Experiences from my last three flooded homes

Looking from the end of my cul-de-sac down the cross street. My house did not flood.

My family and I have flooded 3 times (third time they bought us out and tore the house down before I could burn it down).  Although it has been some time since we moved to one of the highest points in the county here are just a few things in my inexpert opinion to do.

If you are flooding now, and you want the flood insurance (if you have it) to help with the repairs call them now to get the process started.   If you are standing in 3 feet of water you call.  If you got 1 inch in the laundry room and nowhere else, you might want to think about it.

Be patient.  The urge to do something is overwhelming.  Take your time, don’t get hurt.  We do not regularly do construction or deconstruction.  We do not regularly move furniture and appliances.   Wet carpet and sheetrock are heavy.  The back you save will be yours until you die.

Take a pictorial record of everything. Receipts can be important for electronics and appliances. Depending on your insurance, depreciation will be applied to depreciable items.

If your garage has 6 and above inches of water in it, if you can, raise the door a few inches.  The water will drain out of the driveway faster than the garage, and it will bend the door so it may not open.

If you need a contractor and know one give them a call now.   There are going to be lots of shortages of manpower and materials. (I know several good contractors if you need a referral).

You can tear out yourself.  Flood insurance will not pay you for your work.  If your contractor tears out insurance will pay them.  That is a matter of timing.

When the water goes down, and it starts to dry, that is when the mold starts.   If your contractor can start demolition quickly you will be fine.  If not, you may have to start. You may have to pull carpet.  You can take out the sheetrock up to 2 ft unless the water got deeper (cut it neatly and the  replacement sheets which are 4 ft wide can be put in sideways).  Pull wet insulation.   You can use a water hose to rinse out the mud on the floors. Get a sprayer and spray everything with bleach.  Lots of bleach, bleach kills mold (don’t breath in the spray, or get it on your skin, in other words don’t create too much of a fog)

Work around the kitchen cabinets, the appraiser will need to see those, but check with your insurance company to see what they want.  You will have plenty of work with the walls and carpet.

Carpet, sheetrock and insulation can go to the street for trash pickup (keep a piece of carpet and pad to show the adjuster).  The county (maybe the city too) comes around several times with large trash trucks to take things away.  Keep the trash clean, that is no spray cans, toxic chemical.  Just household debris.  Keep the piles neat and contained and it is easier for them to pick up.

This is going to sound weird but put the carpet pad in a separate pile.  There will likely be people roaming around gathering up the carpet pad since it is recyclable.   Companies buy it from them, clean it and grid it back up and make it back into carpet pad.  Putting it in a separate pile keeps them from scattering you trash all over.

Wet furniture generally cannot be saved.  Personal property and furniture should not be disposed of until the adjuster has viewed it.  Check with you insurance company they may be okay with detailed pictures.

Anything that got wet, and you want to keep (such as golf clubs), that you claim will have go to the insurance company.  They sell all that stuff somewhere.

An insurance adjuster will come to you house.  They will likely be a contracted adjuster who does not work for you insurance company.  They are going to be overworked and tired.  They came from out of town and are staying in a hotel or travel trailer.  If you have it offer them water or a soda.  Offer to let them use your bathroom.  Have a place for them to sit and write their notes.  This is the person processing you claim, make them your friend.   Also, if you have the cash for the repairs you can stall taking their offer, it might be wise to wait.  When you are one of the last they have to settle before they can leave, they will likely be more flexible.  On our last flood, the work was done and the adjuster sat down with my contractor and went through everything until they agreed.  Our first flood we accepted an offer that was too low and ended up paying for most of the repair ourselves.

You do not need a negotiator to help you settle your claim.  They will charge you a percentage and are more interested in getting their percentage than taking care of you.  The faster it is settled the sooner they get paid.  I have found that the insurance adjusters are generally reasonable and will work with you (or your contractor).

Materials for repair and manpower for repair will be scarce.  Just be patient.  It is going to take time. Your contractor is probably going to tear out many houses before they start rebuilding , and besides you want to dry for weeks to make sure everything is dry.  Run the AC if it will (they survive floods surprising well) the cool dry air will help in the drying.

The work crews will be gathered from all over, particularly the unskilled tear out crews.  Make sure valuables are secured.  There will be more than one waiting for an opportunity to sneak upstairs and take something that will not be noticed for a while.  Ours was my wedding set that I got in 1975.  I had taken them off and put them in my jewelry box and kind of forgotten about them while all the work was going on.  When I went to get them they were gone.  They were not monetarily valuable, but they were irreplaceable.  Well maybe they weren’t, but there was a significant carat upgrade.

I will pray for anyone that got flooded.  It was a difficult experience for my family.  However, my daughters went through three floods, worked hard on the cleanup and rebuild, and built huge amounts of confidence along with the heartache.  By working together a family can conquer anything, and as long as everyone is safe, it is only stuff.

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