A flood is a devastating, life-altering event that may have long-reaching effects long after waters have receded. Recovery after any flood is difficult to manage; with endless lists of things to be done, phone calls to make, and people to protect in the aftermath, you must approach it slowly and systematically to ensure that you don’t suffer additional consequences.
Disaster Recovery After Being Displaced
If rising floodwaters around your home cause you and your family to evacuate, it may be tempting to rush back into your neighborhood upon getting the all-clear from local authorities. Resist the urge to head in early, making sure it’s safe to do so before entering your neighborhood–and perhaps your home–once more.
Once you do decide to enter your home, take the following precautions to make sure you stay safe while you assess what your next moves will be:
- Do not allow young children and physically fragile family members to enter the home with you. Provide a care alternative while you assess damages.
- Wear proper protective gear such as boots, eye protection, and heavy gloves.
- Be on the lookout for broken glass, live electric fixtures, and other toxic chemicals that may have gotten into your home.
- Watch for animals that may have used your home as a shelter during the storm.
- Check thoroughly for structural damage before entering your home.
- Wear a respirator to minimize the effects of mold and mildew spores.
- Make sure gas and electricity are turned off, and that nothing is sparking or leaking. Call authorities immediately if you detect a problem.
- Open windows and doors to ventilate your home.
- Remove necessary belongings.
- Craft a plan for clearing debris.
- Call in an insurance assessor to determine the level of damage to your home and provide recommendations for repair.
- Pump out the basement if necessary.
- Do not combine standard cleaning chemicals such as bleach, vinegar, and ammonia, as these may cause toxic fumes to develop in and around your home.
- Craft a plan with family members to manage clean up a little bit at a time.
How Much Damage Can Water Do?
Water is one of the most destructive natural forces Mother Nature throws at us; standing or free-flowing water can cause significant damage to your home if you don’t clean it up properly. If water is inside and circulating throughout your home, you may find yourself with disintegrating sheetrock, warped cabinets and doors, and fried electrical components. Furniture and other upholstery will likely be a total loss, and the presence of mold and mildew that have begun to develop may cause even more damage to your home.
A Word About Mold and Mildew
Mold and mildew tend to develop very quickly after a flood. Breathing in these toxic mold spores can have devastating consequences on your health; if you already struggle with respiratory issues, you should under no circumstances attempt to clean mold and mildew up by yourself. Professional companies exist that can take safe and secure measures to clean these toxic substances up to not do additional damage to you, your family members, and your home.
Take Little Steps Toward Getting Back on Track
As you first survey your home after a devastating event such as a flood, you may become overwhelmed at the number of things you need to do to get back on track. Your mind may likely be racing at the thought of clean-up, caring for family members, assessing and covering the cleanup cost and restoration, and dealing with insurance to cover the loss of your belongings.
This will not be an easy or quick process, but approaching each day with a positive mindset and making small steps toward getting back on track will put you in a better position to handle the challenges that will be a part of this journey for your and your family. Start with the big tasks first, like:
- Ensuring the safety and comfort of your loved ones.
- Collecting personal belongings.
- Calling and navigating insurance coverage.
- Monitoring you and your family for physical and mental health concerns.
Anything else that comes at you will be much more manageable if you take care of these items first. Know that it will take days, weeks, even months to sort everything out, and with time, you’ll see significant changes taking place that give you comfort and hope once more.
Navigating Financial Pieces After a Flood
Few families are completely prepared to handle the financial responsibilities that come with rebuilding after a flood. Knowing how to handle that important aspect of reclaiming your life will be an integral piece of returning to normalcy once more. You have a few options to support you through this time.
Call your homeowner’s insurance company to begin the process of financial recovery. Most homeowner policies will not cover flood damage, and you’re not likely to see full coverage for all your losses from water damage. Flood insurance offers comprehensive coverage for flood events; if you haven’t already done so, invest in a flood insurance policy to protect against future loss and injury.
If you do have flood insurance, call that company as well to procure assistance as you navigate the recovery process. You may be eligible for additional funds to help pay for day-to-day living expenses that you incur as a result of having to relocate; ask your insurance agent for details on Temporary Living Expenses. Keep all receipts and proof of purchase for necessary items, as you may have to turn them in when submitting a claim later.
Government Disaster Programs
If your neighborhood has been declared a disaster area by the governor, the President, or another federal agency, you may be able to receive federal and state assistance. Several federal disaster relief programs exist for just such an event, including:
- State and federal loans.
- Tax forgiveness programs.
- Counseling and rehabilitation programs.
- Financial aid to help floodproof your home.
- Financial assistance for short and long-term housing.
- Assistance for daily living expenses and medical care.
Take advantage of these programs; it is what they were made for, and you deserve to be able to get back on your feet as quickly as possible after such a stressful event.
The Red Cross, Salvation Army, and other volunteer groups stand ready and willing to help in times of disaster. Aid from these groups usually comes in the form of emergency shelter, food, clothing, and medical aid for people who have to relocate out of their homes. Find out from local law enforcement authorities in your area if these volunteer groups are present, and what type of assistance you might expect to receive from them.
The Best Recovery After a Flood Includes Pre-Planning
One of the most important things you can do to ensure a smooth recovery is to procure flood insurance for your home and property. At Neptune Flood, we are in the business of getting you back on your feet and back into a home with minimal loss and cost to you. Contact us for information on a custom flood insurance plan that will give you peace of mind and protection for your family. Visit https://neptuneflood.com for more information.
Original article published November 2018. Updated content and references March 2022.