Besides the damage to physical property, floods can be very hard on a person's emotions. As such, one of the most important things to do after a flood is take some time to rest and relieve emotional stress. If you've been up all night because of a flood, for example, it's best to avoid rushing right over to your property first thing in the morning to inspect it. Instead, try to get some sleep or at least rest a little first. If you arrive feeling overly fatigued, you may become overwhelmed by the damage.
Gather your insurance papers and contact your insurance company to notify a representative about the flood. Though it may take some time for your insurance company to schedule a visit to your property and assess the damage, notifying the company right away will get the wheels turning, possibly saving you from having to wait a very long time. Also, your insurance company may be able to suggest things you should do, as well as things you should avoid. For example, your insurance company may not want you to throw your damaged property, such as clothing, furniture and electronics, away. Instead, it may suggest that you take pictures of the damaged property or that you allow an insurance representative to view the damage before you dispose of it.
Watch the news or listen to radio reports after a flood. News reports may provide information concerning whether or not it is safe to drink the water in your community, as floods can sometimes cause drinking-water contamination. You may also hear reports about moving water, downed power lines, weakened bridges and other structures that could pose a hazard as you try to return home. Do not attempt to go back to your flooded property until it is safe to do so.
After a flood, it is very important to stay away from any remaining flood waters. It is possible that they will contain things that are hazardous to your health, such as sewage and chemicals. It is also possible that a downed power line or underground electrical source has caused the water to be electrically charged, causing you to be at risk for electrocution. If your building has flood waters around it, you will need to wait until the water recedes completely before you enter.
As you enter a building after a flood, exercise extreme care and be ready to act immediately if the structure begins to seem unsound. There may be hidden damage in a flooded building, especially in the foundation, which could cause the collapse of parts of the structure. When you go inside, you'll need to clean and disinfect the property that got wet if you intend to keep it. This is because floodwater may leave residue of sewage, dirt and potentially hazardous chemicals on your property. Don't forget to clean floors and shelves as well; wear rubber gloves, long sleeves and long pants as you work, keeping your hands and other body parts safe from contaminants.
You'll also need to dry your home out after a flood. By doing so, you can help to reduce the amount of damage mold and mildew can cause. These things thrive in damp conditions, and some types of mold can be hazardous to your health. You can use high-powered fans to help dry your home, and leaving the door open may work as well.
If you've been forced to miss time at work or to stay at a hotel after a flood, you may need some help handling your expenses. Contact government agencies, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and volunteer agencies, like the Red Cross, to see what help is available. Even if you have flood insurance, these organizations may be able to offer you some type of assistance. Likewise, they may be helpful in providing information useful in creating an action plan for repairing your home or other property following a flood.