Our repair bill for Hurricane Isaac: At least $1,500

We’ve emerged from the wrath of Hurricane Isaac in New Orleans. It was nowhere near a Katrina-level disaster but it was still worse than we expected.

The problem with hurricanes is that all of them batter your finances.

I’ve already covered how evacuating for a storm or even riding it out at home can add up.

Well, when the winds and rains have passed, Mother Nature can leave behind some additional bills.

My first estimate of the damage to my home is about $1,500, all of which will come out of my pocket because it’s less than the deductible on homeowners insurance.

And considering we still don’t have electricity and the humidity is slowly rotting our home, the damage may not be over.

My family and I endured Isaac at our home. It began mildly enough but things got worse and worse as Tuesday night went on.

A tree in my neighbor’s yard started banging against a utility pole. It eventually started sparking and within 20 minutes it put on a massive fireworks show just before knocking out power to the whole block.

Trees and power lines down on our street after Hurricane Isaac.

Then the pine trees in our front yard began rubbing against the power line. Every time they touched the lines, sparks shot everywhere and the trees started to catch fire.

It got so bad that when big gusts ripped through, it would throw burning embers all over our house.

Had it not been for the rain, there would have been a serious risk of our house catching fire. It was just one more thing to make us nervous.

Meanwhile, things were smashing against our house. A couple patio roof panels busted loose and started flapping in the wind.

With no lights and power in our neighborhood, you could barely see a thing. You’d look out of the window and see nothing but the silhouettes of trees bending and shaking.

We weren’t exactly sure what was happening. Was the siding starting to come off? Were the shingles coming off the roof? Had anything smashed into our vehicles?

Was the worst just yet to come?

You don’t really know. You just hope that a window doesn’t break or that your roof doesn’t start to leak.

Downed tree in my neighbor's front yard.

Around 3 a.m. the winds got so intense that the mid-section floor of our split level house started shaking. It was the scariest part of the storm and enough to make us move to our first-floor kitchen.

We huddled there until dawn. The wrath of the storm continued on Wednesday but got weaker as the day wore on.

I have to stress how thankful I am that things weren’t worse. Our house did not flood, we don’t have any major damage and we’re all safe and sound.

You don’t think about money during the midst of a disaster but as things start to wind down, you start wondering about the damage and how much it will cost to fix.

We had a leak on one side of the house that sent water pouring down the wall. We might have to gut and replace that.

Then the driving rain sent water under our front door. It found its way underneath our laminate flooring which has already started to buckle. All that flooring will need to be replaced.

A couple of roof panels on our patio are damaged and we lost about a ten foot piece of fence on the side of our house. More expenses.

And this doesn’t include the fact that I’ve lost an entire week of work. It can hurt when you’re self employed and there’s no such thing as paid vacation or sick time.

Again, nothing major compared to the nightmare that some others are facing but we’re still going to have to fork out a few bucks to get things back in order.

Luckily, I’m reasonably handy with tools and so I should be able to do the work myself.

None of this has to be done right now. We could live with the buckling floor for a month or two. The tumbled fence can wait.

My damaged backyard fence.

People say “your insurance can cover it” but many outside of hurricane zones don’t realize that many of us have higher insurance deductibles for hurricanes. Ours is around 3% of the value of our home, more than the cost to repair these problems.

But the biggest issue at the moment isn’t our damage – it’s that we still don’t have power.

It’s not comfortable. We’ve got temps of around 90 degrees and the sky-high humidity has made everything in our house damp.

Our ceramic tile is sweating, papers in my office are getting soggy and we even have condensation building up on furniture. Ten minutes after we take cold showers and get clean, we’re sweating and stinking again.

I charge my cell phone in my truck, I try to get a little work done on my laptop at coffee shops.

It’s just miserable to be home. You sweat, sit in the darkness, live out of ice chests and by candlelight and flashlight. Our 14-month old daughter thought it was fun for a couple of days but she’s now over it.

So you go out to eat, to the store, to anywhere with power and air conditioning. All that costs money and it adds to your bill, the bill of stuff related to the hurricane.

Last night my mother got power so we stayed at her house.

But remember, we made out well in this storm. Yes, this was a good-case scenario.

It’s not even the tip of the iceberg of expenses you could have when a tree goes through your roof or when a storm surge sends 6 feet of water in your home.

Even with insurance, your out-of-pocket expenses could run into the tens of thousands of dollars.

In a good year, you won’t have a single storm. In a bad year, you could be impacted by two or three storms.

And once every decade or two, if not more, you could be whacked a life-changing disaster like Katrina which can be a financial death blow.

This is the financial reality of living in a hurricane zone.

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