Assessing the damage done to your home, property after a storm

Published: January 17, 2022 8:39 PM EST
Updated: January 17, 2022 9:12 PM EST

One of the most critical steps to take after a storm is assessing your home and property damage. Then you’ll be able to go ahead and contact your insurance company.

When damage is extensive, and there’s quite a bit of it, the first thing you should do is take out your phone and snap as many pictures from different angles as possible.

The issue in Iona and other parts of Southwest Florida was that when this tornado ripped through, many of the residents didn’t have homeowners insurance.

Sheila Willis says she’s thankful that nobody was hurt and that two homes he owns suffered minor damage, considering what the rest of her neighborhood looks like.

“I was fortunate. In both of the properties that I own, as well as my brother’s property, there was minimal damage to the structure. I have a window to replace in one residence. I have a roof to repair at this residence and clean up,” Willis said.

Plus, Willis doesn’t have insurance. Neither do most of her neighbors.

Since Willis lives in a mobile home, she says it’s nearly impossible for anyone to find a company that will give her a policy. “It’s very cost-prohibitive, so we tend to go without it,” said Willis.

Many people who claim to be insurance adjusters are going door to door, trying to get people in the neighborhood to pay for their services. The owner of All Service Adjusting recommends being skeptical of people you don’t know who claim to be insurance adjusters.

John Fuentes owns All Service Adjusting. “It assigns a contractor the right to collect your check. It assigns them the right to do the repairs. Basically, your claim for your own insurance,” Fuentes said.

If you have homeowners insurance, try to do all you can to prevent further damage. For example, cover existing holes, pick up as much debris as possible. If you purchase any tools to make those repairs, be sure to keep your receipts.

And, check with your insurance adjuster before hiring anyone to do work for you.

As for Willis and her family, they’re on their own for now. “Hopefully, we’re able to take care of it ourselves. With the help of friends and family and neighbors and we’ll get through it,” said Willis.

Also, make sure to check your insurance policy. You could be eligible for extra living expenses or meals depending on the damage.

WINK News consumer reporter Andryanna Sheppard reached out to Governor DeSantis’ office to see if there’s any plan to help the communities impacted by these tornadoes. So far, we have not heard back.