Saturday, April 10, 1999

Dealing with storm aftermath

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        When the sirens go silent, able homeowners and their friends and relatives can't wait to begin saving and fixing.

        Here are some suggestions, gathered from experts including representatives of Cinergy, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the American Red Cross.

Going back
        • Have someone with you when you inspect your house.

        • Check for loose power lines and gas leaks. If you see trouble, call Cinergy, at 421-9500.

        • Check the foundation for cracks; examine roofs and overhangs.

        • Don't go inside if you see standing water next to the outside walls.

        • To prevent explosions, don't smoke or use candles, gas lanterns or other open flames.

Coming unplugged
        • If you suspect a gas leak, leave the house and call Cinergy. If the gas meter is outside, turn off the gas at the valve next to the meter. If the valve is parallel to the pipe, the gas is on. To turn it off, turn the valve 90 degrees.

        • Even if your street has no power, make sure the power supply to your house is disconnected.

        • If you have to step in water to get to your electric box, call an electrician. Otherwise, pull the fuse box handle to OFF; then pull out fuses. If your house has breaker boxes, push all circuit breakers to OFF.

Putting it on paper
        • Make a list of damages. Records will be needed for insurance claims, applications for disaster assistance and income-tax deductions. Records should include receipts for storm-related expenses.

        Extensively damaged appliances, furniture and flooring will have to be discarded. For items too big for normal trash pickup, call haulers BFI, at 771-4200, and Rumpke, at 742-2900.

Finding help
        • Repairing Your Flooded Home, a free, 56-page booklet from FEMA and the Red Cross, is available at 720 Sycamore St., downtown, and at

        • FEMA's hot line for federal assistance: (800) 462-9029. The FEMA Web site is


        • To have gas and electric service restored, call Cinergy, 421-9500. To report a problem with gas: 651-4466. Electric: 651-4182.

        • Cincinnati Bell: residential repair, 566-1511; business, 566-1611; 24-hour help, 565-6090.

        Depending on the temperature in your house, much of the food in your refrigerator will spoil in four to six hours without electricity or ice.

        A full freezer will keep food frozen for two days without power.

        Before examining a water-damaged appliance, unplug it and shut off power at the circuit breaker or fuse box.

        Even if a dried-out appliance works, have it checked by a certified technician.

        If an appliance can be saved, let it dry at least a week. Make sure children can't climb inside.

        If the appliance cannot be saved, remove or cut the power cord so it can't be reused. Remove lids and doors.

        Property owners are responsible for having flood-damaged equipment and appliances inspected. To find qualified professionals, check the Yellow Pages. As a follow-up, call the Greater Cincinnati Better Business Bureau at 421-3015.

        For more information:

        • Whirlpool Consumer Assistance Center, (800) 253-1301.

        • GE Appliance Repair & Service, (800) 432-2737.

        • Sears Appliance Repair, (800) 473-7247.

        To help save and restore paintings, photographs and books, call the American Institute for Conservation of Art Work: (202) 452-9545.


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Adjusters quick to arrive at disaster
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Phones, power out until Sunday
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TV/radio stations had reason to boast
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911 calls reveal confusion, fear