Flood Clean-Up Tips and How to Help

This page contains Flood Clean-Up Tips, Tips on How You Can Help and Insurance Tips from people that have dealt with flooded homes before.

Flood Clean-Up Tips:

  • Before you do anything, take pictures of everything and call your insurance agent.
  • Separate you property: your policy may require you to separate damaged property from undamaged property.  Don’t throw anything away before you photograph it and the adjuster has seen it, unless local law requires you to.  In that case, take photos of the property before disposing of it and keep samples for the adjuster to see.  Do all you can to protect undamaged property.  Prior to signing an agreement/contract with a cleaning, remediation, or maintenance contractor, you should consult your flood adjuster or insurance agent concerning coverage.  Make a list of all damaged contents.
  • Wet carpet MUST be removed, along with the underlying pads.  It is saturated in bacteria-filled water.  Keep a sample of each type of carpet and padding you have for the insurance adjuster.
  • Use a utility knife and wear gloves when handling the carpet.  The underside of carpet is very rough and will remove your skin if you handle it without gloves.
  • Expensive rugs can be salvaged via cleaning services
  • Take all carpet and other ruined items to the curb.  I’m sure that the city will begin running trucks around to collect storm ruined items very soon.
  • You probably have a layer of muddy creek gunk in your home.  If so, you will need to hose/squeegee/wet vac it out.  Once you’ve done that, you need to mop the concrete with water containing bleach.
  • If your AC is still operating, keep windows and doors closed as much as possible and your ac on.  That will do more to remove moisture than anything else.
  • Run fans over the concrete to help the AC de-water your home.
  • If you have an older home with spun fiberglass insulation in the outer walls, or open cell and hybrid foam insulation, YOU MUST REMOVE IT.  The spun glass insulation has collapsed into a big spongy mess and will retain the water and breed more bacteria/mold than a swamp. The foam insulations are not a bad, but still breed mold/bacteria. This will involve removing the sheetrock or paneling up to the level of flooding.  YOU DO NOT have to remove sheetrock in the interior walls.  You DO have to remove the baseboards to allow drying.
  • The only insulation that DOES NOT need to be removed is “closed cell” spray foam that is hard to the touch.  It is still a very good idea to remove the sheetrock so you can spray it with a bleach solution and let it dry.
  • Before removing baseboards, use a utility knife to score the paint or caulk at top of the baseboards so you don’t tear the wallboard surface.
  • If wallboard got wet, score with utility knife at the 4 foot mark and make hole in the area below and pull out and also remove all wet insulation, this way it will be easy to replace since sheetrock comes in 4 foot widths.  If water was higher then you will need to gut the entire wall.
  • If your outdoor AC unit is not working, things are much tougher.  You need to get on a repair service waiting list immediately.  You will also need to mop interior walls with a bleach mixture to keep mold from blossoming on them.  Your home will not completely dry out until the AC is working.
  • After working in this environment, you need to take a soapy shower/bath every day and be careful to disinfect any cuts.  This bacteria can make you very sick.  Some people also recommend wearing a filter mask.

Here are some ideas how you can reach out to your flooded friends:

Remember they are going to feel uncomfortable being in such a position of need. It’s painful to go from being self sufficient one day to suddenly not having a pair of shoes with no car to go and buy some new ones. Try to see a need and fill it without asking “what can I do?” Flooded mamas are exhausted and overwhelmed and it’s hard to answer that question. If you are going to help a friend clean out their homes, here are a few items that are helpful to bring:

Cleaning/packing Supplies:
Masks- ventilator
Paper towel
Disposable gloves
lysol/clorox wipes
Cardboard boxes
Packing tape
Hand sanitizer
Mosquito repellent

Water bottles
Fresh fruit and veggies washed and cut up (we’ve all been eating highly processed food out of bags for days)

Ideas for questions to ask:
1. Does everyone in your family have shoes? If not, can I go pick some up? What size?
2. Do you have anyone coming to help you cut out walls? If not, can I call a few water mitigation companies to get quotes for you?
3. Do you have any laundry I can wash?
4. I have hand-me-downs from my kids, what sizes would be helpful?
5. Can I help arrange playdates for your kids?
6. Do you have any medications you would like me to call about getting replaced?
7. I’m making a trip to HEB today, please tell me 3 things I can pickup for you
8. Can I pack a school lunch for your child this week?
9. Is there anywhere I could give you a ride to?
10. I’d like to take you to pickup your rental car. Please call me when it’s available.
11. Please call me when you are ready for a ride home after you drop off your rental car.
Check in with your friend a week or two later. There is a lot of help at the beginning. After a few weeks life goes back to normal for most, but flooded families are still trying to find a new normal and may be moving into apartments or juggling car research before a big purchase, etc.

Insurance Tips

If you haven’t called your insurance agent yet, call as soon as you can.   There are going to be thousands needing assistance and waiting to have adjusters assigned to your claim.   The sooner you call the sooner that you can get an adjustor.

Even if you cannot get to your home to determine the extent of damage, call anyway.   I called the day after Ike hit and it made a difference in how quickly I got assistance.

Also, if you have flood insurance you do not need to wait to clean-up, just take pictures of everything.   Don’t be too quick to throw property away, many things can be saved or restored especially if it has sentimental value. Stephanie Everling is happy to share resources she found after Ike.

FEMA’s flood policy (unlike most homeowners policies) does not cover “loss of use” or “additional living expenses”(Hotel/temporary rental). However the best way to get this assistance is to file a claim for disaster relief. Also people who didn’t have flood insurance may get some relief as well. Don’t hesitate, get to the front of the line! The only caveat I will add is there is no harm in asking your flood claims adjuster for “loss of use” money. Let them decline it or approve it(you never know).

https://www.disasterassistance.gov/ or (800)621-FEMA