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Nearly a quarter of a million Americans are displaced each year due to heavy rain and flooding. If you happen to live in an area of the country prone to heavy rain and flooding, you’ll want to know how to protect yourself, your home, and your loved ones from harm while moving to higher ground.

Dealing with a flooded home is one of the worst things that a homeowner can experience. Not only may you have to leave precious belongings behind as you search for safer ground, but you might also end up returning to a total loss. Dealing with insurance claims and disposing of ruined possessions can be an emotionally draining process. While it’s impossible to predict what Mother Nature might throw at you during peak flooding season, there are some things you can do to make a potential disaster a bit smoother. Take these tips to heart as you prepare yourself and your family for future flooding events:

1. Know the level of risk in your geographical area

Knowing what your level of risk is for flooding will allow you to prepare for what may lie ahead. FEMA disaster documentation has records on flood zones, including annual rainfall, incidents of flooding, and what type of damages were incurred in these areas. Knowing what your geographical location has experienced historically will give you a good idea of how you need to plan and prep for the coming rainy season. FEMA maps may be outdated. Just because FEMA doesn’t show you property in a medium or high-risk flood zone doesn’t mean you are safe from flooding.

2. Evacuate if necessary

As much as you may not want to leave everyone behind, it may be necessary to ensure your safety and that of your loved ones. Follow local and state mandates for flooding in your area and seek shelter as soon as possible after a watch or warning has been issued.

3. Have valuables in a safe place

Valuables such as important papers, wallets, jewelry, and medical supplies should all be packed and in a safe location, ready to grab at a moment’s notice. Pack these materials in waterproof containers and ensure that they travel with you if you need to evacuate. For those items you are not able to pack during evacuation, place in the highest space of your home that is safe to do so.

4. Consider taking pictures for documentation

If you live in an area that is prone to disastrous flooding, it would be an excellent idea to walk through your home and take pictures of furniture and other valuables. This documentation may prove to be significant in getting your possessions repaired or replaced by your insurance company. Keep these photos where your valuables are stored and consider giving copies to your insurance company for safekeeping.

5. Upon evacuation, turn off utilities

A common mistake homeowners make when evacuating their homes is failing to turn off utilities such as gas, water, and electricity. Even if your area is experiencing gas and power outages, it will be necessary to cut off supply to your home to protect its structural integrity. Returning to a damaged home that may be structurally unsound puts you and your loved ones at greater risk for harm; make sure that these utilities are shut off before you leave your home.

6. Promptly clean what you can

If you are allowed to return to your home to gather belongings or begin the process of clean up, attend to these tasks immediately to prevent further damage to your home and belongings. One of the most potentially hazardous aftereffects of flooding is the development of mold and mildew, which can have significant consequences to your home and your health. If you are filing an insurance claim, it is important to not throw any items away so an insurance adjuster can evaluate the damaged items. If this process is too big for you to handle, consider calling a professional flood clean-up company to guide you through the process of repair and restoration.

7. Find ways to increase airflow to dry out

If you can clean up and restore parts or all your home, you must find a way to increase airflow in and around the structure to prevent the growth of mold and mildew. Bringing in extra fans, opening windows and doors, and bringing things out into the sunshine will help to facilitate the drying process and perhaps allow you to salvage more than you’d anticipated.

8. Call in an assessor to determine if your home is structurally sound

If you have any questions about whether your home is still considered inhabitable, call for a professional assessment of its structure. A professional assessor/contractor will give you their expert opinion on whether your house can be salvaged, or if it will be time to call your insurance company for a loss report. The sooner you can do this, the better; there will likely be others in line that will need the same services in your area.

9. Be proactive; consider purchasing flood insurance

All areas have some risk of flooding, therefore purchasing flood insurance is a must. Flood insurance can give you peace of mind when you need it most. During a time when you are faced with grief, loss, and then need to rebuild, the last thing that you want to be concerned with is how to finance your needs.

Neptune Flood is ready to provide you with customized insurance plans that cater to your needs, your budget, and your life. Don’t face an uncertain future at the hands of Mother Nature’s destruction; let Neptune Flood Insurance help you plan to rebuild with less stress and more possibility. Contact us today for a comprehensive quote, and look forward to a better life, no matter what chaos may come your way.

Original article published July 2018. Updated content and references February 2022.