What to do in the first 24 hours after your home floods

  1. RE411 2015 may first 24 hours after floodCheck for any visible structural damage, such as warping, loosened or cracked foundation elements, cracks, and holes before entering the home and contact utility companies if you suspect damage to water, gas, electric, and sewer lines. Use a flashlight!
  2. Turn off all water and electrical sources. Even if power isn’t operational, turn off all power at the breaker or fuse box so that when power is restored to the area, you don’t risk electrocution. Water + electricity = bad news.
  3. Secure your property so that no additional damage occurs. Put boards over broken windows and secure a tarp as protection if the roof has been damaged. Take photos to prove to the insurance company that you have done everything possible to protect your home against further damage. If the home is habitable, take precautions to keep yourself and your family safe from injury. Use flashlights to move around dark rooms, for example. If the home isn’t habitable, don’t try to stay there. Move to a shelter or alternate location.
  4. Contact your insurance agent or claims department to begin processing a claim. In cases where a flood has affected an entire community, your agent may be busy handling his or her own flood issues, you may experience a delay in getting your claim placed and responded to. Groundwater flood damage typically isn’t covered by homeowners insurance policies, but some specific things may still be covered, so you’ll need to work with your insurer to determine the cause of the flood and the extent of your coverage. Document all conversations, and all work that you must undertake immediately to make your home habitable.
  5. Before you remove anything – water or possessions – or make any repairs, fully document the damage by taking photo or video. Even if you are not fully covered by your homeowners insurance for flood, you will need full documentation for any applications for disaster assistance and income tax deductions.
  6. Begin cleanup immediately – mold can start to grow within 24 to 48 hours.
  7. Pay attention to disaster declarations. Once officially declared a “disaster area” by government authorities, property owners have access to increased resources, including public services to protect and repair the area. In addition, you may have access to financial assistance. Your insurance company will have additional information on this or you can contact FEMA directly. Not all areas that face disaster are officially declared disaster areas.
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