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Flood Recovery

For information on repairing your home please see the Red Cross manual  Repairing Your Flooded Home here.

Filing an insurance claim:

Step 1. Contact your agent to report your loss:

  • Have ready the name of your insurance company (your agent may write policies for more than one company),
  • Policy number
  • A phone number and/or e-mail address where you can be reached.
  • If you get in touch with your agent or company representative directly, they will advise you how to file your notice of claim. Otherwise, you must send a written notice to your insurance company with your policy number.

Step 2. Separate your property:

  • Your policy requires you to separate damaged property from undamaged property.
  • Don't throw anything away before an adjuster has seen it.
  • If local officials require damaged items to be thrown out, take photos before disposing of them and keep samples for the adjuster to see (for example, cut out a piece of wall-to-wall carpet).
  • Do all you can to protect undamaged property.

Step 3. Make a list of damaged contents:

  • If you have contents coverage, make a list of damaged property. List the quantity of each item, a description, brand name, where purchased, its cost, model and serial number (if appropriate) and your estimate of the loss amount. Attach your bills, receipts, photos and any other documents.

Step 4. List areas of structural damage:

  • As you look over your property, make a list of any areas of structural damage you want to point out to the adjuster.
  • If you have damage estimates prepared by one or more contractors, provide them to the adjuster since they will be considered in the preparation of your repair estimate.

When the adjuster comes:

  • Generally, your adjuster will contact you within 48 hours after receiving your notice of loss. However, depending on local conditions and the severity of flooding, it may take more time.
  • Once the adjuster reaches you, a time will be set for the adjuster to view your property.
  • During the visit to your property, the adjuster will take measurements and photographs and note the flood damage. This is called "scoping" a loss.
  • You are encouraged to point out all damage you have noticed.
  • The adjuster uses the knowledge gained from the visit(s) - and the documentation you provided to complete a detailed estimate of damage. You will get a copy.
  • You may ask the adjuster for an advance or partial payment. If you have a mortgage, your mortgage company will need to sign the building property advance check.
  • Your official claim for damage is called a Proof of Loss.
    - It includes a detailed estimate to replace or repair the damaged property.
    - It must be fully completed, signed, and in the hands of your insurance company within 60 days after the loss occurs.
    - In most cases, the adjuster, as a courtesy, will provide you with a suggested Proof of Loss.
    - You are responsible for making sure that it is complete, accurate and filed in a timely manner.
    - Be sure to keep a copy of the Proof of Loss and all supporting documents for your records.
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Check your House Outside

Each year about 150 people die because of floods. Many of those fatalities are due to electrocution or other accidents that occur after the floodwaters have gone down. Your first job is to make sure everything is safe. Follow these steps:

  • Check with your insurance agent to see if some of your cleanup and repair work is covered. If so, you may want to hire professional help for the rest of these steps.
  • Walk around the outside of your house
  • Remove tree limbs or other trash that may have landed on or floated into the house.
  • Check for loose power lines and gas leaks.


  • You can detect leaking gas by the putrid, rotten egg smell of chemicals that have been added to it to make a leak noticeable.
  • Turn off the gas, if you did not do so before you evacuated.
  • If you think there's a gas leak, click here for more guidance.

Avoid electricity

  • Stay away from power lines and electrical wires.
  • The number two flood killer after drowning is electrocution.
  • Electrical current can travel through water.
  • Report downed power lines to your electricity provider. Call 911 if people are in danger.
  • Turn off the electricity if you did not do so before you evacuated.

Check the foundation for cracks or other damage

  • Examine porch roofs and overhangs to be sure they still have all their supports.
  • Look for gaps between the steps and the house.
  • If you see damage, have the Planning and Development Department check the house before you go in.
  • Turn off the electricity at your house, even if the power company has turned it off (they may turn it back on when you're not ready).
  • If you have to go through water to get to your fuse box or breaker box, if the boxes are wet, or if you're not comfortable with electrical matters, call an electrician.
  • Otherwise, you can follow the instructions to Turning Off the Electricity.

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Check your House Inside

Go inside carefully

  • It may be easier to enter your house through a window if the door won't open easily.
  • Look carefully at the ceiling before you go in to be sure it is not ready to fall.
  • Do not smoke or use candles, gas lanterns, or other open flames until the house has been well ventilated. There may be explosive gas.

Rescue the most valuable items

  • Find and protect the "irreplaceables," like money, jewelry, insurance papers, photographs, and family heirlooms.
  • Wash the mud off before they have a chance to dry.
  • Put them in a safe place like the upper story (if it's dry), a plastic bag, or take them to a friend's home.
  • Wash the mud off photographs and papers and put them in a freezer for clean up later when you have the time to do a careful job.

Keep the damage from getting worse

  • Open the windows and doors (if weather permits) to reduce the moisture and get rid of any gas.
  • Cover holes in the roof, walls, or windows with boards, tarps, or plastic sheeting to keep out the wind and rain.

Check for broken or leaking water pipes

  • If you find any, turn off the water supply by turning off the valve at your water meter.
  • If sewer and water lines are damaged, don't use toilets or sinks.
  • If the water pipes are not leaking, you can use your tap water for hosing things down and cleaning. But do not drink or cook with tap water until your local official declares it safe.

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Cleaning your home

Get rid of the mud and silt. Most of the health hazards brought by a flood are in the mud and silt that is left after the water drains away.

This is a lot easier if you do it before the mud dries out. Follow these steps:

  • shovel out the mud
  • Make sure the electricity is turned off.
  • Remove all light bulbs from sockets that have been flooded. Throw away flooded wall switches and outlets. They should be replaced later with new ones.
  • Hose the house down, inside and out. If you have an attachment that sprays soap, wash and then rinse the walls and floors.
  • Hose the furniture and other major items that got muddy.
  • Double check that the electricity is off, then thoroughly hose out the electrical outlets, switch boxes, and light sockets that you opened up.
  • Don't let the water sit on the floor too long. Mop it up right away, especially if your floor is particle board or another wood product that tends to fall apart when wet.
  • Remove all wet drywall and insulation. Even if it looks dry, it contains pollutants that you don't want in your house.
  • Clean everything that got wet. Flood waters have picked up sewage and chemicals from roads, farms, factories, and storage buildings. Spoiled food and flooded cosmetics and medicines are health hazards.
  • For more information: Get a copy of Repairing Your Flooded Home here.

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Filing an insurance claim
Check your house outside
Check your house inside
Clean your home