Flood Disaster Tips
After the Flood Basics
There are some steps you should take if your home has suffered flood damage:
Beware of structural damage before re-entering your home as well as other hazards within your home.
Have your policy number, a list of damaged or lost items, along with photos of damaged property ready to file your flood insurance claim with your agent.
Ensure you take the proper steps to clean up flood damage.
Beware of Hazards
Check for structural damage before re-entering your home. Contact the appropriate professionals immediately if you suspect damage to water, gas, electric, and sewer lines.
Throw away food that has come in contact with floodwaters. Boil water until authorities declare the water supply safe to drink.
File your Flood Insurance Claim
Call the insurance agent who handles your flood insurance to file a claim. Have the following information with you when you place your call:
- The name of your insurance company (your agent may write policies for more than one company);
- Your policy number; and
- A telephone number/email address where you can be reached.
Take photos of any water in the house and damaged personal property. If necessary, place these items outside the home. Your adjuster will need evidence of the damage and damaged items (e.g., cut swatches from carpeting) to prepare your repair estimate.
Make a list of damaged or lost items and include their age and value where possible. If possible, supply receipts for those lost items to the adjuster. Officials may require disposal of damaged items. If so, keep a swatch or other sample of the items for the adjuster.
Prevent mold and remove wet contents immediately. Wet carpeting, furniture, bedding, and any other items holding moisture or water inside the building can develop mold within 24 to 48 hours.
If an item has been wet for less than 48 hours, help control mold growth by cleaning with a phenolic or pine-oil cleaner (non-ammonia detergent, soap or commercial cleaner) and disinfecting with a 10 percent bleach solution (1-1/2 cups of bleach in a gallon of water). Items should then be completely dried and monitored for several days for any fungal growth and odors. If any mold develops, throw the item away.
Thoroughly dry out the building’s interior. Portable dehumidifiers are useful, and rental costs may be covered under your flood policy. An air conditioner can also be used to start the drying-out process.
If the walls are damaged, take photographs of the baseboard. Then remove the baseboard. Knock small holes at floor level in the drywall, between the wall studs. This will permit moisture trapped behind the drywall to seep out and start drying.
Have your furnace checked for damage. Your water heater may work, but if the floodwater covered part or the entire tank, the insulation between the walls may be damaged. Obtain an estimate to replace the damaged furnace and water heater.
Contact your local building inspections, planning, or county clerk’s office to get more information on local building requirements before repairing your building. If you can’t find a local contact, call your state NFIP coordinator. Contact information can be found at floods.org/statepocs/stcoor.asp.
Do not approach wild animals that take refuge in your home. Wild animals often seek refuge from floodwaters on upper levels of homes and have been known to remain after water recedes. Call your local animal control office or wildlife resource office to handle the situation
Tips to Reduce Your Risk in the Future
Make sure you have the right insurance coverage: Most homeowners insurance polices do not cover flood damage, so be sure to consider flood insurance for both your building and its contents. The average flood insurance policy premium is around $650 a year. In moderate- to low-risk areas, qualifying homeowners can insure their properties with lower-cost Preferred Risk Policies (PRPs) that start at $129 a year. There typically is a 30-day wait for a flood insurance policy to take effect.
Mitigate future loss: There are some simple steps you can take to reduce the impact of flood water on your home and your belongings. Contact The Flood Risk Evaluator Team of Certified Floodplain Managers, www.yourfloodrisk.com, they can help to assist you with steps to take in order to ensure that your structure is in compliance with local and federal guidelines as well as safe for living.
Conduct a household inventory: Be sure to keep a record of all major household items and valuables. These documents are critically important when filing insurance claims.
Protect important financial documents: Store copies of irreplaceable documents (such as birth certificates, passports, etc.) in a safe, dry place. Keep originals in a safe deposit box.
Build an emergency supply kit: Food, bottled water, first aid supplies, medicines, and a battery-operated radio should be ready to go when you are.
Plan for evacuation: Plan and practice a flood evacuation route. Ask someone out of state to be your “family contact” in an emergency, and make sure everyone knows the contact’s address and phone number.
Make a pet plan: Many shelters do not allow pets. Make plans now on what to do with your pets should you be required to evacuate your residence.