What to do now

JONATHON VESELY (in green), Eric Wolverton (gray) and Brad Wolverton (gold) search through debris that Brad said belonged to his aunt and uncle Wednesday morning in Pilger. As families and businesses search through debris there are suggestions on handling the aftermath.

As difficult as the situation may be, Lee Sherry, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension educator in Madison County, offers several suggestions for people recovering from tornado damage.

Take care of yourself and your family first. Make sure your tetanus shot is up to date. Get plenty of fluids, eat right and try to get enough sleep. Talk to your friends and family; it’s the best stress reliever.

Re-enter your property safely only after law-enforcement gives you the OK. Wear clothing appropriate to the task: closed-toe shoes, long pants, leather or work gloves, and  protective eyewear.

Use dust masks/filters to reduce the amount of insulation fibers you might breathe and to protect yourself if you are sensitive to dust or mold. You may want to leave young children with a friend or other family members so that you can clean without worrying about what your child might touch or step on.  

Make sure utilities are turned off or disconnected. Do not enter the area if you smell gas or see downed power lines.

Salvage valuable items first, including:

. Personal identification: birth certificates, driver’s licenses, Social Security cards, marriage licenses, and birth and death certificates

. Insurance information (life, home, car)

. Medical/medication information, including eyeglasses, hearing aids or other items

. Financial records, such as mortgage papers, property deeds, legal contracts, wills, bank account and credit card information, and utility bills

Valuables, such as jewelry, cash and photos

Discard items that cannot be salvaged. Take plenty of heavy-duty garbage bags, or some type of container to transport the garbage to the street. Wheelbarrows, shovels, scoops, brooms, buckets, bushel baskets, hoes and a dolly will be helpful.

Use caution when handling clothing, linens and other textiles contaminated with fiberglass fibers. Fiberglass is a silicate fiber made from very fine strands of glass.

According to the American Lung Association inhaling these fibers can reduce lung functions and cause inflammation in animals and humans.  It can also cause skin, eye and throat irritations.  

Wash items in a bathtub so the fibers go down the drain. Wear rubber gloves to keep the fibers from getting into your fingers.

Or put washable items in a washing machine. Be sure to rinse the drum thoroughly to remove fibers.

Dry clean items that would be damaged by water. Alert the dry cleaner that fiberglass is present.

Vacuum items to help remove fiberglass fibers.

Keep detailed records of extra expenses and business activity during the recover.  Keep receipts.

Make a record of damage and losses; take photos or make video recordings.

Prevent further damage as much as possible and secure items from theft. If your roof has been exposed and the house is still standing, cover the roof to prevent water damage that may occur later.

Contact your insurance agent or company representative.

Here are some Internet addresses of sites that may have helpful additional information:

Impact on children and families


Early Childhood Trauma


Resources for Parents and caregivers


Helping Children cope


Talking with Children when talking gets tough

https://www.extension.purdue.edu/cfs/topics/HD/TalkChildrenTalkGetsTough.pdfchildren stress and Natural Disaster

Understanding the impact of disaster on family and Children


Effective management of stress and crisis


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