This hurricane season has been a doozy of unprecedented proportions. First, Harvey destroyed Rockport and put Houston completely underwater overnight. Then, Irma tore her way across Florida.
Unpredictable weather is hard to plan for and flood-related disasters typically have a huge impact because many homeowners don’t have flood insurance policies. Did you know that your regular home insurance won’t cover flood damage?
If you live in a floodplain, flood insurance is a mandatory part of your mortgage. But if you live outside of a designated floodplain area? You might be among the 88% of homeowners that don’t have flood insurance policies. In the wake of overwhelming flooding and storm-related damage, many families are finding themselves unprotected and facing large cleanup and repair bills.
If you’ve been affected by flood damage, we offer our deepest sympathies and hope that we’re able to help. This blog is full of great information regarding the cleanup process and how to secure federal financial assistance.
The First Steps After the Flood
Is the Area Safe?
Once the storm has passed, make sure the local authorities have declared the area safe for inhabitants to return. Always remember, safety first! You don’t know what to expect upon re-entry. Wear protective gear and move cautiously, checking everything carefully as you proceed through your property.
Cut the Power
Be sure the power is completely turned off in the house because water and electricity do not mix and the power might come on unexpectedly when you’re standing ankle deep. To avoid dangerous situations, turn off both the main breaker and each individual breaker to ensure the house is completely without power. As a precaution, always use a flashlight and wear gloves.
Check for Visible Damage
After ensuring the power is completely cut off, check the entire home carefully for visible damage before entering. Check for flood damage to water, power, or gas lines. If you smell gas, call the utility company immediately. Don’t enter the home until a licensed professional has inspected the damage.
Scrutinize the roof for damage such as missing shingles or holes, sagging rooflines, and damaged flashing.
Examine the home’s exterior for any crumbling or deterioration and the foundation for any cracks. Be careful as you enter the property and watch out for rodents or snakes that may have drifted into your home as floodwaters receded.
As you move through the home, inspect the floors and ceilings for sagging, mold, or damage.
Meticulously document all flood damage with digital photos and videos. Keep copies of all photos and videos and records of all conversations with your insurance company. Be sure not to throw anything away until the adjuster comes to review your claim.
FEMA has a property inventory list available online to simplify the process, click here for the download.
Secure the Property
Secure the property as best you can to prevent any further damage. Cover holes with tarps and doorways or broken windows with plywood.
Call Your Insurance Company
Contact your homeowner’s insurance as soon as possible. Keep in mind that if your agent is local, they’re probably elbows deep in their own home cleanup. It’s a good idea to call the national number to schedule an appointment with an adjuster in your area.
When you call, let the company know you’ve documented the damage and have an inventory of items that need replacing.
Remember that even if you don’t have flood insurance, your homeowner’s insurance might cover things other than floods, such as loss of use coverage or theft of personal property
There are also federal grants available for provisional housing or repairs, and grants for personal property to help supplement your recovery whether you have flood insurance or not.
What is FEMA?
FEMA stands for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The agency helps return flood-damaged homes to a safe, secure, sanitized state and offers financial assistance to homeowners in times of need. This money can be used to cover gaps in your insurance coverage or help distressed homeowners lacking flood insurance altogether.
If you live in an area that has been declared a disaster area, you’ll have increased access to government resources. These resources include federal grants for temporary housing or emergency repairs, grants for personal property, low-interest loans, extended tax deadlines, crisis counseling services and legal advice.
Call 1-800-621-3362 or visit www.disasterassistance.gov to start your application and get the help you need.
If You’re Ready to Start Clean Up
Safety should always be your first priority. Flood waters contain mud, bacteria, sewage, chemicals, and toxins. Wear waders, gloves, and N95 ventilation masks when pumping out and cleaning out your home.
Dry Out the Property
The first step of clean up is to remove all standing water and dry the property out. Open windows and doors, use fans to circulate air and dehumidifiers to remove moisture. You can rent industrial fans and humidifiers at places like Home Depot and Sunbelt Rentals. The sooner you can get your home dried out the better. Mold can start to grow in as little as 48 hours and causes a host of health problems.
Muck out the Mud
Clear out all the mud or sediment that has settled and throw out all food and medicine, including canned goods or other sealed items. It’s just better safe than sorry.
Anything That Absorbs Water Must Go
Remove any items or furnishings that absorb moisture and can’t be sanitized. This includes bedding, carpet, curtains, stuffed animals, pillows or upholstered furniture. Drywall, insulation, and particle board must be removed up to the water line, as they absorb any contaminants from the water and they’re breeding grounds for mold. Remember not to throw anything away until your insurance adjuster has personally inspected everything.
Clean and Disinfect All Hard Surfaces
Clean all hard surfaces with water and a heavy detergent or pine oil cleaner, then allow to air dry and disinfect with a bleach solution. Better yet, buy a fungicide. We recommend Concrobium Mold Control.
Start Your Repairs
Safely bet that any electrical components will need to be replaced. Circuit breakers, fuses and wiring systems, light fixtures and switches, outlets, thermostats, heaters, fans, televisions, stereos or computers don’t stand a chance if they’re submerged.
Appliances will need to be professionally cleaned, sanitized, and repaired if they’re to survive the deluge.
It’s always a good idea to have inspectors check the walls and ceilings, electrical and HVAC systems, sewer and septic systems, air ducts, and plumbing.
Remodeling a Flood Damaged Home
Homeowners should be aware that hurricanes can cause expensive storm damage to your roof and foundation. Termites love wet wood, and between pest infestation and water damage, you can expect to discover severe rot, distortion, and warping in the aftermath.
Severe flooding can cause a host of structural problems and health hazards, the first and foremost of which is mold. Mold causes respiratory and immune problems, as well as exacerbating existing allergies. You will also likely encounter foundation damage, jammed doors and broken windows, damaged drywall and insulation, soaked sheathing and swollen framing, electrical issues, destroyed appliances and electronics, ruined furniture, and damaged flooring.
It’s possible to go the DIY route with most of your repairs, but you’ll still need numerous inspections and the help of a few professionals before the property can be considered fully restored. Doing it yourself might save you money, but it also has its drawbacks, namely the length of repair timeline and varying levels of expertise on the multitude of repairs your home will require.
Professional contracting crews have the capacity and experience to make your repairs quickly, and if they don’t have an expert on staff, they can subcontract out as needed. If you’re looking to get back on your feet as soon as possible, hiring a contractor is the way to go!
It’s a good idea to get estimates from a couple contractors to make sure you’re getting a fair price. Always provide potential contractors with your inspection reports so they can take your unique circumstances into account to make the most accurate bid.
Selling Your Flood Damaged Home
The recent hurricanes have caused unpredictable and unprecedented flooding. Overnight, many families were left without shelter, food, electricity, or dry possessions and found themselves displaced to hotels, shelters, or friendly spare rooms.
After days of waiting, folks were able to return home and assess the damage. Many properties were flooded to the rooflines well outside of the floodplain, and many homeowners found themselves unprepared for the extent and expense of the damage.
Expensive repairs may not be the best route for you and your family!
If you find yourself without flood insurance or you can’t or don’t want to spend the time and energy making the necessary repairs, you’ll be happy to know there’s still a market for flood-damaged homes.
Traditional sales methods won’t work as well in this situation, but As-Is sales are a great way to sell a storm-damaged property. Search for companies that do as-is or cash sales in your area!
Here at Whitestone Acquisitions, we specialize in buying As-Is properties, even ones that have been damaged by floods!
We pay cash for flood-damaged houses in as little as ten days, depending on the title search. Our experienced team of agents, appraisers, and attorneys will guide you through the process confidently, without closing costs or commissions!
This is a difficult time for you and your family. We’re here to help answer your questions and make the sales process as stress-free as possible! We offer free, no-obligation home evaluations and strive to help flood victims get back on their feet.
If you’re a victim of the recent storms and flooding, call 844-207- 8857 to schedule a no-obligation appointment to see what your home is worth! Or, if you’re strapped for time, visit our website and fill out the quick and easy questionnaire to get the ball rolling!