A flood is a devastating experience that is affecting more and more people today across the United States. The greater Vancouver area has been at risk for flooding several times in the last few years. That danger is only likely to increase with climate change, rising water levels, and wildfires creating massive burn scars that resist absorbing rain and snowfall.
If you have the unfortunate experience of having your home flooded, here are the next steps you should take.
Make Your Safety a Priority
The first thing to remember is that your personal safety and that of your family is your number one concern. If you were forced to evacuate during the flood, never return to your home until authorities tell you it is safe to do so. There could be bacterial contamination or other hazards where the flooding occurred that must be removed before people can reoccupy their properties.
Once you return to your home, make sure all the electrical and gas lines are turned off at the source. Your utility company probably already turned them off. But in case they come back on, you want to prevent the risk of accidental fire or electrical shock, which could be fatal.
Be aware that you may need to wear protective clothing if the water is dirty, which it likely will be, due to sewage, motor oil, and the like. You don’t want to expose your bare skin to floodwater, so wear high rubber boots, gloves, and other gear to shield you as necessary.
Throw away any food that was touched by floodwater, including items in your refrigerator. They could have been contaminated by waste. You will likely have to boil your drinking water from the tap for some time after the flood.
Document the Damage
Before moving or trying to clean anything, document the extent of the damage. You can use your mobile phone and take photos or video of the property. This will help your insurance carrier when filing a claim.
Contact Your Insurance Agent
Speaking of your home insurance, you’ll want to contact your agent as soon as possible after a flood, even if you have NFIP insurance through a federal program. Your agent will assist you with reimbursement for your damaged structure and belongings. They will also tell you if you are in an official “disaster zone,” which may affect your coverage and components like alternative living expenses when your house is inhabitable.
Keep in mind that if you do not have flood insurance, your insurance coverage for a flood is probably minimal. You need a separate flood policy, which must be purchased in advance of any claims.
Begin the Water Removal and Mold Mitigation Process
Once your insurance company has sent an adjuster to inspect the damage in person, you will get the go-ahead from them to start serious water removal and repairs, which may also include making sure there is no mold growing where water seeped into walls and floors.
Depending on the amount of water present, you may need to use a combination of industrial water pumps, fans, buckets, and wet vacs. This can be heavy work, so don’t do more than you’re capable of physically. You may have to engage the help of a professional flood restoration company, especially to help with mold, which can start growing within a day or two of flooding.
Be sure to keep your receipts for any equipment you buy or rent and for any services you hire. You may be eligible for reimbursement through your insurance policy.
Thinking about flood insurance for your property so you’re better protected in case the worst happens? We think that’s a smart idea. Call Davidson & Associates Insurance at 360-514-9550 today or get in touch online to start the conversation.