Problem: Home has suffered
damage from floodwater.
Background: For what to do if a flood is imminent.
Threatens Home). If your
home has been flooded, and you have a flood insurance
policy, immediately call the agent or broker who handled
it. The agent will submit a loss form to the National
Flood Insurance Program and an adjuster will be assigned
to inspect your property. Most standard homeowners
policies do not cover flood loss. Proceed with immediate
cleanup measures after the flood.
Before entering the home, make sure it is not in danger of
collapsing. Turn off any outside gas lines at the meter or
tank, and let the house air for enough time to remove foul
odors or escaping gas.
What to do: When entering a building after a flood,
use a battery flash light instead of an open flame as a
light source because gas may still be trapped inside the
building. Watch for electrical shorts of live wires be
fore making certain that the main power switch is turned
off. Don’t 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. (Take pictures of the
damage done to your home and contents to aid in settling
any insurance claims.) Throw out perishable items that
pose a health problem, as well as any previously opened
medicines that have come in contact with floodwater. Until
the public water system has been declared safe, vigorously
boil water for drinking and preparing foods for 10
Shovel mud out of the building 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 a mild
soap solution, and rinse with clean water. Always start at
the bottom and work up, doing ceilings last. When
cleaning, pay special attention to heating and plumbing
systems. Clean off refrigerators, sofas, and other hard
goods and keep until inspected by an adjuster. Any
partially damaged items should be dried and aired; the
adjuster will make recommendations for repairs or
disposal. Move wooden furniture outdoors, but keep out of
direct sun to prevent warping. Remove drawers and other
moving parts, but do not pry open swollen drawers from the
front; in stead, remove the backing and push the drawers
out. Allow clothing or household fabrics to dry slowly,
away from direct heat.
Special advice: Drain and clean flooded basements
as soon as possible but be aware that structural damage
can occur when water is pumped out too quickly. After the
floodwaters around your property have subsided, begin
draining the basement in stages; drain about a third of
the water volume each day. Mildew can be removed from dry
wood with a solution of 4 to 6 table spoons of trisodium
phosphate (TSP), 1 cup liquid chlorine bleach, and 1
gallon of water. Clean metal, then wipe with a
kerosene-soaked cloth. Use a light coating of oil on iron
to prevent rusting.
Helpful hint: Another
method of disinfecting water for drinking or cooking is to
mix ½ teaspoon of liquid commercial laundry bleach with 2
1/2 gallons of water, and let stand for 5 minutes before
using. The flat taste can be removed by pouring the water
from one container to another, or by adding a pinch of
salt. In an emergency, water may be acquired by draining a
hot water tank or by melting ice cubes.