With extreme flooding and over 30,000 people displaced, Hurricane Harvey continues to impact much of the southeastern U.S. If you’re in one of the affected areas, here are a few tips to help deal with the aftermath of the storm.

How to deal with a power outage

Don’t open the refrigerator or freezer door if you can help it. Refrigerated food can stay cold (and safe for consumption) for up to 4 hours, while frozen food can last up to 48 hours if the freezer is densely packed (or 24 hours if it’s less packed). For more on food safety in an emergency, check out these guidelines from the USDA.

To avoid a power surge when the electricity returns, turn off computers, TVs, and other nonessential electronics. But be sure to leave a light on so you’ll know when the power is restored.

If you have elderly or handicapped neighbors, help out by making sure they’re safe, and have food and water. If someone has medical equipment that requires electricity, call for help or get them to a place where the power is working.

After power is restored

In the aftermath of a power outage due to harsh weather, it’s best to avoid going outside if possible. But, if you must, here are some tips to help keep you safe:

Practice extreme caution if you go outside to survey the damages after a storm. Remember that downed or hanging electrical wires can be hidden by fallen trees or other wreckage. Always assume that a downed line is a live line and highly dangerous.

Check in with your neighbors, just as you would if the outage were still in effect. Use designated crosswalks and sidewalks if you have to get somewhere on foot.

Flood waters

Flood waters from Hurricane Harvey are still affecting many areas in Texas. Here are a few tips to help you stay safe until the flood waters subside.

Estimate how deep the water is

As little as 6 inches of water can damage your car and lead to stalling. A foot of water may even cause your vehicle to float. If you think the water is more than 6 inches deep, don’t try to drive through it. Best to turn around and find another route.

Slow your speed

If you drive through water, slow down and take your time.

Watch for downed power lines

If you approach a water-ridden area where power lines are down, turn around.

Respect the barricades

If you’re approaching a road that’s barricaded, don’t attempt to go around the barricade and take the road anyway. There’s a good chance serious danger’s ahead.

Don’t wait out the water in your car

Because only a foot of water can make your car float and 2 feet can cause it to float away, your car’s not a safe place to hide. If your car stalls due to water or starts to float, get out, find higher ground, and use your phone to call 9-1-1.

After the flood

If the water from a flood made its way to your engine, there’s a chance for serious damage. Water damage can lead an insurer to declare your car a total loss. If you suspect your car suffered water damage, don’t drive it until it’s checked out by a mechanic. The mechanic can check on the electrical components and let you know the extent of the damage.

If flood damage is included on your car insurance policy, your insurer will work with you on a settlement, which often involves a check for the ACV, or actual cash value, of your car at the time of loss. File a car insurance claim as soon as you can so a dedicated claims rep can start walking you through the process.

All the news | Around the nation


about Jonathan

Jonathan is a word nerd, a food freak, and a travel junkie. By day, you'll find him weaving words for Esurance as a Senior Copywriter. But in his off time, he'll likely be digging into a new restaurant in his home base of Denver, Colorado, or white-knuckling his way down a mountainside on a weekend road trip.