What Can I Do About Flood Damage On My Property?
Flooding can be absolutely devastating. Whether the water comes from increasingly severe hurricanes, rainfall, flash floods, and rising sea levels, a negligent neighbor, or a burst pipe, flooding can totally upend your life. Beyond the trauma and physical harm that flooding can cause, it can also cause significant damage to your home and property. Even beyond the immediate mess and property destruction, once the water clears, you’re often left with much more extensive, longer lasting, and costlier damage. This could include major appliances that may need to be replaced (including washer/dryers, furnaces, water heaters, fridges, and stoves), as well as larger issues that require comprehensive repairs and abatement measures, such as roof, floor, and wall damage, plumbing and electric wiring damage, toxic mold, and structural weakening.In the direct aftermath of a major flooding event, you may be disoriented, scared, and unsure what to do. According to flood experts, your first steps should be as follows:
- Be safe about your return: If you have been evacuated, do not return to your home unless the agency in charge of your evacuation has told you it is safe to do so. Once you return, you should be very careful when entering your home, as there could be dangerous hidden structural damage. You should also make sure the water supply is safe before drinking or making ice with tap water.
- Survey, inventory and document all damages: Go through the house and thoroughly document the damages to both the inside and outside of the house. Do this by taking pictures, videos, and written or recorded notes for reference. If possible, try to get pictures that show the height of the water, the surface area it covered, and any areas that sustained water damage but might now be drying out. You should then make an inventory of all property and items that were damaged or destroyed by the flood. If you live in a flood-prone area, you should try to habitually inventory your belongings from time to time. If you don’t have any pre-existing inventory, list each damaged item and try to recall from memory when they were purchased, where they were purchased, and how much they cost.
- Do all immediate clean-up that you can: After you have extensively documented the damages in your home, you should try to clean up as much of the flood water in your home as you can. Thoroughly disinfect everything that got wet, as flood water is sometimes contaminated with bacteria and other harmful biohazards.
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