After the storm has cleared, Eastern North Carolina residents can take certain steps to begin any repairs or recovery needed at home.
For those who have an estimate on the damages to their home, filing an insurance claim is encouraged.
According to John Mills, a spokesman for FEMA, insurance is the first line of defense in a disaster and insurance claims should be filed first.
If your insurance does not cover significant losses or if you have no insurance, then FEMA may be able to help, Mills said. Those requiring assistance can apply at disasterassistance.gov or call 1-800-621-3362. Have your social security number, address, estimates of damage and bank information ready while calling.
If you do not have insurance, filing for FEMA may be the only thing you can do, said Don Bullard, insurance agent for Don Bullard Insurance in Wilmington.
Bullard’s advice for those at home is to file a claim with their insurance company online as soon as internet service is available.
“Don’t go to the agent, those agents are going to be inundated,” Bullard said.
He said faster service, too, will probably be found for those who submit their claims online, which will send claims directly to the insurance company. If you are unsure of which insurance company serves you, however, Bullard said you will have to contact your agent first and ask for a website. In the wake of Hurricane Florence, Bullard said companies will most likely be dealing with “tens of thousands” of clients and filing online will save time for clients and their insurance.
“People should assess their situation - is their home safe, sanitary and secure?” Mills said. “Are they able to access their home?”
Mills said once you can answer these questions and make any damage assessments, then you may file insurance claims and so on. But, he reminded people to have patience with FEMA and other organizations that are providing disaster aid.
“The first thing that happens is helping save people’s lives,” Mills said.
Bullard agreed, saying people should keep in mind insurance claims will be serviced based on the priorities of the company and client safety -- those with the most severe damage will be served first.
"The main thing is just protect yourself and be patient because this is going to be a long, drawn-out affair, realize we will get through it it’s just going to take some time,” Bullard said.