Here's some advice I would give others whose home is damaged in a natural disaster:

Leave the house and property as soon as possible, and call emergency services to check the safety of the house and gas and electrical lines. Don't do what I did and walk around snapping pictures. Photo documentation is important, but it can wait. Just get out.

Call your insurance company and document what happened. Consider hiring a private adjuster to advocate for you and make all the required phone calls. (The process can become a second full-time job.) Make sure the adjuster is licensed and reputable and be clear on the commission.

If you're able to factor in funds for a designer for the rebuild, hire one. Otherwise, brace yourself for an overwhelming number of rebuild decisions: flooring, fixtures, and finishes, for instance.

If you don't already know a contractor, seek recommendations from friends who have done renovations.

Try to be patient, but also assertive — and firm.

The house belonging to Courtenay Harris Bond and Jeffrey Bond is secured and awaiting reconstruction in Bala Cynwyd.
MAGGIE LOESCH / Staff Photographer
The house belonging to Courtenay Harris Bond and Jeffrey Bond is secured and awaiting reconstruction in Bala Cynwyd.