What to Know When Returning to Flood-Damaged Businesses and Homes

While returning to a flood-damaged business or home may not be an issue on your plate today, it might be in the future. And according to a Southwest Iowa Newspapers report, those returning to flood-damaged property should first make sure it’s safe to return by following official area reports. (Readers can take advantage of Southwest Iowa Newspapers’ flood resource information at http://swiowanews2.com/flood/?p=139, which includes sandbagging tips, evacuation maps and road closures.)

According to FEMA, potential hazards after a flood include carbon monoxide poisoning from “generators used to power homes or clean-up equipment; electrocution from stepping into water charged by live electric wires; infections to cuts or scrapes that come into contact with surfaces contaminated by floodwater; and chemical hazards from spills or storage tank breaks, respiratory and heat-related illnesses.”

Here are some simple steps to take when returning to flood-damaged property:

1. Check for damage before re-entering your property. You may need to contact professionals if you find or suspect damage to water, gas, electric or sewer lines.

2. Throw away food that has come in contact with floodwaters.

3. Boil water until authorities declare the water supply safe to drink.

4. File your flood insurance claim as soon as possible. Make sure to take photos of water in the property and all damages.

5. Clean up. Remove all contents to prevent mold, which can develop within 24 hours. Dry the building’s interior. Dehumidifiers and air conditioners can help start this process. This is only a start, and detailed clean up instructions can be found online.

Additional flood response resources include:

Steps that should be taken immediately after a flood: http://www.fema.gov/hazard/flood/fl_after.shtm

Detailed information on cleaning and salvaging household items: http://www.fema.gov/hazard/flood/coping.shtm

Information on health/safety concerns that can result following a flood: http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/floods/after.asp#cleanup

For more information about how to prepare and respond to flooding, visit: http://swiowanews2.com/flood/?p=139