Flood damage to a home can occur with a natural hazard or via a broken water main, and in either case, emergency procedures should be put into effect immediately within the first 48 hours. Most home owner's insurance policies will cover the property for flood damage, however, the home owner is responsible for taking the necessary clean-up steps and making sure the insurance paperwork is in order. In the event of a flood disaster, be sure to keep your recovery checklist handy:
1. Inspect the property for structural damage that could pose a threat to life or limb before entering the home. This includes a partial roof collapse, washed away foundational blocks, and anything else that could render the structure unstable.
2. Contact your electrical, gas and sewage providers to shut off services if the water damage is deemed critical and may interfere with the circuits.
3. Inspect your home during daylight hours only, and use a flashlight rather than the electrical system.
4. Discard all food items, shelved or refrigerated, as they will be contaminated by flood and sewage water.
5. Remove all porous items to mitigate the onset of mold. This includes all carpets, bedding, curtains, clothing, furnishings, etc. Mold can take root within the first 24 to 48 hours, and once it sets in under the floor boards, the house will be off limits for habitation.
6. Contact your insurance provider immediately. Your carrier will need to have a photographic record of the damage, so be sure to get photos of every room at multiple angles. Close-up are helpful for the insurance agents to scrutinize your case, so be sure to zero in on the walls to record the height of the flood waters. The more detailed and accurate your photos are, the faster and more proficiently your case will be handled. In addition, be sure to capture the images in a 360 degree scope of the exterior of the property.
7. If the flood damage was caused by a natural disaster, your insurance provider will put you in touch with FEMA, which may grant you some emergency funding.
8. If your home is not habitable, be sure to remove your most valued items from the property. Simply securing the locks on the doors does not provide adequate protection from looters in a time of regional crisis. Round up your photo albums, keepsakes and high ticket merchandise to protect yourself from theft.
9. When it's time to put your house back in order, use the help of professionals to inspect and repair as necessary. Expert advise is crucial in a disaster situation, as the mixing of some cleaning solutions may prove toxic when exposed to chemical residue after a flood. Homeowners should refrain from using bleach and amonia when scrubbing down walls and floors, as this may produce a deadly cocktail of fumes. Companies that specialize in disaster recovery are trained to detect chemical toxins, and therefore, should be in charge of the initial clean-up.
10. Be sure your property has been inspected for mold and that you have a green light to re-enter the home with people and pets.