In your safe spot, you should continue to listen to KWWL on television or to your weather radio to make sure you are in the clear and there are no other storms heading your way.
Once the storms have passed and there is no other danger, let close family/friends know that you are okay. A group text or a post on social media marking you as safe is a very efficient way to do this.
If you are trapped by debris and cannot get out, do anything you can to draw attention to yourself: yell, scream, use the whistle you packed in your emergency kit, the point is to make noise so you can be found.
When you exit your shelter, be very careful of your surroundings.
"Make sure that there are not trees blocking any exits, there are not power lines down, safety is the number one issue. we don't want people to survive after being in their home after a tornado and then go out on the road and hit a power line or have a tree fall on their car", says Lorie Glover, former Black Hawk County Emergency Management Coordinator.
There could be a lot of hazards after severe weather or a natural disaster. Contact authorities if you come across downed power lines and always assume they are live with electrical current. When walking through storm damage, make sure you are wearing sturdy shoes, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt. Stepping on nails is an extremely common injury after storms.
Check on your neighbors who may require help, including the elderly, infants, and people with disabilities but do not enter damaged buildings.
If you come across someone who is injured, do not move them. Provide first aid or CPR if you are able. 911 may not work immediately after a storm since the lines are overwhelmed but all counties in the viewing area will accept 911 texts.
“The 911 dispatcher does accept text messages and those text messages do go through when your regular cell phone will not ring or make a call, but your text messages usually do go through" says Glover.
In the days following a storm you may need to contact your insurance company.
Once you have done a quick assessment of the damage, call your local agent as soon as possible or call the insurance company. They should be able to guide you through reporting the claim.
To get the most of out of your insurance policy, Kyle Hildman of the Sinnott Agency in Waterloo says documentation is key.
"Document everything: if you can, take pictures, create like a claims log, any expenses that you would incur, if that's temporary materials to prevent further damage, keep record of that. If you have any damaged property, set it aside for the adjuster when they get there so they can inspect that property, the more documentation you have, the better the claims process is going to be for you."
Taking pictures of items in your home before severe weather strikes and keeping a household inventory of those items by room, will help make the process easier after a natural disaster.
It could take an insurance adjuster a few days to get out to start the claims process so do what you can to prevent further damage to your home but be sure to keep a record of all your expenses.
Make sure you do your homework and work with a reputable contractor. It is always a good idea to ask friends and family for recommendations.
Keep in mind that most homeowner's policies do not cover flooding. Flood insurance must be purchased separately, however your homeowner's policy may include an endorsement that covers sump pump failures and sewage backup.
Another good insurance tip is to review your policy yearly.
"Every year, you know, things are always changing. Insurance companies may be introducing new endorsements or changing language a little bit on some of the endorsements, so it's usually a good idea to do that annual review", Hildman says
The claims process can be stressful, but you can lessen that by following some of the tips we just shared.