Repairing Your Flooded Home

Your home and its contents may look beyond hope, but many of your belongings can be restored. If you do things right, your flooded home can be cleaned up, dried out, rebuilt, and reoccupied sooner than you think.
Play it safe. The dangers are not over when the water goes down. Your home's foundation may have been weakened, the electrical system may have shorted out, and floodwaters may have left behind things that could make you sick. When in doubt, throw it out. Don't risk injury or infection.
Ask for help. Many people can do a lot of the clean up and repairs discussed in this book. But if you have technical questions or do not feel comfortable doing something, get professional help. If there is a federal disaster declaration, a telephone "hotline" will often be publicized to provide information about public, private, and voluntary agency programs to help you recover from the flood.
Flood-proof. It is very likely that your home will be flooded again someday. You can save a lot of money by flood-proofing as you repair and rebuild. See Step 8. You should also prepare for the next flood by buying flood insurance and writing a flood response plan.
Step 1. Take Care of Yourself First
Protect yourself and your family from stress, fatigue, and health hazards that follow a flood.

Step 2. Give Your Home First Aid
Once it is safe to go back in, protect your home and contents from further damage.

Step 3. Get Organized
Some things are not worth repairing and some things may be too complicated or expensive for you to do by yourself. A recovery plan can take these things into account and help you make the most of your time and money.

Step 4. Dry Out Your Home
Floodwaters damage materials, leave mud, silt and unknown contaminants, and promote the growth of mildew. You need to dry your home to reduce these hazards and the damage they cause.

Step 5. Restore the Utilities
The rest of your work will be much easier if you have heat, electricity, clean water, and sewage disposal.

Step 6. Clean Up
The walls, floors, closets, shelves, contents and any other flooded parts of your home should be thoroughly washed and disinfected.

Step 7. Check on Financial Assistance
Voluntary agencies, businesses, insurance, and government disaster programs can help you through recovery.

Step 8. Rebuild and Flood-proof
Take your time to rebuild correctly and make improvements that will protect your building from damage by the next flood.

Step 9. Prepare for the Next Flood
Protect yourself from the next flood with flood insurance, a flood response plan, and community flood protection programs. This step also includes sources to go to for additional assistance.

This information is published by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the American Red Cross to help flooded property owners. It is designed to be easily copied. Permission to reproduce all or any section of this material is hereby granted and encouraged.

Hard copies of this information in book form are available by writing:

P. O. Box 2012
Jessup, MD 20794-2012

Production This book was prepared for the Federal Emergency Management Agency under Contract Number EMW-89-C-3024 and EMW-91-K-3738.

FEMA and the American Red Cross gratefully acknowledge the thoughtful assistance provided by the many individuals who reviewed this book. Reviewers included repair and reconstruction contractors, mental health professionals, sociologists, researchers, disaster assistance specialists, insurance experts, underwriters, structural engineers, public health agents, floodplain managers, emergency managers, education specialists, editorial experts, and graphic designers.

Disclaimer The statements and descriptions in this book are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the United States Government, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), or The American Red Cross. The U.S. Government, FEMA, and the American Red Cross make no warranty, expressed or implied, and assume no responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of the information herein.

The information provided is based on careful research and input from experienced professionals. The reader must assume responsibility for adapting this information to local conditions. This book is not intended to replace the advice and guidance of an experienced professional who is able to view a home and assess the needs of the particular situation. In several instances, the reader is advised to contact a professional if he or she is not experienced with technical matters such as building construction and electrical components.

In some cases, brand names are used as examples. Their usage does not imply an endorsement or recommendation for any particular commercial product.


What to do after a flood

What to do after a thunderstorm

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