A flood can be an overwhelming experience. This guide can help you navigate next steps safely.

Experiencing a flood is devastating for homeowners. Not only is the damage expensive and extensive, but floodwaters can make an area dangerous.

How can you ensure your family is safe to return home after a flood? These five pointers can help you build a plan of action to get repairs underway and get back on your feet after a disaster.

Please remember: Don’t return to your home if the evacuation order is still in effect. Wait until authorities give the all-clear before you head back.

1. Figure out if you’re in a disaster area

If your region is considered a disaster area, you will have access to more resources to help accelerate your hazard-free move in. This may include access to financial services, FEMA services, and public services to help shoulder the cost of flood repairs and cleanup.

You must have flood insurance in place before your home experienced a flood to draw on your coverage. This protection is the difference between resuming your life as quickly as possible and struggling to make the expensive repairs needed to make your home habitable again.

Standard home insurance does not provide flood coverage. Most insurers sell this coverage as a separate policy (which is also the case with Kin). If you live in a flood-prone area like Florida or Texas, consider getting this coverage as soon as possible. Don’t wait until after a flood has occurred – your coverage can’t retroactively cover flood damage.

Payouts for severe damage can take up to six months, so it’s best to call your insurance company as soon as you know you will need to make a flood claim.

3. Survey the water damage

Note: Don’t wade or swim through standing water. If your home has standing water, make accommodations to stay elsewhere until the home is drained and accessible.

Once the home is safe to survey, assess the damage. For example, these issues are common after a home is flooded:

  • Cracked foundation
  • Jammed windows and doors
  • Soaked insulation
  • Weak drywall
  • Wrecked electrical systems
  • Ruined appliances and furniture
  • Moldy carpet
  • Warped wooden floors

Some of these issues may be hard to spot on your own, such as the foundation and insulation. However, take notes of the problems you can easily spot without putting yourself in harm’s way. Stay away from the electric (you’ll want to leave that to a professional), but do note which outlets were underwater – they will need to be replaced.

If you encounter black mold, document it and then call a professional to get it removed right away.

Also be aware that infestations are common after a flood (like snakes – yikes!). Wear rubber gloves and boots while you survey the damage and keep an eye out for unwelcome critters.

Lastly, ensure water coming from your faucets is not toxic. Your utility company can confirm when the water is safe again. Until then, boil water before drinking.

Cracks in the foundation can cause gas leaks and other issues. As a precaution, have your gas supplier shut off the gas until the property has been investigated for leaks.

Your water supplier can also let you know when the water is safe to consume again.

5. Document the damage

Before you start repairs, document the damage that has been done to your home. Take pictures or use video to document what will need to be replaced. This will help you make the case for maximum coverage for your lost items.

During a crisis, it’s important to have a plan to avoid further danger or losses. Make sure good insurance coverage is part of that plan. Be sure to go over your recovery plan with your family so they know what to expect after a disaster.

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