Flood Recovery can be difficult to navigate. There seems to be no shortage of things to do and a shortage of resources available to do them with. With proper preparation, flood recovery is made easier (see our other pages for tips on how to prepare) and we continue in that vein by providing a short guide on key areas to be mindful of in your recovery stage.
- Self Care and Family Care
This is critical to any recovery effort. You and your loved ones must feel comfortable and healthy, especially after such a potentially traumatic event. Be open with your family about your problems, concerns, and discuss the path to recovery in a collective forum. Keep a good diet and rest regularly, and set achievable but easy to manage tasks. This will help to avoid stress and, should you or anyone else feel stressed, do seek help where you can.
- Stay Healthy
Floodwater can be hugely contaminated so staying vigilant will go a long way in maintaining your health. This is especially true for the elderly, children, infirmed and pregnant persons. Make sure to wash your hands with clean water and soap often and disinfect everything that the flood has touched. Confirm with the authorities that pipeborne water is clean and safe to use before drinking, cooking or bathing.
- Be cautious when returning home
Although flood water may have subsided and you have been given the all clear, it is still a good idea to cautiously re-settle into your home. Flooding can cause damages to the structure of the home that may not be perceptible to the eye of someone inexperienced.Check your home before you re-enter and, if you haven’t done so before leaving, turn off the electricity and gas supplies. Begin to ventilate the home, remove debris and conduct inspections for any holes, damaged floors and pipes. If there has been an all clear to use pipe-borne water, it may be a good idea to wash down already flooded (impermeable) surfaces with cleaner water from a hose to remove contaminants. Do not attempt to restore or clean permeable surfaces such as fabric couches and other furniture which have been damaged by flooding. Disposal may be the safest option to avoid illness and mal-odors.
- Contact your insurance and document claims
If you have flood insurance, begin to list the damage incurred (and document with photographs and videos as well) and make sure to include costs of structural damage which may not be as easy to quantify without a qualified surveyor. Plan your financial budget for recovery once it is safe to start the recovery process and prioritize areas that are most in need of work. You can reach out to financial agencies in the event you need assistance in paying for repairs. Government and private financial, material or physical assistance (including volunteers) may be a possibility and worth looking into.
- Dry out your home
Flooding will affect your home in three main ways- direct water damage to materials such as wood and electrical parts, mud/contaminant damage to surfaces, and moisture in materials facilitating mold and mildew growth.Lower your humidity by ventilating the house and using fans, dehumidifiers and desiccants to reduce the amount of moisture in the air. Sort what can be salvaged and thoroughly disinfect and dry these. Discard what cannot be salvaged and replace if necessary.
- Restore Utilities
Contact a professional to ensure that your utilities (gas, water, electricity) are back to normal and safe to use. Appliances may not externally show water damage (by the time you return home) but may have been internally affected by flood water, compromising their integrity and leading to shocks or fires if used. Ensure that appliances are cleaned professionally and assessed before using.
- Clean Up
Clean and disinfect thoroughly all parts of house which have been flooded. Break it up into manageable steps and if necessary contact a professional. Ensure that you wear protective gloves, boots and masks before beginning to clean.
- Rebuild BETTER and Prepare for the next flood
When rebuilding, incorporate lessons learnt in the process, which will make your home more floodproof and minimize damage from future floods.
Purchase flood insurance if you can; this will give you additional contingency if your floodproofing does is not adequate for whatever reason
Develop a flood emergency response plan and assist others in your community in implementing a flood protection program.
(Adapted from- “Nine Steps to Recovery”: Repairing your flooded home- FEMA, a joint publication of FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency, an independent federal agency) and the American Red Cross.)