Wildfire recovery can be a long and emotional process. Taking care of yourself and your family is priority number one as you sift through programs and resources to help you respond, rebuild, and recover.
Stay safe! Check our Immediate Safety page for tips on returning home. You can start the recovery process with a simple guide to returning home like the one found here or browse more comprehensive materials from the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety.
Washington has some incredible organizations that have dedicated themselves to improving wildfire preparedness, response, and recovery. Washington Fire Adapted Communities (WAFAC) and the Chumstick Wildfire Stewardship Coalition are two such organizations that offer invaluable information and lessons around community wildfire resilience, including this video on Preparing for After the Fire.Keep reading below for a quick and basic homeowner's checklist when starting wildfire recovery.
- Contact your insurance representative ASAP. They are trained in guiding homeowners through disaster recover. Policies typically cover temporary housing, in addition to the structure and personal property.
- Related Note: Contact the Insurance Information Institute at 212-346-5500 for information on obtaining insurance. An estimated 40% of homeowners impacted by the Carlton Complex Fire were uninsured or underinsured.
- Contact the post office to set up a temporary mailing address to send/receive insurance and assistance information. It can be a PO Box or a friends address if available.
- Document and report how, when, and where damage occurred. Keep record of who you talk to and when.
- Document and photograph if possible a list of what was damaged or lost. If you can create something like this Home Inventory List before disaster hits tracking items will be easier.
- Keep track of living expense while you are out of your home – housing, clothes, medicine, and other necessities – in the case that your policy covers these additional expenses.
- FEMA’s Assistance to Individuals and Households Program may be able to provide financial help to those impacted by a disaster with unmet needs through insurance or other means.
- In the case your vital documents and records have been lost in the fire, use this link to start replacing them.
- Protect your property from further damage if possible: salvaging undamaged items, weatherproofing windows, etc. can help.
- Contact your lender if you have a mortgage as you are working through the insurance claim. They will usually play a role in the payments to contractors as you rebuild. Prepare your credit card company for unusual upcoming expenses or lost cards.
- Reduce the risk of future disasters as you rebuild by taking advantage of community preparedness programs or a free wildfire assessment from the Chumstick Wildfire Stewardship Coalition.