After a Flood

If your home, apartment, or business has suffered flood damage, immediately call the agent or company who handles your flood insurance policy. The agent will then submit a loss form to the National Flood Insurance Program. An adjuster will be assigned to inspect your property as soon as possible.

  • Prior to entering a building, check for structural damage. Make sure it is not in danger of collapsing. Turn off any outside gas lines at the meter or tank. If you smell gas, call your utility company immediately.
  • Upon entering the building, do not use an open flame as a source of light since gas may still be trapped inside – use a battery-operated flashlight.
  • Watch for downed electrical wires, Make certain that the main power switch is turned off. Do not turn on any lights or appliances until an electrician has checked the system for short circuits.
  • Cover broken windows and holes in the roof or walls to prevent further weather damage.
  • Proceed with immediate clean-up measures to prevent any health hazards. Perishable items pose a health problem and should be listed and photographed before discarding. Throw out fresh food and medicines that have come in contact with flood waters.
  • Check that your water is safe. Water from faucets for drinking and food preparation and water from showers, tubs and toilets for cleaning and hygiene should be used only if the public water system has been declared safe. In an emergency, water may be obtained by draining a hot water tank or melting ice cubes.
  • Take pictures of the damage to your building and its contents. Refrigerators, sofas and other hard goods should be hosed off and kept for the adjuster’s inspection. Use a household cleanser to clean items to be kept. Any partially damaged items should be dried and aired; the adjuster will make recommendations as to repair or disposal.
  • Take all wooden furniture outdoors to dry, but keep it out of direct sunlight to prevent warping. A garage or carport is a good place for drying. Remove drawers and other moving parts as soon as possible, but do not pry open swollen drawers from the front. Instead, remove the backing and push the drawers out.
  • Shovel out mud while it is still moist to give walls and floors a chance to dry. Once plastered walls have dried, brush off loose dirt. Wash with household cleanser and rinse with clean water; always start at the bottom and work up. Ceilings are done last. Special attention must also be paid to cleaning out heating ducts and plumbing systems.
  • Remove mildew from dry wood. Mildew can be removed from dry wood with a solution of 1 cup liquid chlorine bleach, in 1 gallon of water.
  • Clean metal at once then wipe with a kerosene-soaked cloth. A light coat of oil will prevent iron from rusting. Scour all utensils, and, if necessary, use fine steel wool on unpolished surfaces. Aluminum may be brightened by scrubbing with a solution of vinegar, cream of tartar, and hot water.
  • Quickly separate all laundry items to avoid running colors. Clothing or household fabrics should be allowed to dry (slowly, away from direct heat) before brushing off loose dirt. If you cannot get a professional cleaner, rinse the items in lukewarm water to remove lodged soil. Then wash with mild detergent; rinse and dry in sunlight.
  • Flooded basements should be drained and cleaned carefully. Structural damage will occur if water is pumped out too quickly. After the floodwaters around your property have subsided, begin draining the basement in stages, about one-third of the water volume each day.