Finding Normal After the Disaster - Home

Finding Normal After the Disaster - Home

October 1, 2013 by Staci Giordullo and Lisa Renze-Rhodes

Home is so much more than just four walls and a roof. It’s where your family gathers for the holidays or Sunday dinners. It’s where you enjoy movie and game nights with your kids. It’s where you watch Monday Night Football with your friends or just kick back after a long day at work. It’s a place where you feel safe, warm and dry and it always smells like … well, home.

Imagine what it would be like if you suddenly lost your home and everything in it. Over the course of several months, we followed six Angie’s List member families who experienced such a disaster. Meet the Aulettos, who had to gut the interior and then lift their Jersey shore house 8 feet off the ground to prevent future flooding after Superstorm Sandy. The Albers family lost their house and all of their belongings when a wildfire burned through their Colorado Springs neighborhood. The Cocherell family, along with 28 of their Indianapolis neighbors, had to tear down their home following a man-made explosion that turned their once quiet subdivision into a scene of death and destruction. A Westfield, Ind., family who lost their home to fire after a lightning strike created a surge of energy that ignited a gas line. And finally, two other families who survived EF-4 and EF-5 tornadoes that caused widespread destruction in Oklahoma and Indiana.

While thousands of homeowners fall victim to large-scale storms and disasters each year — in 2012, U.S. insured losses from natural and other catastrophes were the second highest since 1980 — all homeowners face the potential risk of damage from severe weather events like hail, lightning or even flooding. Whatever the cause, losing a house to a disaster of any kind is a traumatic event to endure. How do you begin to rebuild? What steps do you take? How long will it be until everything returns to normal?

Each of these families holds a unique appreciation for what it takes to get back to “normal” after losing their homes, and they share the lessons they learned along the way. From when to file insurance claims to locating debris-removal specialists to finding the best contractors, use their advice so that you’re better prepared, whether it’s for the next bad storm or, heaven forbid, a whole-house disaster.

Six Families on the Road to Recovery

Superstorm Sandy

The Aulettos build up what Superstorm Sandy ripped down.

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Colorado Wildfire

The Albers refuse to let wildfire devastation drive them away.

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Indianapolis Explosion

Richmond Hill family refuses to let blast drive them away.

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Westfield Lightning Fire

Westfield, Ind. family's roots prove stronger than lightning.

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Oklahoma Tornado

Still reeling from an EF-5 tornado, Cohen tries to plan next steps.

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Henryville, Ind. Tornado

Tornado rips small community apart, then brings it together.

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More Resources for Recovering After a Disaster

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