Tips for Dealing with Flood Damage

Although we were spared from Hurricane Harvey, we know many who were not. I wrote this email to a friend who’s mom is overwhelmed with all that must be done when the rain and flooding finally stop. It is in NO WAY a comprehensive list, but it is a starting point. When my mom was flooded last year in the Tax Day Floods, it would have been nice to have a list like this to help us make a game plan so I’m passing it along in the hopes that it might help someone else too.


TIPS FOR DEALING WITH FLOOD DAMAGE

Top Priority
-Call your flood insurance (if you have it) and FEMA (the faster you get an agent, the faster you get your money to buy new stuff)
-Do not turn on electricity until it has been deemed safe by authorities or an electrician
-Once water recedes, open up the walls, rip out the insulation and put fans out to dry the house (this prevents mold growth)
-if carpeted, rip it out ASAP to prevent mold growth
-Do not attempt to start or plug in any appliances – they must be checked out by a professional
-TAKE PICTURES OF EVERYTHING BEFORE YOU THROW IT AWAY (insurance needs this)

Regular Tips
-Things that can’t be washed (like mattresses, rugs, couches, books, etc) or things that absorb water (like drywall and some wood depending on type and how long it was in the water) which have come into contact with flood water must be thrown out. Put them on the curb for heavy trash pick up. Take pictures!
-load up trash bags of clothes/fabric/pillows (anything that can be washed) and send them to friends and family to wash and dry. Using original Pine Sol and hot water in the washer disinfects the clothes.
-Tile floor can usually be cleaned with disinfectant and kept. My mom didn’t have hardwood, but I assume it would have to be removed as it absorbs water
-Make a pile of things that can be cleaned with disinfectant instead of thrown out (ex: pots & pans, plastics, etc – anything that doesn’t absorb water). Set up a disinfecting and drying station or send them with family & friends to be cleaned at their homes and then brought back
-If you decide to use a contractor to rebuild, choose carefully. There are a lot of scammers and half-assers out there. Ask for recommendations from friends and family.

Misc Tips
-This is a marathon, not a sprint. Take time to rest & recharge.
-There are Houston Flood Groups on Facebook that have advice, suggestions, recommendations, etc.
-Don’t be afraid to ask for help. My mom worked for two or three days with me and a handful of friends before she asked for help on Facebook. A huge church group of moms, dads, & teens showed up and finished demo-ing everything in one day – it would have taken us another week without their help.
-You cannot eat anything that grows in soil that has been flooded. You have to wait at least 6 months.

Mostly, stay strong and know that one day it will end and things will be back to normal. The pile on the curb of things that have to be thrown out will be huge, but it’s going to be ok. You will get through this.

Sending you lots of love,
Angelle