We know you’re like us and have been hurting for our fellow Texans in Houston and along the Texas Gulf Coast. As we all find ways to help and provide assistance, we would venture a guess that maybe you are related to or know someone (or know someone who knows someone) down in that area.
This advice from the Houston Association of REALTORS® is absolutely invaluable. We need to share this list with those who have lost homes and property in that area as the waters start receding and recovery starts…
1. Call your mortgage company, car loan company, student loan & credit card companies. Ask for a 3 month reprieve from payments. There should be no late fees assessed. They will work with you. You may need the money to get back on your feet. You must go through your insurance company first. FEMA comes in behind your insurance for further possible assistance. You must register with FEMA by calling 800-621-3362. If you lost income because you can’t go to work, call FEMA at 800-621-3362 to register for disaster unemployment.2. Take lots of photos. Call the insurance company asap. Get them to start your claim now. Anything under water is covered. Exception would be items that can be washed or stone counter tops. But laminate counters can be claimed because they are wood.3. USE A LOCAL CONTRACTOR!!! Lots of con-artists will try to take advantage. Get estimates from a contractor for repairs. You don’t need to use that contractor, but the homeowner’s insurance company needs them. (psst – the higher the better). And a personal note from experience…be patient. Labor and supplies will be very limited as the fourth largest city in the US tries to get itself on its feet. And contact your favorite neighborhood REALTOR® if you need recommendations for the work.If it has a plug or an outlet and it was under water, DO NOT USE IT. Water and electricity do not mesh. Those outlets will corrode over time and house fires start – even in the future. Especially if this was salt or brackish water. Salt will corrode the wiring and outlets faster. And BX corrodes faster than Romex.4. Wear an N-95 mask any time you are indoors in a house that was flooded. One of our teammates contracted bacterial and fungal pneumonia from Sandy. She was on prednisone for 2.3 years. She gained 90 lbs from prednisone. Otherwise she could have been in the hospital for a few weeks to a month.5. Empty your home quickly of items that are destroyed. If it has a plug, it is toast. If it runs on gas or electricity and was under water, it is trash. Cut drywall to 4′ (the width of drywall.). It saves time and money when you are replacing it.Don’t do it like on HGTV. No sledge hammers needed. Draw a line 4′ above the floor. Cut with a razor blade. Put one hole in the wall and grab and pull. Hopefully you have drywall nails in there and not screws. Remove insulation from that same area. Feel above for dampened insulation. If it is damp, go 2′ more up. Once you are sure you have all the moisture gone and are down to the studs, spray with bleach. You don’t want mold to grow. Make sure your windows are open.6. Solid wood furniture? Spray with bleach or Wet and Forget from Home Depot type stores. Bleach is less expensive.7. Everything will mold or mildew if not treated. It is not worth your health in the long run.8. Expect that this will take 3 months on average to fix – from the time you begin tossing things out to the final paint coat.God bless you all and be safe.
If you want to help victims of Hurricane Harvey, there are so many ways to do that. Let’s reach out to our fellow Texans who have lost so much…Help with rescue efforts
If you have a boat or a safe high-water vehicle, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office wants your help; the office put out a call on Twitter for residents to help with rescues. Call 713-881-3100 to help.
Gofundme has curated a list of Harvey relief efforts, with fundraisers for individual cities, families and homes.
Individuals and corporations can donate to hurricane relief efforts through the Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster.
You can help Hurricane Harvey victims by texting HARVEY to 90999 to give $10 to the Red Cross (or by visiting RedCross.org to give any other amount).
The Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund, established by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, is accepting donations for flood victims.
Several hospitals are reporting blood shortages and seeking donations in the wake of the storm. O negative and O positive donations are particularly helpful, but people of all blood types are encouraged to donate.
Carter BloodCare is sending donations to Southeast Texas; see where you can donate here. You can also give blood through the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center; find out more on their website or by calling 210-731-5590.
Living outside of Texas? You can still donate blood through the Red Cross.
Volunteer your time
Experts expect it’ll take some time before the floodwaters drain in Houston. In the meantime, several groups are seeking volunteers to help with recovery efforts.
Volunteer Houston has launched a virtual Volunteer Reception Center to aid nonprofit agencies in flood relief efforts. More information here.
Remote Area Medical is seeking medical personnel, as well as general support and supplies, to help with rescue efforts. Contact RAM at email@example.com or 865-579-1530.
The State Bar of Texas has a legal hotline to help people — specifically low-income Texans — with issues such as replacing lost documents and answering insurance questions. They also started a disaster relief volunteer form, which attorneys licensed in Texas can fill out here.