Severe storms are a warning to prepare for emergencies

Severe storms are a warning to prepare for emergencies
Severe storms are a warning to prepare for emergencies
Khushbu Kumari

Remember that there are resources available to those impacted

After the severe storms that struck California during the first weeks of January, emergency experts warned that it is never too late to prepare and stay safe at home or on the road when disaster strikes; and reminded those who were impacted that there are resources to help them.

During the videoconference: “Stay Alert and Safe During Storms, It's Not Too Late to Be Prepared”, organized by Ethnic Media Services, several experts reviewed the impact of storms, recalled where support resources are and gave a guidance on what we should do to be prepared for any future emergency.

Diana Crofts-Pelayo, a spokeswoman for the governor's Office of Emergency Services, said the past storms represent one of the deadliest disasters in the state's modern history, with 20 deaths, flooding, hurricane-force winds, mudslides and levee breaches.

“Following the disaster declaration, California continues to work closely with FEMA to maximize relief and support for communities. We have petitioned for more counties to be added to the disaster declaration to receive assistance to ensure that local damages are assessed.”

He revealed that a recent report from the National Weather Service shows that the system that created the big storms has ended.

However, he mentioned that it is never too late to be prepared for the next emergency, and we should talk with our loved ones about plans in case of an earthquake or fire.

“Do you have a first aid kit in case you have to leave the house quickly or if you need to stay home?” he asked.

Crofts-Pelayo reminded residents and business owners of Merced, Sacramento and Santa Cruz counties that suffered the greatest losses from the storms, can apply for disaster assistance: Visit DisasterAssistance.gov online or call 800-621 -3362

Returning home after a flood

Jason Wilken of the California Department of Public Health said the best advice when returning home after a flood is to avoid that water as it may contain things that are unhealthy.

“It may contain toilet waste, microbes, dangerous chemicals such as gasoline; and usually the water from the floods is muddy and cloudy, and can bring hidden, sharp and heavy objects”.

But it can also come with downed light poles, dead or alive animals.

“So the best thing you can do to protect your health is to avoid contact with flood water, or consume contaminated food or water as they can cause serious illness, including diarrhea and skin infections.”

And he recommended not letting children play in or near floodwater, or with toys that have been washed away by floodwaters until they are disinfected.

“If you have to be in contact with that floodwater, wear plastic gloves and boots.”

He also said that flooding can make drinking water unsafe to drink if it has been contaminated by flooding.

“Local water authorities must advise whether tap water is safe to use or whether it should be boiled or not used at all. The bottled water itself is safe, but the bottles could have been in contact with the flood so the outside may be contaminated and the best way to disinfect those sealed bottles is to boil them for a minute.

And he warned that flooding can also contaminate food.

Therefore, he advised discarding any fresh or packaged food that has come in contact with floodwater and even in sealed metal containers. Those still need to be cleaned and sanitized before consuming what's inside.

Regarding cleaning and disinfection, he said that the most recommended is a tablespoon of chlorine in a gallon of water to clean utensils and surfaces.

“It is very important that people keep in mind that you should never mix cleaners, for example bleach plus ammonia because they will create chlorine gas and that is something that can easily overwhelm and incapacitate someone.”

And lastly, she suggested removing items that have been damaged by water to prevent mold growth on hard surfaces.

Kim Johnson, director of the California Department of Social Services, recalled the resources available in the event of a disaster, which are in Spanish and English.

“CalFresh voucher assistance for the three affected counties have been approved; and those who have had, for example, power outages related to these storms and have lost food resources they would have otherwise purchased, can replace them within 10 days of that loss simply by contacting their local social services agency. county”.

He stated that there are specific programs for tribal members such as Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and they can also visit the website https://www.cdss.ca.gov/ to connect them with resources; and call the Hope Line, 1-833-317 Hope (4673) or www.hope.org ; and for elderly neighbors who may be experiencing isolation, they have the helpline at 1-888-670-1360.

damage coverage

Tony Cignarale, deputy commissioner of the California Department of Insurance, said that the coverage they are going to get whether it is for a flood, storm, falling trees, debris removal, depends on the type of protection they have for their car or business.

“Wind and storm damage that damages your property will generally be covered under standard homeowners insurance, renters insurance, and commercial property insurance policies.”

But he clarified that damage, which could include mudflow and debris, is not covered by standard policies unless you have separate flood insurance.

And he made it clear that if you don't have flood insurance, you won't be covered for damage to your home or business.

However, he did mention that there is an exception, if you are in an area that had previous wildfires, and if the cause of the spread to your property is related to the previous fire, and the damage reflects that.

Cignarale said that one of the lessons learned from these storms is that in the event of a loss, make sure to get a copy of the insurance or commercial auto policy first so that you are clearly aware to quickly contact your insurance agent and make the questions you need to take action.

“Any conversation you have, whether it's with your agent or if it's just your claims adjuster, keep a clear journal of who you're talking to, what you talked about, if you evacuated, if you're sick, or if you had a loss, and make sure to have receipts available for their hotel bills and other expenses.”

He advised taking photos and videos of the damage, independent of the adjuster's inspections.

And lastly, he asked that you not be fooled by people who will show up, be it a contractor or an unlicensed public adjuster or anyone. “Verify that they have a state license”

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