|Date:||May 29, 2019|
PENSACOLA, Fla. (WEAR-TV) —Home and business owners have filed 146,191 insurance claims since Hurricane Michael last year.
Covered losses top six billion dollars, according to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation.
The Ridleys in Lynn Haven had insurance, but they're probably years away from returning to their beloved neighborhood.
Thankfully, the couple has a small tree farm near Chipley where they rode out the storm.
They're living there now, while they await word on what will happen to their damaged and now moldy home.
Kathryn Daniel asked for their best advice, on what to do and not do when a monster like Michael takes aim.
Jeff and Annette Ridley have a lot of hard-earned wisdom about hurricanes, from prep to post-storm recovery.
Their top tip is to take a ton of "before" pictures for insurance records. They encourage preppers to take more pictures than they ever think they'll need.
Jeff said, "Open the drawers of your house, open up every door, every cabinet and just take a picture, you will never believe how valuable that is post-storm."
Annette emphasized the need to photograph Items you might not think about, like office supplies, spices, paint cans in the garage. She said the value of such things adds up quickly.
She continued, "Even the refrigerator, that's one of the things they wanted us to provide proof, that our food had spoiled."
Annette said that when it comes to big ticket items, you will need more than photos for insurance companies, "Model numbers for your T.V., any type of electronic appliance."
She added that it really helps if you video your house, garage and sheds, inside and out.
Jeff warned against immediately raking and tossing debris in the hours and days after a disaster.
He expanded, "As soon as you get there, you want to start cleaning everything, but you need to take those pictures."
He said it's best to wait to sort or move damaged piles or items until your insurance adjuster gives you the go-ahead, because every insurance company has different requirements.
Expect scammers to come around, and quickly.
Jeff said that within just ten minutes after they got back from evacuating, people were in their yard pitching services. With a little research, they soon learned that none of them were licensed or legit.
Jeff warned folks to expect bouts of what they call "hurricane brain." That's when they felt scattered, overwhelmed, and hopeless in the first days and then weeks after Michael. Thankfully, they work well together and could prop each other up as they tackled their massive clean up project.
Jeff said they're still on guard when it comes to managing their mental health.
He said, "P.T.S.D. for people post-storm has been traumatic in our area and we have people who are really still hurting, bad."
The couple has accepted that recovery will probably take years instead of months, but they intentionally look for and find signs of progress.
Jeff smiled, "It does get better every day. It does get better. We see our community improve every day, and that's wonderful."