After the Storm – Basement Flooding

by Rachel Laurendeau on October 30, 2012

With hurricanes and “superstorms” being on everyone’s minds at the moment, there has been a great deal of discussion about emergency preparedness. Beyond that, we need to think of the aftermath and what that means for folks who have to deal with the post-storm cleanup and home improvements necessary after a major storm. Massive storms are no longer a rarity so it is important to know what to do to take care of our property and ourselves. This is the second blog in a series of three, dedicated specifically to this topic.

Basements and crawl spaces tend to be the first areas to flood and the hardest hit parts of the house.

Prevention
• If you know that there is a major storm with potential flooding headed your way, move anything of sentimental value out of the basement. If you have the chance to move bigger or more valuable items up above basement level, that would also be of benefit.
• If you live in area that is prone to flooding, extremely heavy rain storms or hurricanes, you may want to take preventative measures before the next storm season arrives. Have a contractor take care of any foundation repairs that your home may need or hire a professional basement waterproofing contractor who can protect your basement or crawl space from flooding and the associated problems such as water damage, dampness and mold. Taking protective steps before a flood can save you hours or even days of work and headaches in the future.

Safety
• Put your own safety first, above cleanup work.
• Make sure you are well rested and take regular breaks.
• Wear the appropriate protective equipment like gloves, rubber boots and a mask while you are cleaning up.
• Avoid electrical shock by shutting off power to the flooded area at the breaker box and keep extension cords out of the water or damp spots. Never go into a basement with standing water in it unless the electricity is off.

Insurance
• Talk to your insurance agent as soon as possible so that a claim can be filed and an adjuster can be assigned to you.
• Call before you start any work on the house.
• After a natural disaster, adjusters will likely be very busy and unable to come to your home immediately. Find out what documentation they need from you and what they want you to do while you are waiting for them.
• Make a list of the damage and take photos or video of the damage and the work in progress.

Dry Out the Basement
There are excellent instructions on how to dry and clean out your basement provided in the American Red Cross document “Repairing Your Flooded Home.” We recommend following those instructions as well as any instructions you receive from your insurance agent/adjuster and your local health department or county office.

The task of drying out, cleaning and sorting through everything may seem daunting. If you need help, do not hesitate to call a contractor who specializes in water damage restoration and mold remediation. Also, find out what local and national programs or resources are at your disposal, these may be quite helpful in the long run.

Resources: American Red Cross, CMHC

Related blog articles: After the Storm – Well Water Safety

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