A lot of us are lucky enough to never experience a flood in our home and hopefully will never have to. However we do all understand that for those who are victims of a flood it must be horrendous and difficult to get your life back together.
There are so many questions and worries that anybody would be sent to despair, so we have put together a few questions and answers so that you can prepare, or bring your self back from the effects of a flood.
Where do you go next?
First of all, you have to outline the positives. Although they may seem few, it could have been worse. You will need time to get your head together and motivate yourself for the time ahead. Get to a family members house and give yourself some rest.
Talking to your loved ones can be a great help. You can appreciate that everyone is okay and at least you weren’t physically hurt in the incident. Give yourself chance to appreciate the little things you still have before facing the bigger problem.
When you’re ready to start thinking about the next steps, your head can be flooded with confusion, anger and hurt. You will begin to think about the small things which are irreplaceable and can become overwhelmed. Make sure you don’t do this alone. Your friends and family are great company, and they will give you reason to be strong.
What do I do about my ruined possessions?
Before going back into the house, turn of the electricity to ensure there is no danger of you getting hurt.
Once you’ve gotten yourself prepared to think about the damage, you should write down everything which is completely ruined. Take a note of what can’t be replaced and what can be repaired.
Now that you have an idea of how much has been ruined beyond repair, you can start to estimate how much contents you have covered with your insurance company. It can relieve a lot of the stress when you realise your insurance company will be giving you a great deal of help in this situation.
How much will the repairs cost?
Once the water has drained from the house and you can enter again, you have to start thinking about the building itself. You will have to check for any broken or leaking pipes, if you find any you should shut off the water to prevent any more water damage. You can get a surveyor to come and assess the damage and give you an idea of how bad it is. Once you know how much damage there is, you can begin to estimate the cost of repair and figure out how much is covered by your insurance provider.
Some of the things you will have to check are:
Walls- Depending on how damaged the walls are, they could take months until they dry out. You may need to remove the plaster to allow the wall to dry properly because of the chemicals and salts in it that will hold the water and wash the studs and sill and disinfect them.
Floor- There may be electrics under the floor which have been damaged. When the water has drained these will need to be checked to ensure they are safe or need to be replaced.
Timber- Typically used in the walls and for floors, wood will probably have to be removed and replaced. Water can cause timber to rot if it is saturated and cannot dry out. Wood alcohol or turpentine applied with a cotton ball may remove white mildew spots.
Insulation- It should be noted that any insulation within the cavity may have slumped as a result of becoming saturated, and it may be necessary for this to be removed and replaced.
Where do I go if the water doesn’t disappear?
In this case you will have to find temporary accommodation or stay with a family member until the water can be drained. You can contact your local Fire and Rescue Service to get advice on pumping the water out. Depending on your insurer or policy you may have temporary accommodation included in the event of a flood or fire.
Will I have to move?
You don’t have to do anything. This all depends on your circumstances. If the house is beyond repair, it may be best to get as much as you’re entitled to from you insurance provider and starting again. However the funds from your insurance company may be enough to save your home.
An event like this can make a lot of people want to move because the clean up is so hard and doesn’t seem worth it. Also if you live near the sea or a river, you may want to move to avoid the same disaster happening again. This doesn’t mean you have to move. There is always a way to repair the house, you just have to weigh up the pros and cons and see which is best for you.
How do I even begin to clean up?
Once you have inspected the house for damage and had a surveyor tell you the extent of the repairs needed, you can start to think about fixing things. Let’s just say you only have buildings cover but no contents. You can take a deep breath and think, at least the structure of my home is going to okay.
Now you just have to sort the insides. First of all, it’s all going to have to be washed and disinfected. Don’t even drink your tap water until the local water board has certified that the water mains haven’t been infected by the flood water. Get all damaged materials, clothes, curtains, blankets and put them into black bags to be professionally washed.
Carpets and Upholstery- There are companies that specialise in deep cleaning carpets and upholstery ruined by flood water, such as Carpet Pro Clean and 1st Class Cleaning. If you don’t want to replace them, you may be able to save them. Get rid of any left over water with sponges and mops, use two buckets to avoid cleaning up with dirty water.
Furniture- Try and air out all of your furniture, if it’s possible, take of the backs, pull out the drawers and put them somewhere to dry. Wooden furniture may be able to be treated and repaired, however wood is very easily damaged beyond repair by being submerged in water for long periods of time.
Appliances- Any electrical appliances may have been damaged beyond repair, you can take them to professional companies to try and fix them however this is a difficult job depending on the amount of water inside. Washing machines will need to be cleaned and disinfected also, they should now be used until the mains water has been declared safe again.
Kitchen Items- Due to the nature of these items they will probably need to be disposed of. This is because of the contaminated flood waters which could have soaked into them and potentially cause illnesses. When washing items which cannot absorb water, make sure they air-dry so they don’t pick up anything from contaminated dish towels. They must be washed in strong cleaning products first to kill any germs. Food items will need to be disposed of if they have been in contact with the water.
Papers- Anything from photographs to documents and books, these items can be the most essential, yet the easiest destroyed of the lot. There are many ways of getting paper treated to restore them. Professional companies exist to restore paper and photographs or you can find guides online to restore papers yourself.
Will my insurance pay out?
Providing that you have disclosed all of the correct details to your insurer, such as building cost and contents cost, your insurer should pay out due to the circumstances.
It is possible that your insurance will pay for all of the above problems depending on your policy. The first thing you should do is contact your insurance company and find out how much of the buildings and contents cover they are going to pay for. Give them as much detail as possible and they will be the ones to help you through the rough patches.
What support is there?
There is some funding available from central government for those who have suffered with a flood. The Flood Support Scheme is in place to support councils so that they can provide council tax rebates to residents whose homes have been flooded, for as long as they are unable to return to their homes. You can see if you’re eligible at gov.uk.
There is a lot of information and charities committed to helping people who have suffered form a flood. You are not alone and although it seems like there is no coming back, there is always a way to sort it out.
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