By Phallon Tillis
From a girl in New Orleans on how to prepare for after:
I am from New Orleans and survived through Katrina. Here are some lessons I learned for those in Houston:
1) File for everything now. FEMA, Red Cross, Insurance, SBA loans if they are opened up. All of it. If you end up not needed it, give it back or donate it. Some people will be out of work for a while, and everything will help.
2) If your refrigerator had food in it and no power for 10 days or more, don’t open it. Just tape it shut and bring it outside. Don’t. Open. It.
3) If you eat an MRE (military meal ready to eat/emergency rations), know those are VERY high in calories, and if you eat three a day, you will put on a lot of weight very quickly. A month after Katrina, everyone was confused why they had gain 20 lbs.
3b) MRE gum makes you poop.
4) Work with your neighbors to scope out stores and gas stations that are open when the water goes down. Find out about HEB and Army water and ice supply areas. Be prepared for very long lines and limited selection at stores. AND KEEP A RADIO ON.
5) Keep your coolers clean.
6) Be liberal in the gutting of your house if you got water. Black mold is a nightmare health-wise.
7) Flood insurance (for Katrina) covered the first four feet of damage, and then homeowners cover everything after that.
😎 Have an inventory of your property loss for your insurance company.
9) Argue with your insurance company but in a nice way.
10) A lot has been lost, but there are also huge opportunities opening up for work and businesses. Haulers, or anyone with a trailer and truck, will be able to make a lot of money in the clean-up. Some places will be scrambling for temporary workers like insurance adjusters. So will FEMA.
11) Be aware of scam laws post-storm. Some people have no morals and will try to cheat you when you are in need.
12) Mentally and emotionally prepare for out-of-state people coming in to capitalize on rebuilding and gutting. Lots of people will flood the area looking for work.
13) Seriously — contractors, roofers and general construction work will be in high demand. Prices will spike. Scammers will come in. Never pay for everything upfront in full. Demand to see plans for what they will do and know if they are licensed and bonded.
14) It is just stuff. It doesn’t feel like that right now, but if your family is okay and you can get back to your life quickly, it will not be that bad.
15) Squatters might be a thing you have to deal with. If you have your paperwork, great; if you don’t, it will be much harder. I am sending you love if this happens to you.
16) This is hitting you now, and it is hard, and it sucks. You will most likely move into “fix it” mode,” and things will feel okay for a while. Then it is going to hit you again. That is okay. Your world has been turned upside down. It is normal for you to react to that emotionally. If you need help, get it. Yes, everyone is going through it. That does not lessen what you are going through.
17) Depending on how much you lost, this will change you, and you view certain things. I *need* to have reliable transportation all the time now. A weird sound in my car makes me panic. Why? Having a car is the only reason we got out of Katrina. People died because they didn’t. So this is a thing I do now. Whatever happens to you — it is okay. Things happen, and you change. That is normal.
18) Take it one day and one thing at a time. This is a marathon, not a sprint. You will not be able to fix everything all at once, and that is okay.
19) It may seem like people far away don’t understand or care. The TV makes things feel less real. It doesn’t mean you are alone. Lots of people are sending help and love.
20) You will get through this.
I know this could help a lot of y’all out there! 😘