What to do When Your Home Floods
When the weather brings heavy rains and flooding, homeownership can become much more complicated. The severity of a flood, whether from natural causes or a home water system malfunction, determines how much repair will be necessary and can greatly affect all aspects of your residence. Here’s what you should do within the days following flooding to expedite the process of repairs.
WITHIN 24 HOURS
Call your insurance agent and file a claim immediately. Even if you haven’t been back to see what or if any damage has been done, this is essential. Natural disasters aren’t one isolated incident, so there will likely be many claims coming in at once and only so much manpower to take care of them. If you don’t call right away, it might be weeks before they can get an adjuster out to survey the damage and you can always cancel the claim later.
Take pictures of everything. The water line on the walls, inside and out with a ruler in the shot to prove the amount of damage and pictures of any personal contents that may have been damaged. Keeping these on hand will help when it comes to your insurance claim and will be beneficial to have when selling your home in the future.
Find out if you’re in a disaster area. Once a region has been named a disaster area by the government, homeowners have access to even more resources to help with protection in the aftermath of the flood. You may have increased access to financial assistance as well—Just ask your insurance company or reach out to FEMA directly.
Ask your insurance company how you can mitigate damage. You want to be sure you can make changes to your home before starting to tear out sheetrock. The insurance company might allow you to remove some of the sheetrock and set up fans or dehumidifiers to prevent mold behind the walls. They will tell you what they allow and what you need to do to document the damage.
IN THE WEEKS AFTER
Hire a public adjuster to represent you. If you are having difficulty with the flood insurance company, hire a public adjuster to represent you.
Secure the property. Put boards over broken windows, utilize tarps to prevent leaks from the roof and secure the property to lessen the chance of any extra damage.
Find alternate housing. If your home isn’t habitable, try to stay elsewhere. You can contact your insurance company to see if they have any resources for temporary housing until your home is repaired.
Prevent mold where possible. Mold can develop in as little as 24 hours after a flood. Removing wet contents—such as carpet, rugs and bedding— will help mitigate mold. If a textile has been wet for over 48 hours, it’s best to remove it from the home.
Protect your health. Even if the water in your home is running clear, you never know what chemicals could be contaminating it. Wear rubber gloves when removing damaged possessions, throw away food that came in contact with floodwater and boil water until local authorities tell you it’s safe.