Once the storm has passed and the recovery begins, there are several steps residents should take to ensure they're safe during the cleanup and to start to apply for assistance, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency:

  • If the home is still standing, enter with caution and beware of snakes, insects and animals driven to higher ground by water.
  • Open the windows and doors to ventilate and dry your home.
  • Check refrigerated foods for spoilage.
  • Take pictures of the damage both to the house and its contents for insurance claims.
  • If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and quickly leave the building. Turn off the gas at the outside main valve if you can and call the gas company from another phone outside your home. If you turn off the gas, it must be turned back on by a professional.
  • If you suspect sewage lines are damaged, avoid using the toilets and call a plumber.
  • If water pipes are damaged, contact the water company and avoid water from the tap. You can obtain safe water by melting ice cubes.
  • If you see sparks or broken or frayed wires, or if you smell hot insulation, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. If you have to step in water to get to them, call an electrician first.
  • If you have lost power, turn off major appliances to reduce the power surge when electricity is restored.
  • To apply for assistance, call FEMA at 1-800-621-3362. You will need to provide your Social Security number and financial information, a description of your losses and directions to the damaged property.