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Flood Recovery The First Steps

Flood Recovery Steps

The following will be a general list of the next steps that need to be followed for flood recovery.  ALL of which need to be followed regardless of whether or not you have flood insurance.  The most import of all of these steps is following the SPECIFIC FEMA protocol for flood water clean-up.  AGAIN it is the SAME protocol regardless of your insurance situation and is of EXTREME importance to ensure the safety of yourself, your family and those that will be working on your home (volunteer or professional).  As a side bar, for those with insurance, these steps/protocol must be followed and documented to be adequately reimbursed by FEMA for flood water mitigation. If you have flood insurance and do any of this yourself, you are doing yourself a disservice.  Also, there is NO exact science or script that covers every house, there are too many variables at play and each house should be evaluated based on depth of flood water, how long flood waters remained in the home and how long the home sat prior to the remediation work starting.  Homes that haven’t been entered or touched after 10-14 days will have EXTREME microbial growth and will need to be treated/handled much differently than a home that received water and the remediation process was started the next day.  The other IMPORTANT distinction to make is that flood water is MUCH different than any other type of water that could damage your home, thus the clean-up and mitigation process is much different.  Flood water is Category 3 water (technical term for black water or sewage water) and requires special clean-up.  If on a normal day, your dishwasher were to leak and damage your home, the mitigation would be handled differently and the majority of the items in your home would just need to be dried out as opposed to thrown in the trash.  The issue at hand isn’t moisture removal (that would be easy), the REAL issue is the disinfecting of all surfaces that are trapped and hidden to ensure that all bacteria and microbial growth are remediated. Regardless, there are steps that still need to be followed,

Steps for Flood Recovery

  1. Call and register with FEMA and get a FEMA case number

    – If you have insurance through the NFIP, call them (or your agent) first and get an insurance claim number.  FEMA will want this at some point.


    – The FIRST step after your home has been flooded and you need flood recovery is to have someone go in, in the appropriate PPE (personal protective equipment) and do what FEMA refers to as a “chemical rinse”. This means that you wear a face mask (preferably a respirator, goggles and protective clothing/footwear) and enter the home.  Once inside you spray a mist of antimicrobial treatment (using a compressed air sprayer and a chemical called Microban or similar product)  on EVERYTHING from 2’ above the water line down across the floor.  This includes ALL contents and personal effects as well as the wall and floor surfaces.  This is the ABSOLUTE MOST IMPORTANT step of all to ensure the safety of those who will be working in your home.  This is a fairly inexpensive process and can be done for less than $100 including the cost of the sprayer, mask, and chemical.  Performing this eliminates 90% of the bacteria and nasty stuff that is contained in flood water. 


    – This next step is of equal importance on the financial side. You must have proof of the items that were damaged.  Take photos of EVERYTHING! And video too.  You absolutely cannot have enough.  You need models/serial numbers of appliances as well as personal contents items that get thrown away.  You need photos of the water line in EACH room as well as photos of the room itself from two different angles.  Take picture of each item that you plan to claim on insurance. You also need to document and save a sample of flooring (wood and/or carpet) for submission to an independent testing laboratory (insurance pays for this) to ensure that you are given the correct $ for the replacement materials.


    – This is something that insurance does not pay for, but that still has to be done. This is where lots of folks need some volunteer help (especially the elderly). The first step is to identify, mark, document and/or collect all the personal affects that you would like to keep and remove them from the home.  Most will still need to be cleaned and disinfected.  DO NOT plan on saving anything that was touched by flood waters, there are a few exceptions but set the expectation NOW.  Non-porous items (china, jewelry, guns, etc.) can be salvaged as well as items that were not touched by flood waters (clothes in tops of closets, etc.) but will still need to be disinfected.  Washer/dryer and refrigerators are considered personal items and will need to be documented and claimed on your contents coverage.  Other appliances (dishwashers, ovens, ranges, cooktops, built-in microwaves, etc.) will be documented and claimed on the structural portion of the claim.

  5. Now that you have read the first steps to flood recovery, find out what comes next.

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