination of techniques.
If the refrigerator has been flooded it should be replaced.
Empty, Clean and Disinfect
• Remove all food, unplug appliance and take out all removable parts. Empty the defrost water disposal pan (if
it has one).
• Wash each part thoroughly with hot water and detergent. Rinse with a disinfectant solution (1 teaspoon chlorine
bleach for each gallon of water).
• Wash the inside, including doors and gaskets, with a
solution of hot water and baking soda. Rinse with disinfectant solution.
• Do not mix ammonia and chlorine solutions! This combination gives off toxic fumes.
Note: If garbage pickup is not expected soon, take
spoiled foods off site to help avoid attracting animals,
insects and to reduce odors.
Air it Out
Leave the door open for at least 15 minutes to air out.
If you had a long power outage, this probably won’t be
If odor remains, repeatedly heat and ventilate the
inside walls. Warm the
inside walls with a portable
convection heater (one that
blows warm air), hair dryer
or hot air popcorn popper.
Do not use a heat source
that can cause damage,
and do not leave the heater
Then turn off the heat and ventilate with a portable fan
until the inside walls are cool.
Repeat this process for several hours or until the odor
is almost gone.
If some odor remains, activated charcoal filters or a
tray of loose activated carbon will absorb persistent odors.
Look for it at drugstores, appliance service companies,
hardware stores or pet stores.
If you can’t find activated carbon, you can use crushed
charcoal (the kind used for barbecue grills), but it will not
be as effective. Spread about 3 ounces of the fine powdered charcoal on a sheet of aluminum foil or in a shallow
pan, and place on the refrigerator or freezer shelf.
Natural Hazards Series: Recovery - Part 2
If possible, run your freezer with nothing but the carbon in it for a couple of days.
After 6 or 8 hours, heat the pan of loose charcoal in a
moderate (350 degrees F) oven to reactivate the carbon so
it can be reused. Cool the charcoal and put it back in the
appliance. Repeat the process until the odor disappears.
Large servicing companies may recommend chemical
deodorizers that are stronger than charcoal and last several
months. Foods must be covered if such chemicals are used.
Store Food in Sealed Containers
or Wrappings
Keep boxes or bowls of baking soda in the refrigerator.
Even if traces of the odor remain, sealed food will not be
Refrigerate and freeze all food in sealed containers or
secured freezer wrappings. When you take out a package,
remove wrappings as soon as possible, and dispose of them
If Nothing Works
If all these efforts don’t seem to help much, there may
have been seepage into the walls of the freezer or refrigerator. If the insulation has gotten wet, the appliance may
have to be discarded eventually because it may not only
have persistent bad odors, but may also run continuously
or frost up on the outside because of the ruined insulation.
In some cases, it may be feasible to replace the wet insulation, but for most, a new energy-efficient refrigerator or
freezer may be more cost effective.
Power Outage in Winter
With so many people accustomed to heating with electrical energy, the loss of power in winter presents problems
of staying warm and keeping the household plumbing
from freezing. The principal alternative heat source is fire,
which must be used safely and with caution, or it, too,
becomes a hazard.
If you have suffered a power outage in severely cold
weather, your alternative heat probably will not be adequate to heat the entire dwelling. If the temperature will
be very low for an extended period, it may be advisable to
Natural Hazards Series: Recovery - Part 2
drain interior water pipes that would have been kept from
freezing by the household heat.
Keeping Yourself Warm
• Dress in layers of loose, light-weight,
warm clothing.
• Eat and drink adequately. Food provides the body with energy and heat.
Fluids prevent dehydration.
• Avoid alcoholic drinks. Although they make you feel
warmer, they actually make you more susceptible to
• Don’t ignore the signs of hypothermia. If you’re shivering uncontrollably, stumbling around, having trouble
talking, and feeling drowsy and exhausted, get help.
Heating the Living Space
• Heat only the area you are staying in; close off rooms
you’re not using. If you’re using a fuel-burning space
heater that isn’t vented to the outdoors through a pipe
or chimney, provide proper ventilation. Open a window
slightly, and leave the door to the room open. Be sure to
use the proper fuel for the heater.
• Use only seasoned (dry) hardwoods in the fireplace.
Make sure the damper is open as long as any embers are
smoldering; close it when the fireplace is not in use to
keep hot air from escaping up the chimney.
• Never use stoves, crawfish boilers, ovens or other cooking appliances for home heating. These can produce a
lot of carbon monoxide. Since they’re not designed for
continuous operation, using them for heating may also
create a fire hazard.
• Use window drapes to insulate windows at night and
open to let sunshine in in the daytime.
• Don’t let children play around heaters. They may get
burned or topple the heater.
• Keep flammable materials at least 3 feet from heaters.
• Keep a fire extinguisher handy.
For more information, contact your local LSU
AgCenter office listed under local government in the telephone directory. 13
Storm-Damaged Buildings
Natural Hazards Series: Recovery - Part 3
As soon as authorities or
conditions allow you to return, it’s time to assess the damage
and begin repairs. A number of factors should be considered, and the following information may be helpful.
Damage to Structures
Damage to structures in many cases is obvious, but
damage that is not clearly seen may cause problems also.
Look for wood structural members that are cracked,
and remember these can be hard to detect. Structural bracing may not be secured as tightly as originally. If doors
or windows do not open as they did before the storm, this
may indicate the structure has shifted. In case of severe
shifting, water lines, gas lines and electrical circuits may
have been damaged.
If wetness occurred because of leaking roofs, look
for wet electrical circuits, wet insulation and other water
damage to the interior of the structure. Once insulation
becomes wet in a wall or attic, it must be replaced. Wall
insulation that is sealed within the structure will not dry
out soon enough.
Structures that use a roof truss system should be
carefully inspected. In many cases, truss systems are
constructed of 2 x 4s and metal fasteners. Any crack or
break in the truss will greatly affect the strength of the
truss system.
Repair or Replace?
Damaged structures can be our homes, equipment
storage buildings, barns and other outbuildings. Care and
consideration should be given to their restoration. Appropriate measures vary with the type, age and condition
of the structure. Often, the structure should be removed
rather than rebuilt. The structural integrity of the building
should be assessed, and if the decision is made to repair,
additional bracing may be required before repairs begin.
Repair of damaged buildings requires a building permit if it involves more than painting or replacing carpet. Check with your local building official or permit office
before beginning or contracting for repairs.
Checking Outside for Structural Damage
• Make sure the building is not in danger of collapsing.
Look for bulges, sways, leaning walls and sagging roof
• Check the roof. The roof is a very good indicator of
the presence of structural damage. Look at the ridge of
the roof, and assess whether it is straight. This can be
viewed from a distance better than close up. If the ridge
sags either on the end or in the middle, the load-bearing
walls have shifted.
• Check the walls to verify that they are vertical and
straight. This normally can be done by eye or with a
carpenter’s level.
• Check where the structure meets its foundation. If the
house is on piers, look at the individual piers and see
that they remain in plane and level. Whether it is on a
slab or on piers, check to see that the building has not
shifted on its foundation. Flooded wooden floors, if they
do not buckle, will sometimes push walls outward at the
• Check for cracks in masonry. Look near the corners of
the structures and under and around doors and windows.
If any of these indicators of structural damage are
observed, it is advisable to call a licensed building contractor, inspector or engineer. A professional needs to further
assess the building for its safety and determine the required
repairs. These indicators should be pointed out to insurance adjusters.
Entering the Building
• Turn off any outside gas lines at the meter or tank,
and let the house air for several minutes to remove
foul odors or escaping gas.
• Turn off the main electrical breaker until safe
conditions are established. If the main disconnect
is inside the house, it would be wise to call your
utility company for assistance. Even if power is out
in your neighborhood, disconnect the main switch,
fuse or circuit breaker at your home, and disconnect all circuits. Unplug all appliances that have
been flooded.
• Enter cautiously. Do not smoke. Don’t use a flame
as a light source.
• Check for sagging ceilings; wet insulation and
pocketed water can cause ceilings to fall.
Turning off the Electricity
• Stand on a dry spot when working with electrical boxes
and panels.
• If you have to step in water to get to the circuit or fuse
box, call an electrician; do not try to turn off the power
• Use a dry stick to open panel doors and throw switches
whenever possible. Use caution when removing fuses
(can’t be done with a stick).
Natural Hazards Series: Recovery - Part 3
Preliminary Repairs
Any temporary structural repairs that can be made will
require some creativity since there’s likely to be a shortage
of materials. The most common repairs will involve nailing
plywood or taping heavy plastic to broken windows, ceiling and walls.
If the building has shifted or the floors have settled
badly, it may be necessary to install temporary bracing until extensive work can be done. To prevent flooded wooden
floors from buckling and warping further, remove a board
every few feet.
Cover damaged roof sections with heavy plastic or
roofing felt anchored in place with wooden boards to help
prevent leaks until permanent repairs can be made. Be
especially cautious; damaged roofing can be loose or slippery.
Inside, remove any mud and debris while it is still
Flooding may require replacement of outlets, breakers,
wiring and controls. •
Dry Well to Prevent Decay
Mold is likely to grow on wood and other materials
that stay wet for more than 2-3 days, but mold does not
penetrate or break down solid wood. However, if untreated
wood stays wet for (weeks or months, decay fungi can
grow and break down its cell structure, causing wood rot
and loss of its structural strength. Wetness can damage
many other materials, too – even steel. That is why it is
crucial to not only clean and remove mold, but also speed
the drying process and postpone restoration until all materials are dry and wood framing has a moisture content
under 20%.
• Read “Be Safe” section on Avoiding Mold
• Wear a dust mask, goggles and protective clothing
on legs, arms, feet and hands while cleaning up
debris. When handling moldy or contaminated
material, wear a respirator rated N-95 or higher. • Wear rubber gloves while using cleaners and
disinfectants. • Buildings constructed in the ’70s and earlier may
have lead-based paint. Sanding or scraping this
paint creates a serious health hazard. Before
working with suspected lead-based paint, get more
information from
If you see or smell mold in a storm damaged home, refer to part 1 of this book for “Mold Removal Guidelines”. Whether or not you find mold, act quickly to dry out your
storm or flood damaged home:
• Remove wet carpets, pads, rugs, upholstery and fabrics
as soon as possible. Carpets wet from leaks may be
Natural Hazards Series: Recovery - Part 3
cleaned, dried and restretched during installation. Carpets that were flooded with contaminated water should
be discarded. You may be able to clean, disinfect and restore valuable rugs, but always replace wet carpet pads.
Remove flooded vinyl sheet flooring, laminate flooring
and other floorings with paper or other moisture sensitive components.
For solid wood floors, carefully remove a plank every
few feet to reduce buckling. Wood floors often reshrink
back to normal when dry and need only refinishing
instead of replacement. This may take several weeks.
Open closet and cabinet doors, remove drawers and
contents and use fans to aid air circulation for drying. If
cabinets are installed on insulated walls, they may need
to be removed.
Remove loose or crumbly plaster, drywall and wet ceiling tiles. Plaster and drywall can survive flooding if
it can dry out and be cleaned or sanitized. Remove all
vinyl wallpaper and any thick built-up layers of interior
paint to allow walls to dry toward the interior.
Discard all wet or moldy fibrous insulation, even if it
means cutting into walls or removing drywall above the
level of moisture that wicked up beyond the flood level. Wet fibrous insulation will not dry out adequately when
left in place.
Paneled walls should be removed or propped open at the
bottom to remove wet insulation, then clean and treat
the framing. If dirty or moldy, wash empty wall cavities and subfloor
or slab with a non-phosphate detergent solution and
rinse with clean water. To kill any fungi that may remain after cleaning, you may spray flooded wall cavities
and slabs with a solution such as ½-1 cup fresh bleach
per gallon of water or other disinfectant. Protect wiring
and other metals from bleach spray since it is corrosive.
Flooded wiring should be replaced. Check with your
building permit office to see if wiring wet from leaks
can be salvaged.
Continuously air condition or heat the space and use
fans until materials are dry. Also using a dehumidifier
will speed drying and is highly recommended to avoid
mold growth during the dryout process.
Do not replace the insulation and drywall or paneling
until the studs, sill plates, sheathing and any interior
paneling are dry (under 20% moisture content). Without the benefit of a dehumidifier, this could take weeks.
Do not use sealants, vinyl wallpaper or other materials
on the interior side of walls. In air conditioned homes,
walls must be able to dry through materials toward the
inside. Use only latex paint on new drywall.
Do More than Restore
Once it is dry, instead of just restoring your home,
improve it. A silver lining of storm damage is the opportunity to make your home better than before. Make it more
energy-efficient to increase comfort and lower utility costs.
Make it more durable to avoid so much damage and ordeal
after future storms.
• Apply a penetrating borate treatment to the bottom two
feet of wood framing to provide termite and decay protection.
• Caulk to seal the gap between sill plates and a slab
foundation, a major source of air leakage.
• Seal holes and penetrations in framing with expanding
foam sealant.
• Replace damaged outlet boxes, recessed can lights and
other fixtures with “air-tight” types.
• Replace damaged windows, appliances and equipment
with Energy Star labeled types.
• Replace damaged doors with insulated doors (fiberglass
or steel skin).
• Consider upgrading to impact resistant windows and
doors in high-wind zones.
• Before installing new windows or doors, make sure
openings are well flashed to drain water leaks to the
• Insulate wall cavities for higher R-value and better
coverage than before, from R-13-19. Consider spray cellulose with borates, spray foam or high-density friction
fit fiberglass batts in non-flood hazard areas, and closed
cell spray foam or rigid foam sheathing in areas at risk
of flooding.
• Raised wood floor systems may be less vulnerable to
moisture problems with insulation methods that both
insulate and protect floor joists from moisture; consider
min. R-12 spray foam or foil-faced rigid foam with
taped seams.
• Choose more flood-resistant wall and floor materials. Consider removable wainscoting, paperless drywall,
ceramic tile, decorative concrete, solid wood and other
restorable options.
• If replacing all your drywall or ceilings, use gaskets or
drywall adhesive to seal the drywall to framing at top
and bottom plates and around openings – the “Airtight
Drywall Approach”
Flooding and
Damage-causing Pests
The severity of a pest problem following a storm or
flood depends on the time of year and where, in the seasonal cycle of the pest, the disaster occurs.
Flooding may leach some termiticides from treated soil or materials. If the treated soil is eroded,
the termiticide will be removed with it. If soil
is deposited along the foundation of a house,
it will provide a bridge for termites to go around
the treated soil. Eliminate all sources of water and
wood-to-soil contact. These conditions are conducive
to termite infestations. Any damage to foundations or footing can result in termite infestations. Termites can enter
buildings through cracks only 1/32-inch wide.
Wood debris of any kind will attract termites. Termites
are extremely important in recycling wood. Wood is composed of cellulose, and few organisms can break it down.
We want termites to recycle wood, but we don’t want them
recycling our homes.
Get the house inspected within six months after a
major flood. Contact your pest control company before
disturbing the soil around the foundation or installing a
drainage system around a home. Your actions may void
your termite contract.
Don’t be pressured into getting ANY pest control
treatments done quickly if you are unsure of what you are
being told. When in doubt, contact the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry - Structural Pest Control
Special considerations for Formosan subterranean
termites and wood-attacking insects and fungi: When a
structure is built or wood is replaced, there is a one-time
opportunity to manage termites and other wood-attacking insects and fungi. Use pressure-treated wood (borates,
ACQ or CA) or termite-resistant materials because these
organisms cannot eat or decay them. Wood subflooring and
wall framing that is not replaced and wood products that
are not available with pressure treatment should be sprayed
with a penetrating borate solution for additional protection
from these pests.
Go to and search for termites to
get additional information on integrated pest management
of termites. Do not move any wood, paper or their products
without having them inspected for Formosan subterranean
termites or fumigating them. Movement of such items may
spread this devastating perennial pest. Quarantines on the
movement of such items are in place following hurricanes
Katrina and Rita.
Boring Insects and Fungi
Moisture problems in a crawlspace can lead to other
problems, such as wood-boring beetles and wood-decaying fungi in floor joists. Wood-decaying fungi will not
grow below 20% wood moisture content, however, and the
likelihood of problems with powderpost beetles and old
house borers decreases as the wood moisture decreases to
14% or less. Do not replace floor insulation until wood is
dry. Be sure rain water drains away from the house and
that the soil level under the house is higher than around
the house. Cover the soil in an enclosed crawl space with
plastic sheeting.
Natural Hazards Series: Recovery - Part 3
Repairing the Roof
After a Storm
Under the multiple pressures of
shortages of time and finding skilled
or reputable workers, materials, etc.,
it may be tempting to take short cuts
on roof repairs, but remember that a depreciated home and
future expensive trouble can come with such a decision.
Repairs now, while the damage is clearly linked to the
storm, may be covered by insurance or other assistance.
Later, when problems reappear, you may bear those repair
costs alone.
When considering roof repair, assess the condition of
the roofing materials. If your shingles are not new, you
may want to replace the roof rather than patch it, and make
it more resistant to damage in further events.
at several points. A scab should run approximately 4 ft. on
each side of the break. A scab can be used to repair a truss
rafter. In a truss, the scab must cover the broken rafter element and the points where that element is attached to other
elements. The size of wood used for repairs should be the
same size as the wood broken or larger (but never smaller).
Broken or severely damaged rafters are seldom
as strong after repairs. Further strengthening may be
achieved by adding support braces between the rafter(s)
and the ceiling joist(s) below. Run two braces from each
repaired rafter: one from the rafter scab to the point on
the joist where it crosses a load-bearing wall and one to
the joist below (see diagram). If the attachment point for
a brace is not over a load-bearing wall, the joist should
be reinforced with a “strongback.” The strongback is
constructed of one 2x4 and one 2x6 plank nailed together
at right angles; it is nailed to the ceiling joist and extends
across several joists on both sides of the damaged area.
A Word of Caution
Before getting on the roof to do repairs, inspect
the rafters for breaks and sags. • Remember that electrical wiring is run through
the attic; be sure the power is off before entering
the attic space for the first time.
• Even without a disaster, the attic can be a
dangerous place. Nail tips are left exposed and
there can be numerous rough edges which could
cause injury.
• When you do get on the roof, be very careful. The slope of the roof is a hazard and a damaged
roof may have loose shingles, exposed nails or
other features which could lead to injury. When
working on steep inclines, use a safety harness.
2” x 6”
2” x 6”
2” x 6”
2” x 6”
2” x 4”
A common roof consists of three layers of materials:
sheathing (or decking), roofing felt and an outer layer of
shingles, metal panels or tiles. Sheathing is nailed to rafters before the felt and roofing are applied. The felt is the
layer which waterproofs the roof; it is important to overlap
the layers properly so water runs over a lower course, not
under it. Shingles, tiles or panels protect the felt from
physical damage but don’t really seal the structure against
If you have broken rafters or ridge beams, they must
be repaired first. The size of the area damaged dictates
proper procedures. One or two broken rafters can be repaired by using a scab-and-prop method. If three or more
adjacent rafters are broken, it is advisable to replace them. Replacing rafters may require removal of undamaged
shingles, felt and sheathing along the length of the rafter to
be replaced.
Check with the local permit office to find out what
inspection or permitting requirements or building codes
must be met.
To repair a broken rafter using a scab method, place a
new rafter alongside the broken one and nail them together
Natural Hazards Series: Recovery - Part 3
If you have limited damage to the roof decking that
can be repaired without total removal, replace damaged
sheathing with panels of the same thickness as that used on
the rest of the roof. Attach the new sheathing and re-nail
the existing sheathing to all rafters or trusses with 8d ring
shank nails spaced every 6 inches.
If you replace all the sheathing, strengthen your roof
by using 40/20 rated roof deck sheathing (plywood or
OSB) with a minimum thickness of 19/32 inches and a
nailing pattern of 8d ring shank nails every 4 inches on all
panels along a gable end, and 6 inches apart everywhere
else. Make sure joints are placed over rafters and nails
don’t miss the rafters. Do not use staples.
6” spacing in
4” spacing in
shaded panels
Nail spacing recommendations
for plywood or OSB roof deck.
Roof Underlayment and Coverings
Consider sealing roof-sheathing joints with a selfadhered asphalt/rubber tape (modified bitumen) at least 4
inches wide to provide a secondary moisture barrier. An
alternative that offers even greater protection is to apply a
peel-and-stick roof membrane over the entire roof deck in
place of joint tape and roofing felt.
Otherwise, roofing underlayment may consist of
either a single layer of #30 felt with a minimum 2-inch
overlap, or two layers of 15# felt installed in accordance
with manufacturer’s instructions. Both methods require a
minimum 6-inch lap at ends. Flashings must be installed to
maintain a shingle-type layering with the underlayment so
water flows over and not under them.
Select a high wind rated roof covering (shingles, metal, etc.) and, regardless of type, ensure that it is installed
in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations
for high wind regions. Look for roofing that meets the
standards: ASTM D 3161 enhanced, or UL 2390 for wind
resistance and UL 2218 for impact resistance.
Strengthen Weak Points
Soffits and Gable Ends
Soffits in hurricane-affected areas tend to fail allowing
wind driven rain into the attic. Vinyl and metal soffits that
rest in slots or t-channels are most vulnerable. Consider using plywood or fiber cement soffits securely anchored to
wood framing members or wind rated soffit systems.
Hip roofs are more wind resistant than gable roofs. For
homes with gable roofs, bracing should be installed in the
attic to resist the damaging force of strong winds on gable
end walls. For more details on bracing gable walls and
other protections, visit
Opening Protections
When wind-borne debris breaks windows or doors,
the inside air pressure buildup can cause major structural
damage. To avoid the rush to board up during each storm
warning, consider replacing windows and doors with
hurricane rated units or installing impact resistant shutters. Standard double-wide garage doors are especially
vulnerable to wind damage. Look for products that have
met recognized product approval systems such as SBCCI
SSTD 12, ASTM E 1186 and ASTM E 1996, or MiamiDade Protocols PA 201, PA 202 and PA 203.
Roof to Wall to Foundation Connections
Your home is as strong as its weakest link. To make
sure the roof stays in place during a severe storm, anchor
the roof to the wall with hurricane straps over each rafter
(if sheathing is removed), or if that’s not feasible, with hurricane clips at every wall-to-rafter connection. If the walls
are opened for repair, consider also adding metal hurricane
connectors that tie the studs to the bottom plate, and the
bottom plate to the foundation (such as epoxy-set anchor
bolts into the slab).
Typical Wall Connections:
Stud spacing different
from truss/rafter spacing.
Gable Roof
Hipped Roof
For more information on disaster-resistant building
techniques and systems, get the La. Extension publication, Building Your Louisiana Home: Homeowners
Guide through your parish LSU AgCenter office or from
If you have experienced structural damage, some
strengthening of the roof may be required under uniform
building codes. It is likely you’ll need to engage one or
more contractors to make repairs. Information on selecting
a contractor, what should be in a contract and consumer
protection is given in Part 6, “Financial Recovery and Risk
Contact your local LSU AgCenter office listed under
local government in the telephone directory or www.
Natural Hazards Series: Recovery - Part 3
Water-damaged Belongings
Natural Hazards Series: Recovery - Part 4
Caring for Large Electrical
Appliances wet by flood
water or by rainwater after
roofs were damaged will need
extreme care before reuse. This
care will be important if the
life of the appliance is to be
extended and for the safety of
the user.
Appliances submerged by floodwaters, particularly
saltwater, are often not repairable. Appliances that have
been wet by rainwater and not flooded are often repairable. It is always desirable to have these repairs made by
a reputable service person. Following disasters, however,
individuals who have these skills often are very busy, and
the owner of the appliance may find it necessary to make
Remember that an appliance damaged by water can
sometimes be made functional, but will probably have
a shortened life expectancy. Depending on the age and
condition of the appliance before it was damaged by water,
and considering the danger of personal injury from improper repairs, it may be advisable to replace the appliance
rather than repair it.
Many small appliances, including television sets,
microwave ovens and radios, are more electronic than
electrical. The tips offered in this fact sheet do not apply
to electronic repairs. Most small appliances or electronic
devices are not economical to repair.
• Approach a flooded or wetted appliance with caution. Water can short-circuit an electrical appliance
so that parts which don’t normally conduct electricity can shock you.
• Disconnect power to the building or to the circuit
which feeds the suspected appliance. Then unplug
the appliance. If the power to the building or
neighborhood has been shut off, be sure all appliances suspected to have water damage have been
unplugged before power is restored.
• If you are uncertain whether an appliance has been damaged by water, do not test it by plugging it in
and/or turning it on. Either treat it as damaged or
have a knowledgeable individual check for electrical shorts to assure that it is safe to use.
Natural Hazards Series: Recovery - Part 4
Motor and Circuit Repairs
• Disconnect all switches, contacts, motors and electrical
wiring. Make a diagram of the connections, or list the
steps you took to disconnect these items; this will help
you remember how to reassemble the parts.
• Flush all parts of the system with clean water, and allow
the parts to dry for several days before reconnecting.
• Use spray-on drying agents to help in the displacement
of moisture in contacts, motors and so forth.
• Re-assemble the disconnected parts referring to your
diagram or list of steps.
• Be sure the appliance is dry and properly grounded
before reconnecting.
Insulation and Mechanical Components
Appliances that are insulated such as ranges, ovens,
freezers, refrigerators and water heaters may need to have
wet insulation removed and replaced.
• Remove insulation by opening the frame of the appliance; consult your owner’s manual for construction
details. Use gloves when removing the insulation. Clean
the cavity before installing new insulating material. • On appliances where insulation cannot be removed,
replace the appliance.
• Newer freezers and refrigerators include rigid foam
insulation that may not require removal. • Remember to check the mechanical parts of the electric
appliance. Such things as the bearings, hinges on doors
and other moving parts should be dried and lubricated to
prevent rust.
Preventing Damage from Future Floods
If the appliance was damaged by floodwaters which
were less than 2-feet deep, you can help prevent future
damage by installing the repaired or replacement appliance
on a platform. • Consider elevating the electrical system itself. Install all
electrical switches and outlets 12 inches above either the
100-year flood level or the level of the highest known
flood at your location - whichever is higher.
• Check with the local permit office to see what permits
are required for any physical alteration of the location
of your appliances or for modification of the electrical
wiring in your building.
Salvaging and Cleaning Furniture
Before starting to salvage damaged
furniture, decide which pieces are
worth restoring. Such decisions should
be based on: extent of damage, cost of
the article, sentimental value, cost of
restoration and quality of the wood or
fabric. Consider each piece individually.
Restore or Replace?
Antiques are probably worth the time, effort and
expense of restoration. Unless damage is severe, you can
probably clean, reglue and refinish antiques at home.
Extensive repair or re-veneering work should be done at a
reliable furniture repair shop.
Solid wood furniture
Solid wood furniture can usually be restored unless
damage is severe. You will probably need to clean, dry and
reglue it. Do not throw away solid wood furniture until it has dried and repair efforts can be assessed. Slightly
warped boards may be removed and straightened or replaced. Wood veneered furniture
Wood veneered furniture is usually not worth the cost
and effort of repair, unless it is very valuable monetarily or
sentimentally. If veneer is loose in just a few places, you
may be able to repair it. Veneered furniture repairs are usually best done by a reliable refinisher.
Upholstered furniture
Wet upholstered furniture may be salvageable, depending on its general condition. Flooded pieces will require replacement of padding and upholstery. Since this is an
expensive process, it might be wiser to apply the money
toward a new piece of furniture.
You will not need to repair all pieces immediately. Any
furniture worthy of repair should be completely cleaned,
dried and stored in a dry, shady, well-ventilated place until
you have time to repair it. Wooden furniture damaged
by floods can best be salvaged through slow drying and
proper repair.
First Steps to Restoration
Submerged or wet wooden furniture
Take furniture outdoors, and remove as many drawers,
slides and removable parts as possible. Drawers and doors
will probably be stuck tight. Do not try to force them out
from the front. With a screwdriver or chisel, remove the
back and push out the drawer from behind.
After you have removed movable parts, clean off mud
and dirt, using a hose if necessary.
Take all furniture indoors and store it where it will dry
slowly. Furniture left in the sunlight to dry will warp and
twist out of shape.
When furniture is dry, reglue it if necessary. You will
need equipment and clamps to reglue some pieces. Before
you start, decide whether you have the time, equipment
and ability to do the work. Consult an experienced carpenter if necessary. Many books are available on the subject.
To reglue loose joints or rungs, cut or scrape off old
glue so the area will be as clean and free of glue as possible. Use a white all-purpose glue, following directions on
container. Hold parts together with rubber rope tourniquets
or C-clamps. To prevent damage from ropes or clamps, pad
these areas with cloth.
Damp furniture - removing white spots
White spots or a cloudy film may develop on damp
furniture that has not been submerged.
If the entire surface is affected, rub with a damp cloth
dipped in (a) turpentine or camphorated oil or (b) in a
solution of 1/2 cup household ammonia and 1/2 cup water.
Wipe dry at once and polish with wax or furniture polish.
If color is not restored, dip 3/0 steel wool in oil (boiled
linseed, olive, mineral or lemon). Rub lightly with the
wood grain. Wipe with a soft cloth and re-wax.
For deep spots, use a drop or two of ammonia on a
damp cloth. Rub at once with a dry cloth. Polish. Rubbing
cigarette ashes, powered pumice or a piece of walnut into
spots may also help remove them. Be sure to wear rubber
gloves when using these solutions.
If spots remain after all efforts to remove them, the
piece should be refinished.
Cleaning Tips
• Always wear rubber gloves when using cleaning
solutions or working with flood-damaged or moldy
furniture. Take furniture outdoors to clean.
• If mildew has developed, vacuum (preferably with an
HEPA filter) surface or brush off with a broom.
• Read fiber content labels of upholstery. Test a hidden area using a solution of lukewarm soapy water (1
tablespoon soap to 1 quart water), or dilute denatured
alcohol (1/2 alcohol and 1/2 water) or bleach solution
(1 tablespoon bleach to a pint of water) to see if color is
removed or fabric shrinks. Allow to dry, then decide if
the fabric can be cleaned. Sponge fabric to remove dirt,
and use bleach or alcohol solution to remove mildew.
Fabric may be removed from frame to clean, depending
on the damage.
• Remove tacks, nails, braid, other fasteners. • Although wet synthetic foam padding can be restored,
the risk of contamination and costs usually make replacement a better option. Wet cotton or other organic
padding should always be replaced.
• Wipe down wooden frames
with a wood cleaner or alcohol solution remove mold or
mildew. Wipe dry and allow to
air dry in an open shady place
(never dry furniture in direct
Natural Hazards Series: Recovery - Part 4
• Dry springs and other metal parts. If rust has formed,
you may need to replace or clean. Use steel wool and
coat with paint. A light oil could be wiped on metal
parts to help prevent later rusting. Many major manufacturers keep records of fabric or metal parts which can be
ordered from the dealer for replacement.
• Be sure all parts are dry before reassembling.
• A reliable furniture repair shop will give estimates on
cost of redoing furniture. Also, consider replacement
cost and value of each piece. If insurance allows part
value on flood-damaged furniture, it may be financially
worthwhile to apply the money to new articles, rather
than pay for extensive repairs.
Cleaning Carpets and Floors
Cleaning water-soaked carpets and floors is difficult in
itself, but in the aftermath of a storm or flood, contamination by mud, silt, sewage and mildew can compound the
It’s best to replace carpets and get professional cleaners to work on floors, but this may not be possible. In any
case, begin cleanup as soon as possible.
• Pull up all saturated carpets and rugs, and take them
• If you wish to salvage valuable rugs and water was not
contaminated, hose muddy carpets down. Work a lowsudsing, disinfectant carpet cleaning product deep into
soiled spots with a broom.
• If only small areas of carpet got wet from leaks, pull up
and prop the wet carpet to dry. Cut away wet padding.
• To discourage mildew and odors, rinse the backing with
a solution of 2 tablespoons bleach to 1 gallon water.
Don’t use this solution on wool carpets. Also disinfect
the slab or subfloor.
• Discard and replace foam pads.
• Sections of subfloors that separate must be replaced to
avoid buckling. When floor coverings are removed, allow subfloors to dry thoroughly, even though it may take
several months. Disinfect all wet surfaces.
• In wood floors, remove a board every few feet to reduce
buckling caused by swelling. Ask a carpenter for tips on
removing tongue-and-groove boards.
• Clean and dry floor thoroughly before attempting
repairs. Using a dehumidifier will speed the drying process.
• In vinyl floors with wood subflooring, the floor covering
should be removed so the subflooring can be replaced.
With concrete floors, removal isn’t necessary except to
hasten drying of the slab.
• Loose tiles may be replaced if the floor has not been
soaked. If water has seeped under sheet flooring, remove the entire sheet.
• While cleaning, wash exposed skin frequently in purified water. Wear rubber gloves.
Natural Hazards Series: Recovery - Part 4
Cleaning Stormsoaked Clothing
When cleaning clothes
soaked during storm flooding,
remember that the flood water
may have been contaminated
with sewage waste. Simply drying these clothes is not enough.
For safety, they must be disinfected to kill harmful bacteria. Two tablespoons of liquid chlorine bleach per washer
load will kill bacteria without substantially damaging
clothes. Do not use more than 2 tablespoons per washer
load unless all the clothes can be safely bleached. Dry cleaning is also effective. Do not use bleach on
wool, silk, feathers and foam.
• Separate wet items as soon as possible to keep clothing
colors from running together. Sort out clothing that
should be drycleaned. Do not mix flood-soiled clothes
with clean clothes. Take care not to contaminate work
surfaces. • Items to be drycleaned should be air-dried and taken to
a cleaner as soon as possible. (If you suspect they may
have been in sewage-contaminated water, wear plastic
gloves.) Do not dry the clothes near a heat source such
as a stove. Once dry, shake and brush clothing outdoors
to remove as much soil as possible. • Rinse washable items several times in cold water.
If badly soiled, soak overnight in cold water and an
enzyme product or detergent. Wring out and air dry if
you’re unable to machine wash. • Machine wash clothes as soon as possible. Use a heavy
duty detergent and a disinfectant such as 2 tablespoons
of chlorine bleach, pine oil or a phenolic disinfectant.
Use highest water level possible, don’t overcrowd
washer and use hottest water temperature suitable for
the garments. Select the longest wash cycle available.
Dry in a dryer (if available) at the highest temperature
suitable for the fabric.
• Stained or very dirty clothes may require adding an
appropriate bleach to the wash. Follow directions on
the bleach containers and garment tags for types and
amounts to use. • If an item is still stained after washing, rewash before
drying. Drying may make some stains harder to remove. Contact your local Cooperative Extension Service
office listed under local government in the telephone directory or
and Garden Losses
Natural Hazards Series: Recovery - Part 5
Winds, floods and winter
storms can be very damaging to
plants. The information in this
part of the Storm Recovery Guide
will help you salvage some plants,
including grasses, and give you
some ways to recycle plant debris.
There’s also some discussion for
determining the value of lawn and
garden losses.
Salvage Tips
When plant material has been damaged because of
intense winds or flooding, prompt care should be taken to
salvage all usable plants.
Generally, it is practical and economical to reset only
small, young and easy-to-manage trees. Large, weakened
trees and shrubs may be dangerous, are slow to recover
and may be susceptible to future problems and even more
severe wind damage later. Fallen or partially uprooted
small trees and shrubs may be saved in many instances, so
keep roots covered and moist before resetting.
In certain areas, where erosion and flooding have occurred, a reconditioning of soil or planting area may be
necessary. Additional soil should be incorporated into the
planting area for proper root coverage. Replant trees and
shrubs at their original planting depth or slightly higher.
Excess soil or exposed roots will cause further shock and
damage. Firm soil around roots to eliminate air pockets
and provide support. Staking the first year may be needed
until roots become re-established.
Repairing and Pruning
In removing portions of a plant, use sharp tools that
make a smooth, clean cut. Avoid making flush cuts. Instead, cut the branch back to the outside of the branch
collar (the slight swollen area where the branch grows out
from the main branch or trunk). Leave no stubs. Ragged
cuts and unsightly stubs are prime areas for the attack of
insects or disease organisms. Flush cuts remove cells that
cover and heal wounds. When removing large limbs, avoid
unnecessary stripping of bark down the side of a trunk or
primary limb. To eliminate stripping, the first cut should
be an undercut halfway through the bottom of the limb,
about 12 inches outside of the branch collar. The second
cut is from the top of the branch, about 8 inches outside
the branch collar, and should go all the way through the
branch to remove the branch. The third cut is to trim the
stub to the outer edge of the branch collar.
Pruning and thinning should be done at the time of
resetting to reduce weight and remove broken and weakened limbs. Prune off only damaged branches. In no case
should excessive amounts of pruning take place. Foliage
is required to manufacture plant food, and plants need to
manufacture food to recover and resume healthy growth.
If you need to use a chainsaw to remove trees or large
branches, or if you need to climb a ladder to reach affected
branches, it is much safer for you and the tree to engage
the services of a professional, state-licensed arborist to do
the work. A list of state licensed arborists in your area is
available from the Louisiana Department of Agriculture
and Forestry at or you can call
Cut away only badly damaged roots. If roots are
exposed on blown over plants, immediately cover them to
keep them moist until the plant can be uprighted and the
roots buried.
Water all newly set plants immediately and, during dry
spells, a little more frequently than under normal circumstances. Drought may cause additional damage to plants
not watered regularly. Deep soaking with a slow stream of
water is most beneficial for root growth. This also will tend
to eliminate air pockets around the roots. A soaker hose or
a regular hose set on a slow drip is perfect for this. Leave
on the root zone for 8-24 hours, no more than once every
7-10 days during dry periods. Smaller shrubs and trees can
be irrigated like this every 5-7 days.
Mulch will conserve moisture, reduce weeds and be
helpful in re-establishing shrubs and trees. Mulch with fallen leaves, lawn clippings, pine needles or tree bark. Use a
layer of mulch 2-4 inches deep, and keep mulch 2-3 inches
away from the trunk of the tree.
Trees and large shrubs that are reset should be staked
until they become well re-established. Staking is also a
security against stress that may come if plants experience
other wind damage before re-establishment. Use metal
stakes or hardwood stakes that will not decay for several
months to a year. Place stakes at an angle away from the
trunk for greatest support. Avoid driving the stakes through
the main roots. To avoid injuring the trunk use a wide strap
or cloth that will reduce abrasion of the bark. If you use
wire or cable, be sure to run it through short lengths of old
garden hose to cushion the bark. Securely anchor plants
from three sides to prevent movement during normal high
winds and rain.
Natural Hazards Series: Recovery - Part 5
Staking can be dangerous. Place all stakes out of the
path of people so they will not trip on them or the guy
wires. It would be wise to clearly mark or use bright paint
on obstacles.
As a general rule, fertilizer is not applied to plants that
have been damaged until they overcome the shock, usually
the next year. Until they become re-established, fertilizer
will be of no major benefit and may injure the plant by
causing excessive growth that damaged roots can’t feed or
Fertilizer applied late in summer may also cause late
growth that will be more susceptible to early freeze injury.
Treating Freeze Damage
If trees show severe damage by bark peeling, you
should peel loose bark off so new bark can grow back.
Fertilize the tree in the spring. Some protection for fruit
trees or small, thin-barked trees can be provided by deep
mulches at the base and wrapping the bottom trunk with
wrap such as an old coat. Do not fertilize plants late in the
year or before February to prevent active growth during
cold, winter weather and to increase dormancy. Follow up
on freeze-damaged plants with pruning before leafing out.
Be sure to remove excess mulch (deeper than 4 inches) and
trunk wrapping as soon as cold weather passes.
Tree Debris and Renewal
Use as much tree and plant waste as possible to prevent burden on landfills.
• Cut suitable trees for firewood. Fallen trees should be
cut within one year for use as firewood, and the stacked
wood should be protected from rain. The thermal content of wood decreases as decay increases. Ash, oak and
pecan make very good firewood. Pine and gum would
be better used for other purposes. Firewood splitters
may be available for rent.
• Make mulch and compost. Most tree waste will be
decayed within several years, and it provides a valuable source of organic matter. Nitrogen fertilizer can
be added to mulch and organic matter to break it down
sooner. Chippers may be available for rent. For more
information on composting and making mulch, ask for
the Extension publications “Backyard Composting”
and “Basic Principles of Composting.” The best trees
for mulch are softer species which decay faster and are
easier to compost. • Use tree sections as framing for raised beds, for temporary bridges and for erosion control on steep, eroding
sites. They may be piled in rural areas for wildlife
habitat or fish shelters. Fish shelters should be firmly secured in flowing waters to prevent downstream blockage
of waterways. • When cut off at or above the ground, many favorite trees
will sprout from the stump and grow again. Trim neatly
and make clean cuts on any trees needing pruning.
Natural Hazards Series: Recovery - Part 5
Contact local nurseries or your county agent for pruning
• Dead tree stumps left in the ground will decay, sometimes producing large holes. This will take several
years. To speed up the process, consider using a stump
grinder where large trees have been lost. The occasional
addition of nitrogen fertilizer to the top of a grooved
stump will also promote rapid decay.
Assessing Landscape
and Tree Loss
You may be able to claim a
storm loss or insurance benefit
as a result of storm damage.
Here are ways to assess the
value of damaged trees and
• The decrease in the fair market value of the property
as a result of the casualty.
• The adjusted basis in the property.
• The amount of insurance or other compensation allowed.
• The cost of replacement (when replacement is
The decrease in fair market value is calculated two
ways: (1) appraisals immediately before and after the casualty and (2) deduction from the before-casualty fair market
value less the cost of cleanup, repair or replacement.
Competent loss appraisals by real estate appraisers are the
best proof of decrease in fair market value. Appraisal fees
are deductible under expenses incurred to determine tax
liability. Those fees are not part of the casualty loss.
Cleanup, repair and replacement costs on the damaged
landscape may be used to measure the decrease in property
value if:
• The repairs are necessary to restore the property to
its condition before the casualty.
• The amount spent on repairs is not excessive.
• The replacement or repairs do no more than take
care of the damage sustained.
• The value of the property after the repairs does not,
as a result of the repairs, exceed the value of the
property before the casualty.
The IRS allows homeowners to deduct landscape
losses that reduce the fair market value (FMV) of their
properties. They can calculate these losses by estimating
how much it will cost to restore the property to its FMV
(cleanup, repair and replacement).
Homeowners who sustain significant damage to landscape trees may wish to contact the IRS to determine what
other methods are used to evaluate tree value. If homeowners decide to pursue insurance claims or tax deductions,
they must prove that casualty loss was sustained because
of the storm or flood and that amounts claimed as loss are
deductible. Such record-keeping also is important in substantiating any claims for loss recovery.
Specifically, homeowners must be prepared to show:
1. The nature of the casualty and when it occurred.
2. That the loss was the direct result of a sudden and unusual event such as storm, lighting or wind.
3. That the claimant is the owner of the property.
The costs of the property can be proved by purchase
contracts, deed, etc.; value before and after the casualty; or the amount of insurance or other compensation received or
• Photographs of the property before and after the damage
help show the condition and value of the property before
the casualty.
• Local newspaper articles, complete with dates and the
newspaper’s name, serve as evidence of the casualty and
its time and location.
• Appraisals are the most desirable tools for establishing
values before and after the casualties.
• Keep receipts for repair and replacement for claims as
well as names of witnesses who can help substantiate
• A CPA, IRS agent or other knowledgeable tax person
should be promptly contacted for guidance.
Small Fruit Strategies
After a Storm
Storm damage to small fruits
shows itself in different ways, depending on crop growth habit as well as
proximity to the storm. For instance,
wind is the most destructive element for
most fruit trees and vine crops, while too much water, in
some instances saltwater, adversely affects other crops. Here are suggestions to help fruit growers evaluate
their damage and take whatever corrective action is possible.
• Damaged limbs should be cut back to sound wood following normal selective pruning practices.
This includes pruning back to lateral buds, crotches or
trunk. Cuts should be made just outside the limb collar,
a ridge circling the base of the limb. This will enable
pruning cuts to heal faster. When possible, maintain a
balanced appearance to the pruned trees. Research has
shown that pruning cuts do not need to be sealed with
pruning paint.
• Pruning can be used to remove weight from leaning
trees that are to be reset. Removing some of the canopy
can lessen the demand on the damaged root system
on trees that are reset. Results are usually best when
resetting toppled or leaning young small trees or shrubs.
Straightening older trees usually takes heavier equipment, which is difficult to use in soils soft enough to
straighten trees without tearing a lot of the remaining
intact roots. Straightened trees will require supports
lines for possibly several years while they reestablish
their root systems. Dikes, terraces or raised planting beds that were
altered need to be reshaped to protect the area, cover
exposed roots or provide a medium for new root
growth. Use the smallest equipment possible to
accomplish the job. This minimizes compaction and
reduces further root damage.
Premature defoliation caused by very high wind speeds
will weaken fruits. Defoliation coupled with root
damage will cause additional stress because the root
system serves as a tremendous storage reservoir for
carbohydrates manufactured by the leaves. Without this
reservoir of carbohydrates to call on for energy during
the winter, the plants may be saved in the short run only
to die during the winter. Once the top damage has been
pruned out and after the first freeze, apply nitrogen in
a complete fertilizer at the rate of 30 pounds actual N
per acre. This will help the plant start new root growth,
which will continue during the winter as long as the
soil temperature is above 45 degrees F. Soil concentrations of 3,000 ppm soluble salt will make fruit culture
very difficult. However, some fruits are much more salt
tolerant than others. Grapes, figs, pomegranates and
pecans are examples of fruits that will not be hurt by
increased salt concentrations as readily as blueberries,
strawberries and blackberries. If soil salt concentration
is high, irrigate frequently to help reduce the buildup of
salt after evaporation. Test all irrigation water for salinity. If irrigation ponds have been contaminated, pump
them out and fill with clean river or well water. Rainfall,
while complicating other cleanup activities, helps to
flush the soil.
• Using water with high sodium content, 250 – 400 ppm,
for extensive irrigation can cause internal soil drainage
problems. These problems can somewhat be corrected
by using gypsum.
• Apply at the rate of 2 ounces of gypsum per square foot
of area (2 ¾ tons per acre), and immediately irrigate to
move the material into the soil profile.
Natural Hazards Series: Recovery - Part 5
Salinity and Turfgrasses
After a Hurricane
The surge of saltwater brought inland by a hurricane
can cause a lot of damage to turfgrasses on lawns, golf
courses, sod farms, parks, playgrounds, sports fields and
leisure-recreation sites. Here are suggestions to help turf
managers overcome saltwater damage to turf. Irrigation with clean, sodium-free, fresh water is probably the most important practice to follow when rinsing
accumulated salts from turf leaf surfaces and leaching salts
from root zones of soils. Test all irrigation water sources
for salinity. If the irrigation pond has been flooded with
saltwater, pump it out and fill with clean river or well water. Or, irrigate from the well or river if not contaminated
with salt.
Natural rainfall over time will purge the salt from the
soil. This is dependent on the amount of rainfall.
• Bermuda and especially St. Augustine or Seashore
Paspalum mature turfgrasses have good relative salinity
tolerance (1500 ppm total soluble salts).
• Tall fescue, zoysia and perennial ryegrass have medium
salinity tolerance (800-1000 ppm total soluble salts).
• Red fescue, Rough bluegrass, Kentucky bluegrass and
centipedegrass have poor relative salinity tolerance
(600-800 ppm total soluble salts).
Repeated irrigation with water containing 1200 ppm
total soluble salts will be harmful to the turf unless followed by sufficient rainfall or fresh irrigation water. Even
irrigation water containing 500 to 600 ppm total soluble
salts, when used repeatedly without being flushed with
Natural Hazards Series: Recovery - Part 5
fresh water from rainfall or irrigation, can create a problem
by allowing salts to accumulate in the root zone of the soil,
especially in soils with poor internal drainage.
If it is fall overseeding time, remember that turf-type
perennial ryegrasses have only medium tolerance to
salinity. To avoid a loss in stand of winter cover, test the
soils for salinity before overseeding. High salt levels are
more damaging when the plants are young and the soil is
dry. Try to keep the soil moist at least when the plants are
Gypsum (calcium sulfate, 18% sulfur, 20% calcium)
can be used to help displace salt from the soil. Gypsum
works best when incorporated into the soil, but it can be
broadcast on the turf. Try 50 pounds of gypsum per 1,000
square feet. Gypsum is not very soluble in water, but it is
more soluble than limestone. Irrigate after gypsum application to move it into the soil surface and root zone of the
turf. Allow time for the chemical reaction, then test soil
salinity in four to six months. Continue irrigation to leach
the salts into soil below the root zone. Poorly drained soils
will be difficult to leach. Water logging the soil for extended periods can be as
harmful to the turf as excess soluble salts. Core aerification or deep tine aerification, preferably with coring tines,
can help improve infiltration and percolation of water and
salts through the soil and below the root zone.
Contact your local LSU AgCenter office listed
under local government in the telephone directory or .
Financial Recovery
and Risk Management
Natural Hazards Series: Recovery - Part 6
As you attempt to restore your life and home after
a storm or flood, you will face many decisions. In many
cases, the decisions will involve considerable investments.
Naturally, you’ll want to recover as much as possible
through your homeowner’s and flood insurance policies.
Where insurance falls short of your needs, other types of
assistance may be available, especially after a presidentially declared disaster. Part of your financial recovery
involves making good business decisions when contracting
for repairs.
These pages give advice on documenting losses,
insurance, financial assistance, contracting and consumer
Documenting Losses
and Claims
Whether you’re filing for
insurance, seeking assistance
or claiming a casualty tax
deduction, you will need proof
of your losses. Before you start
cleanup, take pictures. If you can’t take pictures, describe
the situation accurately, listing the specific items which
have been lost or damaged. Keep damaged materials for
proof of loss unless your adjuster authorizes their disposal.
It’s okay to remove the damaged articles from their original location to prevent further damage to the building, but
do not discard.
Remember to document the losses in your landscape
and garden. Also, document the amount of debris you will
have to remove, and whether it came from your property
or elsewhere. The flood insurance policy, and some
homeowner’s insurance policies, cover debris removal. If
you discard an appliance, record the serial number. If you
discard a large item such as ?? – keep a sample.
• Save all receipts relating to your temporary lodging and
food if your home is uninhabitable. Some policies pay
the difference between normal living expenses and the
cost of living elsewhere, although the flood insurance
policy does not.
• Save receipts for temporary repairs you made to protect
your property from further damage.
• Save receipts for materials you purchased and other
items related to protecting your building or contents
from flood damage. You may be able to claim these on
your flood insurance policy.
• Keep a copy of all letters and receipts that are sent to
insurance companies or relief agencies.
• Keep a record of all phone calls made in attempts to
receive reimbursements or aid. Be sure to include date
and time of call and name of person spoken to.
Filing for Insurance
These tips are offered to guide you in filing insurance
claims for damage to your home and loss of personal
• Call your insurance adjuster immediately, andprovide a
phone number where you can be reached.
• After carefully documenting losses, begin cleanup and
salvage as soon as possible. Don’t wait for an adjuster.
Keep damaged materials in an isolated spot as far from
the building as possible.
• Follow up on your insurance call with a letter detailing
the problem. Keep a copy of the letter.
• Leave phone numbers where you can be reached when
the adjuster arrives.
• Ask the adjuster to assess damages. Sign the proof of
loss statement. Report additional damage as it is found.
• Provide any other information the adjuster requests.
Be sure to file your insurance claims within the
policy’s imposed time limits. For the National Flood
Insurance Program policy, this time limit is 60 days; for
homeowner’s policies, it varies. Review the settlement
steps outlined in your policy. If you’re dissatisfied with the
proposed settlement offer, explain your position in writing.
If there’s a significant difference between what you are
offered and what you believe you are entitled to, you may
wish to submit the dispute to arbitration. The arbitration
process for a National Flood Insurance Program claim is
described in the policy under “Appraisal” in Article 9.
It can be difficult to determine whether damage was
caused by wind or flood, and thus which insurance policy
will cover the loss. Following Hurricanes Katrina and
Rita, the Louisiana State Department of Insurance established a mediation program to aid in settling such disputes.
Homeowner’s Insurance
Many people are surprised about
the extent of protection a homeowner’s
insurance policy offers. Although your
homeowner’s policy does not cover
damage caused by rising floodwaters,
it may offer some protection from loss
caused by wind, rain, hail, snow, lightning and freezing temperatures.
Increasingly, policies for homes in hurricane zones
exclude wind damage, or if the coverage is offered, it’s
available only in separate policies at a higher cost. In some
areas, private insurance is not available, and property owners can obtain insurance only through a state insurance
program that may provide minimal coverage also at a
higher cost.
Natural Hazards Series: Recovery - Part 6
If you have experienced a loss or damage to property,
review your policy’s provisions and contact your insurance
agent to file a claim and/or to update your policy to include
the coverage needed for the future. Be sure your coverage
amount is always at least 80% of the current replacement
cost of your home. Otherwise, you will not be paid the full
cost of replacing a partial loss.
Also, most homeowner’s policies pay for losses to
your contents (furniture, appliances, clothes, etc.) on an
actual cash value basis (replacement cost minus depreciation for age or wear and tear). A better option is to buy
replacement cost coverage that pays the full cost to replace
your personal property at today’s prices. Although the cost
is higher, the extra protection is usually worth it.
These items are usually covered but may vary
according to the policy’s provisions and up to the
dollar amounts that you purchased:
• Your house, including rental units that are part of
the building, and any attachments to the building
such as a garage.
• Any structures on your grounds that are not attached to your house such as a garage, tool shed,
pool cabana, gazebo or fences.
• Vacant land that you own or rent, with the exception of farmland.
• Cemetery plots or burial vaults that you own.
• Personal possessions that you or members of
your household own or use anywhere in the
world. This includes the contents of your house
and any structures on your grounds. It also
covers any possessions that guests bring to your
house, but it does not include the possessions of
any tenants you may have living in your home.
• Any items friends have lent to you that you’re
keeping on your property.
• Your living expenses, if your house is unlivable
because of damage.
• Rental payments, if you normally rent part of
your house but it is unlivable because of damage.
• Legal responsibility for unauthorized use of your
credit cards, checks forged under your name or
counterfeit currency accepted in good faith.
• Settlements, medical expenses, defense and court
costs involved in claims brought against you for
bodily injury to others or damage to the property
of others.
Many policy holders may be unaware of the extent of
the protection offered by their homeowner’s insurance. If
you have experienced a loss or damage to property, review
your policy’s provisions and contact your insurance agent
to file a claim and/or to update your policy to include the
coverage needed for the future.
Natural Hazards Series: Recovery - Part 6
A standard homeowner’s policy does not cover your
cars, most recreational vehicles, watercraft, animals, birds
or fish. While homeowner’s insurance does not cover
losses from rising water, it usually does cover water damage from such things as leaking roofs, broken windows
and broken pipes but excludes mold damage. Most policies
do not cover sewer backup unless you purchase a sewer
backup endorsement.
You should know, if you are in a designated special
flood hazard area and your structure is substantially damaged by any force (wind, water, fire), you may be required
by the local permit office to meet the flood damage prevention requirements for new construction; for residential
structures this means elevation. A structure is substantially
damaged when the cost of restoring the structure to its
pre-damage condition is 50% or more of its pre-damage
market value. Owners of structures in special flood hazard
areas can partially insure themselves for the added expense
of elevating a wind- or fire-damaged structure before repairs by purchasing a “Code Compliance” endorsement on
their homeowner’s policy.
Flood Insurance
Losses caused by rising floodwater are not covered
under most homeowner’s insurance policies. If you have
purchased coverage through the National Flood Insurance
Program at least 30 days before being affected by a flood,
you will be protected against property damage caused by
such flooding. You may also be partially reimbursed for
steps you take to prevent flood damage, even if the flood
never reaches your building.
Flood insurance policies include an endorsement
called Increased Cost of Compliance (ICC). This coverage will pay up to $30,000 for elevating or relocating an
insured dwelling so that it is above the flood protection
elevation required for new construction. For nonresidential
structures, floodproofing by other methods may also be
covered. The coverage may be used toward the cost of
demolishing the floodprone structure and building an
elevated foundation for a new structure at the required
At present, ICC coverage is available only for structures that have been substantially damaged by a current
flood event for which a damage claim is being filed. In
communities with cumulative substantial damage ordinances, eligibility may include the amount of damage
incurred in a prior flood.
Final responsibility for determining whether a structure
has been substantially damaged rests with the community.
In most Louisiana communities, the determination will
be made by or through the floodplain administrator who
is usually the building or permit official. Find your local
floodplain office at .
Insurance doesn’t protect your home, it protects your
pocketbook, and makes it possible for you to restore or rebuild. There are things you can do to protect property from
damage by natural hazards. It’s called “mitigation.” Ask
about our flood protection factsheets and hurricane guide,
or check the Web site.
Credit and Other Sources
Of Relief
Victims of natural hazards whose losses
exceed their insurance coverages may obtain
loans or other financial assistance.
• The Red Cross often helps with immediate
building repairs and living expenses when
no other immediate assistance is available.
• Merchants and dealers may extend credit for feed,
equipment and rehabilitation of buildings and land.
• The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers
medium- and long-term loans for rehabilitation of nonfarm homes and small businesses if overall damage in
the community meets certain criteria. Borrowers may
obtain 20% over the repair loan amount for mitigation
(to protect the property from future damage by natural
• Commercial and federal land banks offer loans with
moderately low interest rates for home repairs, improvements, land equipment and livestock.
• After a major disaster, many mortgage lenders offer
payment grace periods, forbearance, or may be willing
to restructure loan terms. Mortgage loans with no down
payment requirement may be available to storm victims
from private lenders and the USDA Rural Housing Service.
• Insurance companies offer long-term loans at relatively
high interest rates for home repair, improvements, land,
equipment and livestock.
• Uninsured losses, and the uninsured portion of losses,
should be reported as an additional itemized deduction
on federal income tax form Schedule A under casualty
Federal Disaster Assistance
If an event is declared as a major disaster by the president, numerous additional sources of federal assistance
will become available. The Federal Emergency Management Agency will set up a disaster registration hot-line and
will usually work with the Louisiana Office of Homeland
Security and Emergency Preparedness to establish local disaster recovery centers. The hot-line and recovery centers
will be sources of access to the various federal assistance
In addition to the SBA loans already mentioned, these
types of assistance are usually available:
• Individual and family grants, for those who do not
qualify for a loan
• Temporary housing assistance
• Unemployment assistance
• Assistance with recovery planning; mitigation advice
• Legal services to low-income families and individuals
• Crisis counseling for disaster-related mental health
• Special income tax advice and treatment
Housing rehabilitation assistance for low- and moderate-income households may also be available in some
communities through the U.S. Department of Housing and
Urban Development programs administered by local and
state agencies.
Recipients of federal assistance for flood damage will
be required to purchase and maintain flood insurance on
their property. In catastrophic disasters congress may authorize additional financial assistance and programs.
Contracting for Repairs
and Rebuilding
Selecting a Contractor
As you attempt to restore your life and home after a
storm, the availability of local companies and individuals
to perform the necessary services will be limited. It often
may be advisable to do temporary repairs and wait for local contractors who will be there to guarantee their work
long after the storm is over. If it is necessary to complete
the repairs, however, it is important to receive good quality
work, or major deterioration may appear later.
Outside contractors and companies will enter the
area to offer their services. Some are honest and will do
an adequate job, but be careful in working with outside
It is advisable, if possible, to check with the Better
Business Bureau, either in Louisiana or in the state and
city where the company or person is located. It also is
advisable to check with others for whom they have worked
in Louisiana. Determine if they have performed in a timely
and adequate manner.
Verify that a general, remodeling or mold removal
contractor is licensed with the Louisiana State Licensing
Board for Contractors. Visit for a
searchable list.
Ask about training or experience in complying with
the wind and flood provisions of the current building code.
Ask for proof of insurance. The contractor must have
disability and workers’ compensation insurance, or you
may be liable for accidents occurring on your property.
Do not pay in advance. Do not let the contractor begin
work until you have a signed contract. When the job is
complete to your satisfaction, pay by check or credit card,
not cash.
If you cannot find a contractor willing to accept these
basic terms, strengthen the patches and wait patiently until
you can be sure of a good job. Even under critical emergency conditions, complete, high quality repairs must be
done, or damage and deterioration will appear later.
Natural Hazards Series: Recovery - Part 6
Contract Essentials
The offer and acceptance (agreement) to do specific things in a
specific manner. State clearly, simply
and completely all that is to be done.
If beginning and finishing dates are
involved, state them in the body of the
contract. A good item to include in a contract for home rebuilding is that materials and procedures used will be those
provided for in minimum standards of the current building
Include what is guaranteed and for how long. Also
include who is responsible for the guarantee (contractor,
dealer or manufacturer).
State who is responsible for obtaining and paying for
any required building permits.
Parties involved must be at least 18 years of age and
mentally competent (not insane, retarded or suffering mental problems of aging). All parties must sign the contract.
For a consideration
Something of value changes hands, usually money.
The amount to be paid and schedule of payments should
be included in the contract. That schedule should be based
on progress toward completion, not on the passage of time.
Exercise your right to inspect all work or to hire someone
to inspect the work for you.
Buyer Beware!
• Is the contractor offering you a special deal?
Using your home as a model for his work? Shy
• Is the offer too good to be true? Be sure the
quality is there before you agree to buy.
• Does the contractor want cash only? Find
another contractor.
• Did the contractor solicit your business, rather
than your calling him? Were you pressured
into signing a contract? Federal law gives you
three days to cancel such a contract after you
sign it. Send your notice of cancellation by
registered mail.
• Do you think you’ve been had? Have you tried
to resolve your problem with the contractor,
but been unsuccessful? Don’t be embarrassed
to call the Consumer Protection Section of
the Attorney General’s Office at 225/3266465 or the 24-hour Consumer Info-line
For more information, contact your local LSU AgCenter office listed under local government in the telephone
Change Orders
The contract should specify procedures to be used to
change the original work order. Keep a copy of the signed
Withhold Full Payment Until
• The building contractor or person hired has paid for all
building supplies used. Require receipts for all paid bills
for all materials used.
• Everything has been completed on the job to the full
satisfaction of the contract and to the satisfaction of you
and your inspector.
• The contractor has provided you with releases of lien
from himself/herself, from suppliers and from labor
Natural Hazards Series: Recovery - Part 6
Hallie Dozier, Ph.D., Forestry
Lynn Hannaman, Ph.D., Professor, Engineering
Tom Koske, Ph.D., Professor, Lawn and Garden
John Pyzner, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Pecan and Fruit
Beth Reames, Ph.D., Professor, Nutrition & Food Safety
Claudette Reichel, Ed.D., Professor, Housing Specialist
Dennis Ring, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Entomology
Diane Sasser, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Adolescent Development
Pat Skinner, Extension Associate, Disaster Education
Jeanette Tucker, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Family Economics
Rebecca White, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Family Development
This Material is based upon work supported by the
Cooperative State, Research, Education and Extension Service,
U.S. Department of Agriculture,
under Award No. 2006-41210-03363.
Storm Recovery
Louisiana State University Agricultural Center
William B. Richardson, Chancellor
Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station
Visit our Web site:
David J. Boethel, Vice Chancellor and Director
Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service
Paul Coreil, Vice Chancellor and Director
Pub. 2668A-F 4/06
Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Acts of Congress of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in
cooperation with the United States Department of Agriculture. The Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service
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