They still remember what it is like to return to flooded basements, destroyed furniture, and crumpled walls. They still spend weekends rebuilding foundations and putting up drywall. They are the survivors of Hurricane Isabel.
The survivors are not looking forward to this year's hurricane season, but nonetheless, they are getting prepared, and they have advice to offer.
Calling an insurance agent to review your policy is important, says York County resident, Georgette Stelyn, whose home in Seaford was ransacked by the storm.
Stelyn says she knows neighbors who failed to renew and/or review their insurance policies, and found their destroyed homes uninsured in the wake of Hurricane Isabel.
If you have to evacuate, "Make sure you have a copy of your policy and receipts of large investments with you," said Stelyn, who has already put together a few folders in preparation for this season.
Stelyn suggests doing this, "so you can make sure you get the value you purchased an item at and not the value (the insurance company) thinks its worth," in the event that property is destroyed. Otherwise, you are going to have to try to prove the value, says Stelyn, and that is not an easy task.
Stelyn says she lost thousands of dollars in insurance claims because she did not take proper documentation with her when her family evacuated during Isabel.
Mathews resident, Ted Broaderson, is less worried about making claims on the value of ruined furniture.
PROTECT YOUR TREASURES
It's not the high-dollar stuff that people miss after a hurricane hits, says Broaderson, it's the family heirlooms, momentos and photographs. In the event of an evacuation, Broaderson suggests taking all items of sentimental and personal value either with you or to top floors.
"It's bad enough to break your bank account, don't break your heart," says Broaderson, who secured all personal items during Isabel.
Otherwise, "Keep your fingers crossed; it's the best you can do," he says.
MOBILE MEDICINE CABINET
A few miles away, Isle of Wight homeowner Tom Snyder is still shaking off the effects of Isabel.
Snyder owns a cottage that was destroyed during the hurricane, and has yet to be re-equipped with water and electricity.
"Isabel, there is no way you can prepare for something like that," says Snyder.
Though he admits there is no way to adequately prepare for a natural disaster, he says there are some things that can be done to prepare for an evacuation.
Snyder suggests having medications handy in the case that an evacuation order is implemented.
Other than that, he suggests listening closely to local weather forecasts and obeying all advice given by the state emergency department.
For folks like Jack Williamson, coordinator at the Office of Emergency Management in Newport News, preparing for disaster is part of a daily routine.
Williamson suggests residents buy a generator in order to maintain perishable food.
However, for advice regarding the use of generators, Williamson says, "We encourage them to seek the advice of Dominion Power."
BRING THE ESSENTIALS
Williamson also notes that when evacuating, residents should take forms of identification along with them to shelters. Sometimes these IDs will be needed to re-enter a neighborhood following a natural disaster.
According to Williamson, the lack of proper identification proved problematic when residents tried to re-enter homes following Isabel.
Finally, Williamson says the 911 call center was bombarded with non-emergency calls during Isabel. Williamson says the best way to find out information is to call the Newport News Emergency Operations Center hotlines.
The hotline number is: 269-2910.
When a disaster has been declared, an additional line is opened to address individual concerns. That number is 269-2912.