What the storm leaves behind

Writer: Derrick Shaw
Published: Updated:

The Priorities

  • Pump or bail water out of the house as soon as possible.
  • Open the windows to let the house air out and give the walls and floors a chance to dry.
  • Shovel mud out before it can dry, then scrub floors and walls with a brush and mild soap and water.
  • Make sure all appliances are unplugged as a general safety precaution.

Storm Debris

  • It will be necessary to separate your curb side trash. Cleanup debris will be accepted by priority. As soon as roads are cleared, raw garbage such as animal, fruit or vegetable waste will be collected.
  • The second priority will be normal household garbage including food waste.
  • The third priority is yard waste. Place trees, branches and the like in piles that can be easily managed by collection personnel.
  • And finally, the last priority will be construction debris such as lumber, roofing, concrete and similar materials. Your county may accept food waste at the Waste Management facility. Contact the facility for drop-off hours.


Debris Removal Information:

  • Charlotte: 941-575-3600
  • Collier: 239-252-2380
  • DeSoto: 863-993-4831
  • Glades: 863-946-6020
  • Hendry: 863-612-4700
  • Lee: 239-533-8000


As soon as the hurricane ends, looting can begin. With walls and more blown away – and since many homes belong to snowbirds summering up north – homes become easy targets.

The fear of looting is widespread within the community and many residents stay in their damaged homes to protect their valuables. However, it is important to note that incidences of crime are actually statistically lower after a disaster. A curfew may be enacted for several nights to combat theft and vandalism.

Pool Care

  • Remove as much debris by hand as possible and lower the water level to normal.
  • Add a chlorinator, as in the form of the 10 percent hypochlorite granules commonly known as shock. Super chlorinate again and clean the filter frequently until the pool is back to normal.
  • Have the gas company reconnect the heater line. If your pool needs structural repairs, choose a contractor carefully.


Stoves & Ovens:

  • Clean the outside with a grease cutter, then with detergent and water.
  • Clean the inside with conventional oven cleaner.

Refrigerators & Freezers:

  • To remove odors, wash the inside and the plastic door gasket with detergent and water.
  • Rinse with a cloth and clear water. Wipe dry.

Washers & Dryers:

  • Pour a disinfectant into the empty washer. Run a 15-minute cycle using the hot water setting.
  • Unplug the dryer and wipe the drum and dryer door with a cloth dipped in disinfectant solution.
  • Rinse with a cloth dipped in clear water.
  • Leave the dryer door open until all parts are dry, preferably overnight.
  • Leave the dishwasher door open until all parts are dry.

Books & Papers:

  • Place books on end with leaves separated. When they are partially dry, pile and press books. Alternate drying and pressing until thoroughly dry.
  • If books and papers are very damp, sprinkle some cornstarch between the pages to absorb moisture. Leave on for several hours, then brush off.
  • When papers and books are almost dry, try using an electric iron set on low heat to flatten the pages.
  • Separate the pages to prevent musty odors.
  • When books are completely dry, close them and clamp them closed to help them retain their shape.
  • Photocopy important papers because they may quickly disintegrate, even if they have dried out.

Generator Hazards

  • From 1999 to 2010, nearly 600 generator-related carbon monoxide deaths have been reported.
  • Be sure to read the owner’s manual and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations!
  • Do NOT use a generator until it is properly grounded.
  • Plug devices directly into the generator. NEVER “back feed” your house circuits or connect your generator to your house wiring. Do NOT overload the generator capacity.
  • BE AWARE OF CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING. Never use a generator indoors, outside under a window, on a covered patio, or in any space without adequate ventilation.
  • Keep flammable items away. The generator exhaust system is very hot.
  • NEVER refuel your generator inside your home or while it is hot. A serious fire could result.
  • Prevent electric shock. Do NOT use in wet areas.
  • Check all electrical cords to be sure the insulation is in good condition and check the oil and fuel level before starting motor.

Copyright ©2023 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.