When a disaster strikes, such as a flood, your first priority is just to survive. Once the initial danger is over, the chaos and aftermath can make it difficult to determine your first steps. Prepare yourself with these steps to put your life back together after a flood.
Call Your Insurance Agent
If you live in a flood zone, you should check your flood coverage before anything happens. “Water damage” and “flood damage” aren’t the same things in an insurance policy. Normal homeowners insurance will not cover you for flood damage, but coverage through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) will. If you live in an area that isn’t prone to flooding, it is likely you aren’t covered. Either way, after a flood, you should immediately contact a restoration contractor. They can work with your insurance company to find out what needs to be done to recoup as many of your losses as possible.
Determine Whether It Is Safe to Return
Flooding has a tendency to do severe damage to your home, making it dangerous to enter. When infrastructure of your home gets wet, the strength of its materials is compromised. Strong currents from floodwaters put extreme pressure on your home’s foundation, which also threatens its structural integrity.
You’ll also need to be concerned about electricity, gas and debris. Unless your home is completely dry, or you’re sure that the electricity has been turned off at the main, do not enter. You should be aware of possible gas leaks and be careful not to trip over any mud or debris that may have washed into your home.
Mold can be a serious problem once the waters have subsided. Depending on the type of mold, it can cause allergies to flare up or it can be deadly. It is a good idea to have a professional come in to check for mold, as it doesn’t always appear on surfaces. Sometimes it can get inside walls. In most cases, you can see or smell mold, but bringing in a professional to check for the mold and give you an assessment for cleanup can be helpful.
What Can and Cannot Be Salvaged
Many of your belongings such as clothes, furnishings and precious heirlooms may be damaged. You won’t be able to salvage everything. It’s important to take stock of what is worth the attempt and what can be replaced. Anything with a porous surface such as carpeting and furniture should be discarded. It’s not just the dampness you need to worry about, but possible contamination from toxic substances, including that from waste facilities that seeped into the floodwaters.
Items with a non-porous surface, such as glass and plastic can be washed and disinfected. Heirlooms, including books, photos and papers can be placed in zip lock bags and put in the freezer until they can be dealt with.
After suffering a major disaster like a flood, time is of the essence in getting your life back together. Damaged items may be beyond repair after a certain point, mold grows, and claims need to be filed, all of which are time sensitive. Having a plan before disaster strikes will help you meet the challenge of putting your life back together as quickly as possible after a flood.