Many southeastern North Carolina homes have been inundated with water as communities are experiencing record levels of flooding from Hurricane Florence.
After the flood waters recede, distraught homeowners will be faced with the daunting task of assessing their damaged homes.
Here's what you should do within the first 24-hours, adapted from HouseLogic.com:
Before you enter your home, check for visible structural damage such as warping, loose foundations, cracks and holes. Contact utility companies if you suspect damage to water, gas, electric and sewer lines.
The flood water may be contaminated. Wear hip boots or waist-high waterproof waders and rubber gloves.
Turn off all water and electrical sources. Even if the power isn't operational, go to your fuse box and turn off the main switch -- plus all the individual fuse connections.
Take digital photographs or video of the exterior and interior before removing any water or making any repairs. Your insurance company needs the documentation. Digital files are best because they may more easily be stored, copied and emailed.
Continue to take photographs as repairs begin. Insurers will want to see the height of any water damage to the walls and any other specific damage that is uncovered.
Call your insurer
Notify your insurance company as soon as possible. Follow their directions about whether you need to wait for an adjuster to inspect the property before making repairs.
When a region has officially been declared a "disaster area" by government authorities, property owners have access to increased resouces. You may have access to financial assistance as well as public services. Your insurance company may have additional information -- or you can contact FEMA directly.
Once you get the OK from your insurer, you can begin removing water. You may want to hire a professional disaster recovery company (check their record with the Better Business Bureau). If you do it yourself, you will need a sump pump and a wet vac.
Mold begins to grow in just a day, so you must act quickly. Remove wet items, including carpeting and bedding.
Some things may be salvaged if they are cleaned and dried immediately. Photograph and inventory items that aren't able to be saved and get them out of the house as soon as possible.
Throw out any food that may have come into contact with flood waters.
Clean surfaces with a non-amonia detergent ad disinfect with a 10% bleach solution.
Secure the property
Put boards or tarps over broken windows, damaged roofs and other exterior holes. Take photographs to prove to the insurance company that you've done everything possible to protect your home against further damage.
For more: A Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) publication, "Repairing Your Flooded Home," provides disaster information in great detail. You can download a copy of the book here.
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