Floods are the most common natural disaster in America. And disaster is the operative word – anyone who has been flooded out of their home will tell you it’s difficult to think of anything worse that could happen. It may take time but, eventually, the water recedes. The next task is getting the house to rights – putting it back the way you want it.
Okay, this is obvious, but in the heat of the moment people do forget, so: have a structural engineer check it’s all right for you to go back into the house. When you’re in there, take photographs of the damage and make a list of everything that’s been damaged and anything you regard as a total loss. Record the value and, wherever you can, the date of purchase and a receipt.
Taking Care of Your Health
This isn’t very pleasant to think about but, any time you’re in contact with flood water, there is the risk that you’re also in touch with sewage and bacteria. Wear protective clothing including rubber boots and gloves. Boil water you’re going to use for cooking, but not with any kind of electrical device until an electrician has inspected your home and declared it safe.
- Food, beverages and medicine that have been exposed to floodwaters
- Absorbent items like mattresses that can’t be cleaned or disinfected.
All hard surfaces – and do it with water as hot as you can bear together with soap or detergent.
Inspect the Walls
If you have plastered walls you’re in luck because, although the electrics will still need careful examination and possibly replacement (and they’ll always need that, no matter what sort of walling you have), the plaster will dry and it won’t get moldy. Once drywall gets wet, the only option is to rip it out and replace it. Which kind do you have?
Is There a Bright Side?
Are there things you always intended to do to the house but somehow never got round to? If so, there’ll never be a better chance than this. In any case, the hard work starts now. Have you filed your insurance claim? (Standard homeowners’ policies don’t cover flood damage, so if you don’t have flood insurance you may not be eligible for help. A location that flooded once can flood again, so maybe this is the time to be changing how you’re insured).
If the flooding is widespread enough for a Major Disaster Declaration to have been made, you may be able to get a federally subsidized disaster loan at low rates to repair your home and cover the cost of temporary housing and day-to-day living expenses.
Look After Yourself, Too
Flooding involves serious personal trauma and it can be some time before anyone who’s been through it is really back to normal. Take care of yourself and your family. Try to arrange little treats. Most of all, internalize the fact that you’re still here. You survived. Let yourself feel good about it.
Being flooded out of your home is a truly awful experience and we can’t reduce the horror you go through at the time. What we can do is help you manage your way through the aftermath so that you reach the best possible outcome in the shortest amount of time. Get in touch – we’re here to help!