My home flooded, Where do we start?
MY HOME FLOODED, WHERE DO I START?
Flood damage is excluded under standard homeowners and renter’s insurance policies. Flood coverage, however, is available as a separate policy from the federal government’s National Flood Insurance. Some homeowners choose not to purchase flood insurance if they are not located in a flood zone. In fact, most homeowner don’t have flood insurance. If you are in a flood zone and have a mortgage on your home, you probably do have flood insurance because most lenders will require it.
The most common flood insurance is offered through the federally regulated program known as the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). It has two policies: one that covers your actual home (building property) and one that covers your personal property. You can purchase one or both.
Facts and Myths about flood insurance
WHAT DOES YOUR FEDERAL FLOOD INSURANCE TYPICAL COVER· Your home and its foundation
· Electrical and plumbing systems
· HVAC equipment like air conditioning, furnaces, and water heaters
· Kitchen appliances, including your refrigerator, stove, and built-ins such as your dishwasher
· Permanently installed carpeting over an unfinished floor
· Permanently installed wallboard, paneling, bookcases, and cabinets
· Window blinds
· Detached garages (limited to 10% of your home policy)
FEMA - WHAT WILL FEMA COVER?If you don’t have flood insurance, once a region has been officially declared a “disaster area” by government authorities, property owners have access to increased resources, including public services to protect and remediate the area. In addition, you may have access to financial assistance. Your insurance company will have additional information on this or you can contact FEMA directly. How to file a claim for a disaster area. FAQ
Individual Disaster Assistance
Transitional Shelter Assistance – FEMA fact sheet
If you have flood insurance FEMA will not cover content and structure but it might help with other things. Go ahead and register with FEMA. They might be able to help with the following:
1. Rental Assistance with limitations
2. Some Home Repairs - FEMA pays for repairs based on the importance of the area/item damaged.
3. Some Personal Property – With limitations.
4. FEMA also pays disaster unemployment assistance to individuals who lost their job because their business or employer was damaged by the disaster and not able to reopen. If the business was open, but employers could not safely report to work, they are not eligible for disaster unemployment assistance. To apply for disaster unemployment assistance, click here.
WHERE TO STARTStart drying the home out ASAP. Use free standing and overhead fans, dehumidifiers and your central AC if possible. Make sure the AC is not clogged with any debris. Consider changing out the filters weekly or biweekly. Restoration company can treat the ducts for mold. It’s always best to get the AC checked before you turn it on.
For more info on how to clean your AC
HOW TO GET STARTED
- If you have flood insurance call your insurance company ASAP. After you initial meeting with the adjuster try to communicate by email there after so you have a paper trail of all communications. Keep records of any calls. How to file a claim
- Register with FEMA regardless if you have flood insurance or not.
- Find assistance
- Make basic repairs right away. Most adjusters will not want you to make repairs before they arrive but if there is something that will continue to cause damage, such as a broken window or roof damage, you should go ahead and patch it up. You can use a tarp to cover the roof and use wood to block the window.
- Document, document, document. Take lots of pictures and video of the damage. Use a tape measure to document the water levels. Go room to room and take pictures from every angle. Open cabinets, drawers, closets, etc. and take photos of the contents inside. If you have access to a moisture meter, use it and take pictures of the reading. Take pictures before and after you make the repairs. Keep receipt of anything you purchase to make these repairs.
- For personal contents, document individual items – take a picture of each individual item you will claim. Number and documented each item for the claim. Be detailed, include serial numbers or any identifying factors. It’s better to have more information then less.
- If you don’t have a home inventory, start making a list of all the items in your home. Take pictures and video. Most insurance companies have apps that will help you take inventory. Here is an example. Don’t throw anything away until you ask your insurance agent.
- You should get your electrical system checked before you turn on the main breaker.
- Get all content out of your home ASAP. Mold can develop within 24 to 48 hours of a flood. Consider hiring a restoration company. Find one here IICRC
- Remediation or restoration companies are helpful but use them wisely. Using them to dry out your home might eat up a large portion on your funds. They will also offer to treat and clean household items. Don’t let them take everything; this will get expensive and some items might not be worth saving.
- Flood water can be contaminated so stay safe, consider wearing respirator, breathing mask, waders, hip-or waist-high waterproof boots. In addition, wear rubber gloves to remove water-damaged possessions and to avoid contaminants. Wash your hands frequently.
- Start getting bids from licensed contractors. Make sure that the bids are details and provide line items for material and labor. Be cautious of out of town contractors showing up after the flood. Check with better business bureau and get everything in writing.
- Call your creditors and ask for help. If you’re a homeowner, even if your home is uninhabitable, you still have a mortgage. Contact your lender to discuss your options.
- FTC Advice for Helping Hurricane Harvey Victims
- If you need to relocate, keep your receipts. Some homeowner’s insurance policies provide coverage for the cost of additional living expenses if your home is damaged by an insured disaster.
TYPICAL TOOLS NEEDED
- Heavy duty trash bags
- Wet vac
- Face masks (N95)
- Paper towels
- Water bottles
- Box fans
- Dust pan
- Mold remover
- Drywall saws
- Power saw
- Pry bars
- Heavy duty trash bags
- Chalk lines
- Dust masks (N95)
- Utility knives
- Safety glasses
- Mold remover
- Four deadly hazards to avoid after the storm
- Never turn power on or off yourself or use an electric tool or appliance while standing in water. If there is standing water in your home, turn off all power. Have an electrician check your home before turning on the power.
- If your home has had standing water for several days, go ahead and open doors and windows and let the home air out for at least 30 minutes before you start working in the home.
- If you are using a gas-powered pump, power washer, generator, etc. indoors, keep all doors and windows open. The lack of ventilation can cause high levels of carbon monoxide in the home.
- Fans should be placed at a window or door to blow the air outwards rather than inwards, so not to spread the mold.
- Remove all Porous, non-cleanable items. This includes but isn’t limited to carpeting and carpet padding, upholstery, wallpaper, drywall, floor and ceiling tiles, insulation material, some clothing, leather, paper, wood, and food.
- Sheetrock should come out at least 2 feet above the water line to prevent creeping mold.
- Save a square of ruined carpet and ruined carpet pad for the insurance to verify replacement value - if you have multiple carpets, save multiple samples.
- Be alert for gas leaks. Use a flashlight to inspect for damage. Don't smoke or use candles, lanterns or open flames unless you are sure that the gas has been turned off and the area has been aired out.
- Be nice to your insurance adjustor. No explanation needed
- Be patient, all flood claims go through the federal government regardless of the insurance company you use. It can take weeks/months to get your funds.
- If you plan to be inside the building for a while or you plan to clean up mold, you should buy an N95 mask at your local home supply store and wear it while in the building. Make certain that you follow instructions on the package for fitting the mask tightly to your face. If you go back into the building for a short time and are not cleaning up mold, you do not need to wear an N95 mask.
- The Texas attorney general has tips on working with contractors. Also disaster scams
- Store small items that go together in a Ziplocs bags and label it accordingly.
- Buy plastic containers for overall storage
- Buy high-quality mold treatment - don’t skimp on this - your restoration company can help. Be cautious of restoration company prices. Some tend to overprice in time of need.
- Consider renting a storage facility for salvaged items
- Go ahead and take everything off the walls because the entire wall will have to be painted.
- If you are taking down blinds, label each blind with the room and window location. If your contractor must repair a window frame the blinds might not fit after the repair. Bag up the brackets and screws that come with the blinds
- You might consider getting your home fumigated by a pest company before returning.
- Don’t use bleach on mold, it will come back
- Throw away any food that got flooded. You can keep glass and metal containers but consider disposing wood and plastic items.
- After the sheetrock has been removed it will take a few days for the home to dry. Before installing new sheetrock, make sure to get a moisture reading. If you are using a restoration company ask them to test every wall and send you pictures.
- Ask for a certificate of mold damage certification
- Use Murphys oil and distilled vinegar on wood furniture. Never mix ammonia and bleach products, as the resulting fumes can be highly toxic.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:Replacing vital documents
Reentering your flooded home - CDC
Flood waters after a disaster - CDC
Mold - EPA
Mold clean up and remediation - CDC
Mold after a disaster - CDC
Flood clean up kit
Cleaning up after a flood
Dry-cleaning & Laundry Institute – What can be salvaged?
Safe Clean up after Hurricane Harvey - CDC
Salvage procedure for wet items
FEMA – Repairing your flooded home
Red Cross – Repairing your flooded home
Please feel to add your tips and suggestions. This is a working list of suggestions.
Ali Palacios, ABR, MCNE, TAHS
Today's Home Realty
Mobile - 832-418-0670
9119 Hwy 6 S #230-116, Missouri City, TX 77459