Flood Recovery Tips

Updated: Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The below is a modified/enhance version of a list provided by Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America, Inc. Reproduced here with their approval. It is by no means an exhaustive list.

Do not undertake work, cleanup, repairs concerning which you are in doubt about your knowledge, skills, abilities, etc.

  • The first step is to report the damage to the insurance companies for homeowners and flood, and to wait for the adjuster’s contact.
  • Don’t get rid of any damaged property.
  • Check for structural damage before re-entering the building to avoid being trapped in a collapse. [If there is any doubt, don’t enter! Wait for a professional inspection by a fully qualified (licensed, insured, bonded, etc.) inspector.]
  • Take photos of any floodwater in a home or watermarks on the walls, and save any damaged personal property outside of the building.
  • Keep power off until an electrician has inspected systems for safety. [This includes natural-gas appliances, heaters, etc. If you smell leaking gas, don’t enter. Call a natural-gas-line contractor. Post warning signs. Leave the door open. Do not smoke. Do not start any equipment that could ignite built-up gas.]
  • Boil water for drinking and food preparation until authorities say the water supply is safe. [Rolling boil, 6 minutes minimum]
  • Prevent mold by removing wet contents immediately. Cut a piece of the carpet or hardwoods, but get the rest outside of the home or building.
  • Wear gloves and boots to clean and disinfect.
  • Wet items should be cleaned with a pine-oil cleanser and bleach [follow the directions on the bleach container; proper ventilation is critical], completely dried and monitored for several days for any fungal growth and odors.
  • Contact [the local] floodplain administrator and building department for inspections and assessments of damages before starting rebuilding and for technical assistance with local permitting, codes and standards compliance.
  • [If it gets cold, know this: Power generators, gas grills and charcoal grills—used indoors—can cause carbon monoxide poisoning.]
  • Following disasters of this magnitude [Superstorm Sandy and the like], funds including increased cost of compliance may be available to help with rebuilding on higher or elevated ground to prevent damage in future floods, as well as new building techniques and materials. In addition, FEMA Building Science has just released the Hurricane Sandy Reconstruction Resource List, which offers a summary of publications and resources of best practices for homeowners.

The following is from the Wikipedia:

Flood clean-up safety

Clean-up activities following floods often pose hazards to workers and volunteers involved in the effort. Potential dangers include electrical hazards, carbon monoxide exposure, musculoskeletal hazards, heat or cold stress, motor vehicle-related dangers, fire, drowning, and exposure to hazardous materials.[8] Because flooded disaster sites are unstable, clean-up workers might encounter sharp jagged debris, biological hazards in the flood water, exposed electrical lines, blood or other body fluids, and animal and human remains. In planning for and reacting to flood disasters, managers provide workers with hard hats, goggles, heavy work gloves, life jackets, and watertight boots with steel toes and insoles.[9]