What To Do If My House Floods?admin
Floods are the most common natural disaster. They occur in all 50 states and U.S. territories, and their frequency is increasing because of heavy rains and warmer weather that causes snow to melt faster than usual. Flood damage can be very extensive to repair. Looking at the Brooklyn, New York, neighborhood of Gerritsen Beach a mere two weeks after Hurricane Sandy, you might think the ruined homes were destroyed by fire or an earthquake. But flooding can be just as devastating. The problem is that flood insurance has been unavailable to many homeowners in areas at high risk for flooding because of their location on low-lying land along rivers or on barrier islands.
What should you do if there is a flood?
When a flood occurs, the water can rise many feet and seep into your basement, where it wreaks havoc almost as bad as fire. The longer you wait to clean up, the more damage is done as water seeps deeper into walls and floors. Some say that if you plan to do something about it, act fast.
“We typically say that you have 72 hours to take care of your property, based on the water damage,” says Ericka Edwards, who sells flood insurance. “If you don’t do it in 72 hours, you’re probably not going to be able to save it.”
If you fear your home may be too far gone to save, you can call a water damage restoration company in Brooklyn that uses industrial equipment that removes the floodwater without causing further damage.
How are the experts able to dry out the flood?
One thing that saves a flooded home is to use a wet/dry vacuum, which can suck up a lot of water in a short time. Dehumidifiers also help dry out the air and lower the humidity level below 60 percent, which might prevent further seepage into walls and floors.
If you have an oil furnace or hot-water heater, the oil can become gummy and clog up passages. A plumber should pump them out immediately to prevent damage. Some insurance companies will pay for this service if you file a claim within 30 days of the flood event.
What can be done to minimize flood damage?
New buildings are required to have flood barriers on their electrical outlets and must elevate their hot-water heaters and furnace. Homeowners may also be required to elevate their appliances, such as hot-water heaters, furnaces and refrigerators.
Another thing that can help is to raise the electrical outlets by about 18 inches so they stay dry even if water rises above them. If you have a finished basement, there are still things you can do to make it safe, including installing rubber seals around basement doors, covering the opening to your French drain with a grate to keep out debris, inspecting your drains and gutters twice a year, and maintaining your sump pump.
What you should do before a flood?
Instructions on how to clean up after an indoor flood are available online, but you should contact an insurance agent or building contractor for specialized cleanup help.
It is advisable to take pictures of everything in your home that’s not proofed against flooding. These pictures should include the appliances, carpeting, ceramic tiles and anything else on the floor. Also record details about where each item was purchased so they can be replaced with identical items if necessary. Keep all receipts for any replacement materials.
Protect your most valuable photographs in a waterproof container or bag, along with original documents. If you have insurance, take photos of the rooms before moving anything to help the adjuster determine the extent of damage.
Make sure you have copies of important papers that are not stored in your home. You can use either an online storage service or a safe-deposit box.
Some people line their basement walls with sand bags, but you can save money by using ordinary burlap sacks filled with sand . In the past, brick has been used for this purpose, but it is very heavy and difficult to handle when the water level rises. If you do use bricks, make sure they are small enough to carry up the stairs easily.
What kind of insurance coverage do you need?
Flood insurance is not part of a standard homeowners policy, so you must buy it separately unless your mortgage company provides it as part of its loan package. If you own property in a high-risk area but have no risk on your land, you probably will have to pay for flood insurance if your insurer won’t provide it.
You generally have three choices when buying flood insurance:
– A standard policy that provides about $130,000 in coverage per building on the property. This is sometimes all that’s needed because the first step after a flood is to mop up and dry out.
– A policy that adds on a 15 percent deductible for $20,000 in coverage per building. This can be useful if your property is located in an area where there have been floods and you want to rebuild quickly after one happens.
– An actual cash value policy that provides less than $130,000 of coverage and depreciates the value of any items that are not replaced.
You can buy supplemental insurance for loss of personal property, but it is expensive and probably won’t be worth it unless your furnishings are extremely valuable. You can purchase extra liability insurance to cover damage you may cause to other people’s property.
How high does my house need to be?
A house in a non-high-risk area must be at least one foot above the 100-year flood level, or it won’t qualify for a standard policy. In a high-risk area , the minimum height is at least two feet above the base flood elevation line established by FEMA, or the Federal Emergency Management Agency.