LOS ANGELES - Though your home and its contents may have been damaged by a storm related flood or mudslide, many of your belongings can be restored. If you do things right, your flooded home can be cleaned, dried out, rebuilt and reoccupied sooner than you think!
Play it safe. The dangers are not over when the water recedes. Your home's foundation, walls or ceilings may have weakened, the electrical system may have suffered damage - or floodwaters may have left behind things that can make you sick.
The Nine Steps of Flood Recovery:
Step 1. Take Care of Yourself First
Protect yourself from stress, fatigue and health hazards. If you need food, clothing, shelter or referral to health care and social services call 2-1-1. To determine if you are eligible for federal government assistance visit DisasterAssistance.gov. To contact specific agencies:
City of Los Angeles agencies: 3-1-1 or (213) 473-3231
County of Los Angeles agencies: (213) 974-1234
State of California agencies: (800) 807-6755
U.S. State Emergency Management Agencies
Federal Government agencies: (800) 333-4636
FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers: (800) 621-3362
Step 2. Give Your Home First Aid
If evacuated, return home only when authorities indicate it is safe to do so. Dangers do not end when floodwaters recede, and some - such sewage contamination, electrical shock and inhalation hazards, may be invisible. If there is any doubt about safety, have your residence inspected by a qualified building inspector or structural engineer before entering. Once certain it is safe to go inside, proceed carefully. Your damaged home is no place for small children or pets. While working to protect your home from further harm, be certain to maintain personal hygeine and use appropriate safety gear such as boots, rubber gloves and goggles. Don't hesitate to ask for help!
Step 3. Get Organized
Document every loss and expense. Take photos, keep receipts and contact your Insurance Agent. Some things are not worth repairing and other things may be too complicated or expensive to do by yourself. A recovery plan can take these things into account and help you make the most of your time and money.
Step 4. Dry Out Your Home
Floodwaters damage materials, leaving mud, silt and contaminants that can promote the growth of mold. You need to thoroughly dry your home to reduce these hazards and the damage they cause.
Step 5. Restore the Utilities
Your work will be much easier if you have heat, electricity, clean water, and sewage disposal. We suggest these services be formally inspected and safely restored only by certified utility workers, as quickly as possible.
Step 6. Clean Up
Official documents and family treasures can often be preserved with special care. Throw away food, including canned goods contaminated by flood water. Any flooded part of your home or household item that contacted floodwater should be thoroughly washed and disinfected. When in doubt, throw it out! Don't risk injury or infection.
Step 7. Check on Financial Assistance
There are national, State and regional volunteer agencies, business and insurance services, as well as government disaster programs, loans and benefit guidance that can assist you through the claims process and recovery.
Step 8. Rebuild and Flood proof
Take time to repair and rebuild with safety in mind. Make improvements that will protect your building from the next flood and other likely disasters. Never rush into settlements or contracts. Get bids and opinions only from reputable, established firms willing to provide clear proof of license, training and insurance. Don't hesitate to ask for multiple references and inspect previous work.
Step 9. Prepare for the Next Flood
Protect and prepare yourself for the next flood with flood insurance, a home inventory and family response plan that takes into account your community flood risk and protection programs.
We trust these Nine Steps of Flood Recovery will help you recover quickly and safely. If firefighters can offer additional guidance, please visit your Neighborhood Fire Station or call us via 3-1-1.