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Flood Damage and Home Repairs

Flood Damage and Home Repairs

Following a devastating flood, homeowners may wonder if rebuilding is worthwhile especially if they live in a flood zone. Only with FEMA-backed flood insurance can total loss be avoided; even then the damage that water can do to any home is hard to comprehend unless you have been through this. Rebuilding won’t come quickly and it will follow only after many tears and much sweat has been expended.

First Things First

When your home has been damaged, you have been damaged as well. That’s the conclusion the Red Cross and FEMA have made in its jointly issued and seminal home guide, “Repairing Your Flooded Home.”

Quite easily you and your loved ones can feel overwhelmed, with sadness, frustration, anger and emotional problems experienced.

As you sift through your home, you will encounter a variety of feelings. Even with the support of family members you know that what you are going through should not be experienced alone. Ask your neighbors, your church family and your community for help.

Call on emergency resources such as the Red Cross and other organizations for assistance. Be aware of certain signs of depression including excessive alcohol use, lashing out at others and sleeplessness. Seek professional help when overwhelmed.

Be Safe

Following a devastating flood, your home may still be have electricity and gas flowing. Both must be shut off and done so carefully.

When turning off the electricity, you will need to stand on a dry surface as you work with the main breaker or fuse box. It is recommended that you use a stick to turn the main breaker off, avoiding direct contact with a potentially lethal source.

Gas appliances may have been lifted by flood waters off of foundations, with gas leaking through your home. If you smell gas, leave your home and call the gas company from outside with your cell phone or at your neighbor’s home. You will want to leave the door open and if the gas meter is reachable from the outside of your home, turn it off there.

Be Careful

Once your electricity and fuel supply are cut off, you may be able to enter your home and go from room to room. Water can be a tremendously destabilizing force, therefore know that a room’s stability may be compromised.

Walls and floors can buckle, a ceiling may collapse and a pervasive stench can sicken you. Don a pair of rubber gloves, wear work boots and put on a hat. Bring with you a flashlight and if you are recording damage for insurance purposes, you will have your camera at the ready.

Trouble Signs

Signs of trouble include sagging ceilings, water and mud on the floor, broken windows and other exposure to the outdoors. You will want to protect your home from further damage and that may include boarding windows, covering over holes in the wall, placing a tarp over the roof and blocking access to some rooms.

At this point you may need to call in a home restoration service, once your insurance company has given you the go ahead. Some companies can provide a full range of environmental services from certified technicians including mold removal, water damage restoration, content cleaning, odor removal and air duct cleaning.

Mold is a serious threat to human health and should be thoroughly eradicated at the first sign of its appearance.

Recovery Planning

As you begin your recovery, there are a number of steps to take prior to rebuilding. Contact your mortgage holder to inform the company of your loss. Keep in mind that when your insurance company makes its payment to you, your mortgage holder may also be listed on your check. Ensure that your mortgage will not be affected as you make your repairs; ask for a one or two month loan deferment as you get your life back on track.

You also may be eligible for financial assistance from the federal government. If your insurance covers only part of your loss, you may qualify for a low-interest rate loan to help fix your home.

If you plan to fix your home yourself, be realistic about the tasks you can do yourself and what jobs may be best left to others. You may be able to fix leaky pipes, check the sewage disposal system and remove minor debris.

Likely, you will need assistance to restore electrical service, make structural repairs, remove major debris and handle major flood-proofing projects.

Home Considerations

As you work to get your life back in order, you will want to look at ways to flood-proof your home in the future. That does not mean that you will able to stay in your home the next time a flood hits, but it can make your recovery easier and reduce your losses considerably.

Work with an architect or home contractor to find ways to protect your home from repeat disasters.

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