Cleaning Up

Hazardous Materials

Definition: Hazardous materials refer to any substance defined or identified by any governmental authority as harmful to the environment or capable of posing a risk of injury to public health and safety. The term includes, without limitation, any substance, whether in the form of a solid, liquid, gas or any other form whatsoever, which requires special handling in its use, transportation, generation, collection, storage, treatment or disposal.

Personal Property

In insurance terminology, personal property is commonly referred to as contents. Contents refers to items that are not attached to the structure or that would typically be taken with you if you were to sell or move out of the home. These items would include: furniture, clothing, books, electronics, some appliances, drapery, collectibles, paintings, kitchen utensils, sports equipment, toys, tools, food, etc. After a disaster, the contents of your home may have to be removed and stored offsite in order to perform repairs.

Smoke & Water Damage

Fire is the chemical process of transforming a solid into a gas through heat. During a structure fire, the smoke and heat pressurize the inside of the building. The pressure forces smoke into every airspace, cavity, and crack and can be found inside closed compartments such as cabinets. The pressure can cause windows and doors to crack or blow out. In an attic fire, the pressure can build high enough to force smoke down into wall cavities, through the small holes that are drilled for electrical wiring or plumbing vent pipes.

Financial Recovery

Disaster Relief and Financial Assistance

What Is Disaster Assistance?

Homeowners Insurance Information

What To Do After A Loss

Public Insurance Adjusters

A public insurance adjuster is an insurance adjuster that may be hired directly by the insured to represent them against their insurance company for the purpose of settling the insurance claim. Typically a public adjuster will charge a percentage of the claim proceeds for their services as their fee. In the State of California, a public adjuster must be licensed with the California Department of Insurance and abide by the laws that govern them, primarily found in the California Insurance Code.

Recovery of Valuables

Your state legislators can expedite the replacement of documents if there is an urgent need especially passports for those with international travel or work requirements. Birth certificates should state the Bureau of Records for the state of birth. California birth, death, fetal death, still birth, marriage and divorce records are maintained by the California Department of Public Health, Office of Vital Records. Services provided by the Office of Vital Records include:

Working with Contractors

Avoiding Disaster Scams

FIVE TRICKS OF A CON ARTIST Here are five ways that scam artists can get you to part with your hard-earned money against your better judgment. Some of the following information was provided by the Attorney General of the State of Texas and can be viewed here.

Estimates and The Scope of Work

It cannot be overstated the importance of obtaining a comprehensive and detailed scope of work and estimate of repairs before you hire a contractor to rebuild. These documents should be provided to you by your adjuster and any contractors bidding on the reconstruction project. The final estimate, agreed to by your insurance company will provide the funding to rebuild or repair the damages.

Finding The Right Contractor

Finding a qualified contractor to rebuild or repair your home will be one of the most important decisions you will make. Contractors who specialize in fire and flood restoration are generally more familiar with the methods of restoration than home remodelers or new home builders. Restoration contractors can also be of great help in the insurance claims process because they can provide detailed estimates and support documentation in the format preferred by insurance companies.

Working with Contractors following a disaster

Immediately after a disaster, you may be solicited by public insurance adjusters, contractors, or other salespeople offering their services. These services may include (but are not limited to) handling your insurance claim, securing the property to prevent unauthorized entry, i.e. a board up, restoring utilities, installing shoring to prevent collapse, setting up temporary fencing or power, providing structural drying services, moving or cleaning personal property, removing debris and so forth.

Taking Care of Yourself Following an Emergency

Replacement and Relocation

How do I find my family?

Safety After a Disaster

Do not return to your damaged home before the area is declared to be safe by local building and safety officials. Returning home can be both physically and mentally challenging, so use extreme caution.

Trauma, Intervention & Grief Counseling

The following information was graciously provided by Chaplain Tim Serban, MA, BCC, Co-Author of "Disaster Spiritual Care" and Director of Spiritual Care at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, Washington.