Hey everyone! We talked with my in-laws about tips for flood recovery, and these are some things they suggested. Having lived through this first hand, they wanted to make sure to pass on things they learned along the way.
The biggest thing to remember is that this is a marathon, not a sprint. Our community will be dealing with this for months and months to come. For a lot of us, life will go back to normal fairly quickly, while our friends will be dealing with this for a year or more. Remember to be there for your neighbor through the duration!
(A little note from my father-in-law: This is what comes to mind right now…additional personal research and consulting among friends and others who are or have been flooded is a very good resource. Important: Deal with reputable contractors, workers, helpers. It is a big job… but one to be planned and taken a day at a time… It can be done and will be. Above all…. trust the Lord; seek His wisdom and guidance all along the way.)
Here are some things to think about!
What To Do After a Flood in Your House
Contact your flood insurance agent
- ask what initial review required before “gutting and tear-out” begins
- make photographs, preferably dated pics, of condition of house now
- open all cabinets, drawers, covered areas to document via photos as much as possible things therein: pots, pans, clothes, etc etc. Photograph all furniture, appliances, essentially all areas of the damaged area (you will later need to make a detailed list of those for insurance and tax purposes)
- ask for any recommendations as to LICENSED and INSURED contractors
- ask for advice about your decision regarding obtaining a contractor or “gutting” professional
- keep all receipts of expenses;
- Contact auto insurance company for flood damage to vehicle
- Also contact FEMA (see below) .. help is sometimes available for insured homes
If NOT Insured contact FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Administration)
- easiest to reach by phone early in morning as soon as their phones are available
- should be plenty of references to and info concerning applications
- apply for (non-taxable) grants
- apply for low-interest personal and small business loans
What do I need to do to file a claim?
As many insureds know, homeowner’s policies do not cover flood damage. If you have a flood insurance policy, contact your agent to start the claim process. Take photos to make sure the damages are documented for the claim. This should be the first step in the process to give the insurance adjuster a first-hand view of what the property looked like.
My car flooded. What do I do now?
If heavy rains left your car soggy, here’s how to handle it:
- Find your vehicle:The city may tow vehicles stranded in high water. To locate your vehicle, visitfindmytowedcar.com.
- Don’t try to start your car.Starting your car can fry the electronics or flood vital engine parts, causing more damage than might otherwise have occurred. Get your car towed to a nearby mechanic who can check it out.
- Contact your insurer. They’ll be able to help you with things like towing, repair and rental, depending on your specific coverage. ( Losses usually covered by comprehensive auto insurance)
- Arrange a rental as soon as possible, if one is needed. In a flood event, you won’t be the only person in need of a rental.
Consult with neighbors, church and other friends, family, etc for recommendations of good, honest contractors.
Obtain license number of any contractor; verify with state contractor licensing board and request info on any positive and/or negative reviews. Ask for website and pictorial review of past work done. If you choose, ask to go see past work. Ask how the contractor operates as to supervision and REVIEW of work in progress. Ask for “scope of work” (itemized quote) when obtaining quote. Commit to a group of items along the way; do not sign an agreement for total project up front. Make deposits on specific items of work: such as: gutting and clean-out and what that includes. such as, insulation and sheetrock replacement; then floating, bedding, priming and preparing for painting, etc.
- allow 6-8 weeks to dry out, using fans and dehumidifiers before beginning any re-building.
- Spray for cleaning and mold: initially Jomax and bleach and water mixture (instructions on Jomax bottle); strong mold killer (online and Home Depot, Lowes, etc) One good mold treatment is SHOCKWAVE available online. (SEE “MOLD” BELOW)
Suggestion: spray mold treatment as you get the walls removed and down to the studs. BUT, also find a reputable company who will come in after you have and apply their mold treatment to entire exposed areas of house (every beam and wood area,etc.) and provide a “Mold Treatment Certificate” …. They will likely not guarantee, but will certify that the house has been treated for mold. Real estate agents suggest that this is not required, but is very good to have when/if the house is up for sale in future. (Check requirements in your area.)
Provide for chargers for phones, cameras, etc.
Supplies and tools for initial gutting and tear-out if you are doing yourself (Google for suggested needed supplies and equipment)
- food, clothes, short-term housing, normal daily needs, flashlights and batteries, lots of bottled water, baby supplies, women’s needs
- boots, gloves, hats, cleaning masks for protection from breathing mold and cleaning materials
- 1-2 dehumidifiers (Sams, Home Depot, Lowes, etc), blower fans
- hammers, pry bars, brooms mops, sheetrock knives, other good quality knives,
water related cleaning supplies (ask for donations, and loan of as many of these as possible from friends, family)
- batteries – various sizes for flashlights, camera, etc
- packing boxes, heavy duty garbage bags
- several long extension cords for tools, fans, etc.
- marking pens, pencils… various tapes for boxes, etc, tape measures
- good quality pump sprayers to spray for mold, general cleaning, etc
Possible sources of tear-out services (not necessarily recommendations)
Servicemaster Restore 866 776 3942
Serve-pro 844 853 7085.
PROBABLY GET RID OF ALL FURNITURE AND FLOORING COVERED BY WATER:
Furniture – What do I do with wood furniture that was under water?
If it’s solid wood and it was removed from the water quickly, there’s a good chance of saving it. Waterlogged solid-wood furniture will dry in four to six weeks. Most finishes, including shellac, will survive if they are not in water more than five or six hours. They can be cleaned with soap and water or Murphy Household Cleaner Oil Soap. If they’ve blistered, they can probably be refinished. The bad news: Furniture made with particle board – even expensive veneered pieces – usually can’t survive sitting in water for a long time.
Refinishing may be expensive – if covered by insurance, I’d get rid of it.. probably also if not.
Floors – Are my wood floors salvageable?
Wood swells when it gets wet and shrinks when it dries. Floors soaked for days will probably have to be replaced. If the water receded quickly, you may be able to replace some boards and refinish the rest. The key is getting the water out quickly. If you can pull up a few boards and use a wet/dry vacuum to suck up the water underneath, then put fans in every room to speed the drying, you may be in luck.
Is it really necessary to pull out wet carpets? Yes,
CLOTHING Can I salvage clothes that were in flood water?
Yes, but speed is critical to prevent fading and mildew. And be aware that floodwaters can contain sewage and other harmful materials. Wear protective gloves to handle wet clothing, and separate washable garments from those that must be dry-cleaned. Do not store wet clothing in plastic bags. Wring as much water from garments as possible and hang them in well-ventilated areas to dry. Rinse washable, like-colored garments several times in cold water to dilute the soil. Soak heavily soiled items overnight in cold water and liquid detergent following initial rinses. Then begin the “real” washing and disinfecting to kill harmful bacteria. Disinfectants include chlorine bleach (2 tablespoons per washer load will be effective), quaternary ammonium compounds and pine oil phenolic compounds, all of which are available under various brand names at grocery stores. Washable garments with water-based stains need to be cleaned with water-based detergents. Remove oily stains with solvent dry-cleaning solutions. Some oily, petroleum-based stains are more easily removed with liquid detergents than with powdered products. Rust removers may be used on washable clothing for rust stains. Some laundries will accept wet washable garments for washing, but it’s best to call ahead.
How can I prevent mold from forming?
Get to work right away. Even if just an inch or two of water entered an area, the potential for mold must be addressed. It only takes 48 hours for mold to germinate. Dry everything quickly. For severe moisture problems, use fans and dehumidifiers and move wet items away from walls and off floors. Clean all hard surfaces with a detergent solution and hot water. Use a stiff brush or cleaning pad on block walls or uneven surfaces. Rinse them clean with water. Disinfect with a mild bleach solution; about 1 cup bleach per gallon of water. When disinfecting a large area, make sure the entire surface gets treated. Avoid excessive amounts of runoff or standing bleach. Don’t rinse or wipe up the bleach. Let it dry naturally.
Caution: Never mix bleach with ammonia – the fumes are toxic.
If the odor doesn’t go away, try the wash-rinse-dry process again. If that doesn’t work, contact a licensed contractor for professional cleanup. If you can’t get rid of the mold, consider removing the contaminated surface. Remove all drywall to at least 12 inches above the high water mark. Save a sample of the contaminated surface and store it outdoors until insurance adjusters arrive.
I hope this is helpful for you, and your neighbors as we rebuild our community!
We are Katy/Houston Strong!