A flood happened. Now what? The flood event recovery process is time consuming and overwhelming. The American Red Cross states that floods are among the most frequent and costly natural disaster. They often occur following a hurricane, thawing snow or several days of sustained rain. Flash floods occur suddenly, typically due to rising water along a stream or low-lying area. The American Red Cross and the Insurance Information Institute outline how to stay safe following a flood.

Protecting yourself and your family

  • Let friends and family know you’re safe. The American Red Cross can help you reconnect with family members.
  • Listen to local news or a NOAA Weather Radio for updated information and instructions.
  • If evacuated, return only when authorities say it is safe to do so.
  • Do not enter your home if flood waters are over the first floor.
  • Flood waters may bring poisonous snakes into your home. When walking through your home wear thick shoes and be alert.
  • Do not consume food that has come in contact with flood waters.
  • Beware of fire hazards such as broken gas lines, flooded electrical circuits and flammable or explosive materials coming from upstream.
  • Keep children and pets away from hazardous sites and floodwater.

Once you and your family are safe, it’s time to protect your property and assess the damage.

Protecting your property

  • Inspect your home for damage, especially for cracks in foundations.
  • If your basement has flooded, do not pump it out all at once. Remove about one-third of the water per day. The wet ground surrounding your basement may cause the floors to buckle and the walls to collapse.
  • Water may have weakened walls and ceilings. Be on the lookout for falling walls and plaster.
  • Make temporary repairs. Keep all receipts done for work on your property.
  • Notify your insurance agent or company representative as soon as possible. If you have vacated the premises, make sure your representative knows where to contact you.
  • Take pictures of damaged property and keep notes. Use pictures and inventory lists to help your insurance agent and adjuster assess the damages.
  • Don’t be rushed into signing repair contracts. Deal with reputable contractors. If you’re unsure about a contractor’s credentials, contact your claims adjuster, Better Business Bureau or Chamber of Commerce for referrals. Make sure the contractor you hire is experienced in repair work – not just new construction. Be sure of payment terms and consult your agent or adjuster before you sign any contracts.

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