Eight Steps to Recovery

1: Take care of your family and yourself first

  • Keep your family together.  Arrange for temporary shelter, food and clothing.  The American Red Cross, the Salvation Army and church groups can offer a variety of assistance.
  • Get enough rest and eat properly.  You are more likely to make the right decisions.
  • Talk to others who are going through the same thing.
  • Make a list of jobs and tackle them one at a time.  Set a realistic schedule to clean up and rebuild.

2: Assess the damage

  • Make sure it is safe to go back to your home.
  • If you had to evacuate, local radio or TV will tell you when you can go back to your home.
  • Make sure the building is safe and structurally sound before you enter. If you see obvious damage, contact your community’s building inspector or a contractor to check the house.
  • Call your insurance agent. Take photographs or video the damage before you begin a cleanup.
    • Homeowner’s insurance does not cover flooding.
  • You may be eligible for federal assistance to cover what your insurance policy doesn’t.  You may be eligible for funds to prevent damage in the future. Learn how to apply for federal assistance.
  • Keep receipts related to the disaster and your recovery.  You could be reimbursed by your insurance and other assistance.

3: Give your house some first aid

  • Make sure the power is turned off.  Practice generator safety.
  • Turn off the gas.  If you suspect a leak or smell gas, leave immediately and call the gas company.
  • Drain your basement carefully.
  • Shovel out as much mud as possible first.  With the power off, hose the house down and start the clean up.

4: Dry out your home

  • Air out the house – open doors, windows, closet and cabinet doors.  Use fans and dehumidifiers.  Drain and dry the ceilings, walls and floors.
  • Use products like kitty litter, chemical dehumidifier packs and calcium chloride pellets to remove moisture.
  • Sort contents and discard debris.
  • Because of the risk of serious illness, throw out water-soaked food, cosmetics, medicines and medical supplies, stuffed animals and baby toys.
  • Call a contractor for work that you can’t do yourself.

5: Restore the utilities

Call a professional to restore power, water and gas to your home.

6: Clean up the mess

Every flooded part of your house should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. Follow these general rules:

  • Make sure your work area is well-ventilated.
  • Use one bucket for your cleaning solution, one for your rinse water and replace the rinse water frequently.
  • Use cleaning products with caution.  Bleach should not be mixed with other household products, especially ammonia, because a poisonous gas will form.
  • Wash exposed skin frequently and wear rubber gloves to protect your hands.
  • Wash with chlorine bleach or a disinfectant.  Add one tablespoon of liquid chlorine bleach to one gallon of water.

Step 7: Rebuild and mitigate

You can prevent future damage to your home and property while making repairs.  This is called mitigation.  If your house was flooded, consider the following options to avoid loss in the future:

  • Elevate your water heater off the floor.
  • Have the main electrical panel moved to a better location.
  • Elevate your home above flood level.
  • Build floodwalls or berms to protect your home against the floodwaters.
  • Seal the building to keep floodwaters out.

Local building codes usually require a building permit before you start to repair or alter your home.

Step 8: Prepare for next time

Make an emergency plan.

Get an emergency supply kit.

Be aware of all the threats that could affect your area.

Buy flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program.  Call your insurance agent, or call the NFIP at 1-800-427-4661.

Be ready. Be willing to help.

Virginia Disaster Relief Fund