A severe flood can cause tremendous emotional pain, physical hardship, and economic loss. For many flood vicims, it seems like there's no hope. Yet staying calm is key toward recovering from this natural disaster. Once the initial shock has worn off, it's time to assess the damage. Often it’s not as bad as you think. Here's what to do.
If anyone is hurt: Get medical help for anyone who is injured. Be aware that floodwaters are often contaminated. Frequent washing of hands or any other exposed areas will help reduce the risk of infection. If you are bitten by any animal, seek immediate medical attention. Protect yourself from mosquitos with insect repellent.
your home has been damaged: Play
it safe. Just because the water has withdrawn, does not mean it's safe
to go in. The foundation may be weakened, the electrical system could
have shorted out, there could be a gas leak or a plumbing problem, and
floodwaters may have left behind toxins that could make you sick. Get a
professional to evaluate the damage. Call the gas company, an
electrician, a plumber, or a structural engineer to take a look. Your
safety and the safety of your family is always your primary concern.
relief: If the flood in
your area has been declared a federal disaster, a telephone "hotline"
will be set up to provide information on public, private, and volunteer
programs to help you recover. Don’t be shy about asking for help.
an insurance claim: Call
the agent who handles your flood insurance to file a claim. Once it's
been declared safe to re-enter your home, take pictures to facilitate
your claim. Be sure to let the insurance company know how to reach you
in the event you are unable to stay in your home.
with a recovery plan: A
recovery plan can help you make the most of your time and money by
determining what's worth repairing and what isn’t. Start by getting your
utilities back up and running. This will make fixing the rest of your
home a lot easier.
Cleaning up: Upon re-entering your home, a good
rule of thumb to is "when in doubt, throw it out." Don’t risk the
health of your family. Throw away any food that has come in contact with
floodwaters, even canned goods. Boil any water used for drinking and
food preparation until the local authorities declare your water supply
to be safe.
Floodwaters leave behind a lot of mud, silt, and other
contaminants and debris. Begin the cleanup by drying out your home to
prevent the growth of mildew. Next thoroughly clean and disinfect walls
and floors. Books, photos, and personal items can be salvaged using
Prepare for the next flood: Repair and rebuild your home to
make improvement that will protect you from damage in case of another
flood. If you don't have flood insurance, consider taking out a policy.
Chances are if you've been flooded once, it could happen again.