Knowing what to do after a flood can help make the recovery process a little easier. Even a small, local flood can be devastating for those involved. Yet, catastrophes tend to bring out the best in people as friends and neighbors help each other out.
It doesn’t take a lot of water, sometimes as little as one or two inches, to severely damage your home and belongings. The deeper the water, the more structural damage, up to and including the roof. You’ll want to begin the cleanup as soon as possible, but don’t return until the authorities allow it.
Call Your Insurance Agent
Notify your insurance agent as soon as possible to get information on submitting a claim and when you’ll be contacted by an adjuster. Find out what services are covered, such as professional cleanup and restoration. You’ll need a complete record of the damage for your insurance company, to apply for disaster assistance (find out if a disaster was officially declared for your area) and for a tax deduction.
You’ll want to take pictures of the inside and outside of the building and damaged items before and during the cleanup. Digital pictures are best since they can be safely stored in the “cloud” and attached to your claim. When you’re resettled in your home, take pictures periodically as part of a home inventory.
You’ll Need Food, Water, Flashlights, Batteries, Household Cleaners and Bleach When You Return Home
- If you have a well, assume the water is contaminated until you have it checked by a well or pump contractor. Many people need professional help to restart and disinfect their wells, but EPA offers a good well how-to for do-it-yourselfers.
- If you have city water, it will be restored as soon as possible.
- Boil water until your water is declared safe.
- Most food left behind will be contaminated. Canned food should still be safe to eat, but don’t open the can until disinfecting the outside. Throw out damaged cans.
- Power will be out, so you’ll need flashlights. Bring as many batteries as you can. Use ONLY battery-powered lights to avoid igniting any flammable material.
- You’ll need a lot of heavy-duty cleaners and bleach.
Don’t Enter Your Home Until it’s Safe
- Wait until the authorities say it’s safe to return.
- Check for structural damage, including cracks in the foundation, walls, windows, and ceilings.
- Look for damaged water or sewer lines.
- Use extreme caution at all times.
- Wear sturdy boots or shoes – cut feet are among the most common injuries.
- Watch for snakes or other unfriendly wildlife.
Turn Off the Power
Even if the power lines are down, make sure that all power is turned off at the main circuit breaker as long as you can reach it without standing in water. Having the power unexpectedly come back on would be extremely dangerous – water and electricity are a deadly combination. Report any broken lines to the power company.
Gas lines should be turned off at the main valve or meter tank. If you smell gas, leave immediately and call the gas company.
There’s no way to sugarcoat the fact that cleanup is long and hard. A broken pipe in an upstairs bathroom can cause a lot of damage, but that’s nothing compared to what a rising river or terrible storm can do.
- First, get the OK from your insurer to begin the cleanup. Find out what resources are available to help you.
- Open all windows to air out the building – mold is already growing and you need fresh air.
- A non-ammonia or pine oil cleaner can be used to help control the growth of mold, followed by a bleach/water disinfectant. FEMA has more information on mold removal.
- Shovel out contaminated mud and then hose down surfaces.
- A sump pump and wet vac can help remove water. Water is heavy – a cubic foot weighs ten pounds.
- Every surface must be cleaned and disinfected. Scrub with a heavy-duty cleaner and then use a solution of 1/4 cup bleach to one gallon of water as a disinfectant.
- Look for anything that can’t be replaced, such as wedding photos and important documents, and try to dry to avoid further damage. Professional restoration can do a lot, but preserve what you can.
- Remove wet carpeting, bedding, drapes, and furniture etc. If it’s been wet less than two days, it might be salvageable. Again, take plenty of before and after photos and keep samples of discarded carpet, wallpaper, drapes and other items for the adjuster.
- Take photos of the water line on wallboard. Poke a hold in the wall at floor level to release any trapped water.
Secure Your Property
Homeowners are responsible for preventing further damage as far as possible, such as boarding up windows or covering a leaking roof with a tarp. Take photos to show what you’ve done to protect your property from further damage.
Neptune Flood offers the flood coverage you need that isn’t covered by your homeowner’s policy. You’ll benefit from: temporary living expenses, replacement costs for your furniture and other lost items, including basement contents, repair, and refill of your pool, detached structures and more. Because of Neptune’s advanced technology and insurance know-how, you’ll save money and receive higher coverage limits.
Contact Neptune Flood today for a quote in three minutes.