Moldy wet basement before demolition (C) Daniel FriedmanGet Organized for Flood Damage Cleanup & Building Repair
Flood Damage Repair Guide FEMA/ARC expanded Step 3
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How to get organized before beginning to dry out & clean up a flood or storm damaged building.

Earthquake, hurricane, flood or storm & wind damage to buildings: action & repair priorities: If your building has been flooded, this article series provides an easy to understand guide for flood damage assessment, setting priorities of action, safety, and we provide special information about avoiding or minimizing mold damage.

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Step 3: Get Organized Before Starting to Clean Up & Repair a Flood, Hurricane, Earthquake or Storm-Damaged Building

Adapted and expanded from Repairing your Flooded Home, American Red Cross & FEMA & from additional expert sources.[1] NOTICE: neither the ARC nor FEMA have yet approved the additions & expansions we have made to the original document.

Before you try to clean up and repair everything, you need to assess your damage and develop a recovery plan. An organized approach will make the best use of your time and money. If your structure is substantially damaged, you need to ask yourself if you should rebuild at all—it may be smarter, safer, and cheaper to relocate. If you do rebuild, your recovery plan should include the floodproofing measures that can be incorporated with repairs and can save you thousands of dollars in the future (see Step 8).

Call Your Insurance Agent

You need to tell your agent about the damage to your home and contents so that your agent can file a claim. The sooner you can talk to your agent, the sooner your claim will be filed and an adjuster will be assigned to review your damage. How much of your loss is covered will depend on your policy. But even if you don’t have full coverage, your agent may be able to give you advice about where to get help with cleanup and repairs.

Your property insurance will fall into one of three categories:

1. Homeowner’s insurance usually covers losses caused by wind, storm, or broken water pipes, but not surface flooding. Some homeowner’s policies may cover basement flooding caused by sewer backup or sump pump failure.

2. Flood insurance covers most losses caused by surface floodwater. 3. Wind and hail insurance covers losses in coastal areas from the winds of a hurricane.

In coastal areas, homeowner’s insurance often does not cover damage from wind.

Read your insurance policies so that you will know what is covered and what is not. If your insurance covers the damages, your agent will tell you when you can expect an adjuster to contact you. The adjuster will determine the costs to repair the damage to your home and your belongings. The adjuster will then submit those costs to the insurance company for final approval. Your agent will also tell you what to throw away, and what to set aside for the adjuster to review. Find out if your insurance covers living expenses while your home is being repaired. (Flood insurance does not cover that cost.)

Start listing the damage to the home

List the damage and take pictures or videotapes as you clean up so you will have a complete and thorough record. Good records are needed for insurance claims, applications for disaster assistance, and income tax deductions.

Some items that are health hazards, such as rotting food and debris, should be thrown away.

Records to Keep • Damage to the building • Damage to the contents (see sample inventory form, next page) • Receipts for cleanup and restoration expenses, such as material, labor, and equipment rental, and receipts for flood-related expenses, such as motel bills. (Keep these in one place, like in and envelope in your car.) STEP

Tell your agent or adjuster that you need to get rid of this trash before you throw it out. They should tell you what to do so that all of your losses can be recorded properly by the adjuster. (See other pages in this document on sorting items to discard.) You may be told to keep a sample of items such as a piece of carpet or upholstery to show the value of what you have thrown away.

Ask someone to sign your record as a witness. If you have flood insurance, you will need to file a Proof of Loss form within 60 days of the flood. (See Step 7). Completing your own inventory form will make this form easier to complete and will also help the adjuster determine the costs to repair the damage to your home and belongings.

Check for Structural Damage to the Building after Flooding

You need to find out whether there is any structural damage to your home. (You will probably need professional help in making this decision.)

Is there evidence of broken or cracked basement or foundation walls? Are there broken pilings, shifted stairs, or slanted floors or walls? Any of these things could mean that the foundation, floors,

or walls will have to be totally rebuilt. Repair safety hazards such as broken pilings or an undermined foundation before you proceed any further. Get professional help for any task you cannot confidently do yourself.

You will need a building permit to repair structural damage. Talk to your building department before you start reconstruction or sign any repair contracts. If the damage to your home’s structure exceeds 50% of the market value of your home, most local building codes will require you to elevate it above flood levels. Some may not allow you to rebuild at all. (For more information on building permits, See Step 8.)

Ask the Big Question - Is this area going to have repeated earthquakes, floods, hurricanes?

Odds are that the area where you live will flood again. Before you spend a great deal of money and effort repairing and rebuilding, ask yourself this question:

Do I really want to be flooded again?

If you think that you would be better off in a different location, talk to your local government or disaster assistance officials about help rebuilding where floods can no longer damage your home.

There are programs that will buy some properties with houses that have been destroyed or substantially damaged. Other programs give financial help to move or elevate houses so they are above flood levels. See Step 7 for more information on flood- proofing assistance programs.

If you decide to stay, you can still make your home less susceptible to damage from the next flood. Before you start repairing and replacing things just like they were before, look at the flood- proofing measures in Step 8. Floodproofing as you repair and rebuild can save a great deal of money over time. Protecting your home from future floods will also add value to your property.

Plan Your Own Disaster Recovery

Get organized with a recovery plan. A recovery plan is simply a list of jobs that need to be done. Planning can help you save time and money. Doing things in the right order will also make everyone feel better—you’ll know you are making progress without wasting effort.

To develop a flood damage recovery plan, follow these steps

Make sure it is safe to work in your home. You’ll want to go back to your home as quickly as possible. But you must make sure the building is safe and sound. (See Step 2). . Review the rest of the recovery steps in this book. Start making lists. Begin with the projects such as “replace furnace” and “dry out walls.” Write down items you will need such as cleaning supplies or film and paper for record keeping. If necessary, make plans for a place to stay while you clean up.

Decide what you can and can’t do. You can save money by doing much of the work described in this book as you can. But be realistic. Jobs such as propping up broken foundations and replacing electrical service boxes are best left to the professionals. Many other jobs may be too involved or too heavy for you.

Decide if you need financial assistance. If you need to replace items or hire a professional and you don’t have insurance, there may be some voluntary organizations that can help you. (See Step 7.) Check the local newspaper, radio and TV stations for notices about Red Cross, church, and government disaster programs.

Check with your mortgage holder. If your mortgage holder is listed on your insurance policy, you cannot cash your insurance claim check without their approval. Before you decide on repairing and flood- proofing, make sure that your loan will not be affected. The mortgage holder may be able to provide financial help, such as deferring interest payments for a month or two.

Think before you use credit cards. Credit cards may be the fastest way to handle repair and rebuilding expenses, but they are also very costly. Their interest rates can be up to two percent per month (24 percent per year). A second mortgage or low interest government loan is a much less expensive way to borrow money for home repairs.

Keep talking openly with your family. Some of the biggest problems that come with a disaster are the mental strain of the loss and worries about the future. Work together and let everyone know what you will be doing in the days ahead.

Cleanup and Repair after a building flood — Who does what?

Jobs an owner can usually handle

  • Sorting contents to be repaired or discarded
  • Drying the ceiling, walls, and floors - but

    Watch out: if you cannot safely perform the necessary demolition work, or if you do not have access to an adequate number of fans, heaters, etc. to dry out the building rapidly enough to prevent further damage or mold growth, you will need help from a professional
  • Drying and cleaning electrical circuits and boxes (if code allows)
  • Removing minor debris such as branches and trash • Checking the gas or oil system
  • Fixing leaky pipes
  • Checking sewage disposal system for blockage or leaks
  • Building and contents cleaning
  • Checking sources of financial assistance
  • Minor floodproofing projects such as building an earthen wall or raising appliances

Jobs that usually require services of a professional

  • Structural repairs
  • Restoring electrical service
  • Wallboard taping and finishing
  • Checking the water system to ensure that it is safe to drink. (That service is often free from the local health department.) • Major debris removal such as tree cutting
  • Electrical and gas appliance and motor cleaning and repair
  • Cleaning leather, furs, upholstered furniture, and expensive carpeting
  • Major floodproofing projects such as moving or elevating a home

Business Bureau can provide guidance on dealing with contractors.

 

 

Continue reading at Step 4. BUILDING DRY-OUT PROCEDURES - separate article - Floodwaters damage materials, leave mud, silt and unknown contaminants, and promote the growth of mildew. You need to dry your home to reduce these hazards and the damage they cause.

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