Plan & Prepare
Floods: What to do After a Flood or Flash Flood
(Much of the information on this page is adapted from information provided by the American Red Cross and FEMA).
After A Flood: If You Have Evacuated
- Return home only after authorities advise it is safe
to do so. Keep tuned to your local radio and TV stations
for recovery information.
- Beware of downed or loose power lines. Report them
immediately to the power company, police or fire department.
- Drive only if absolutely necessary. Avoid flooded
roads and washed-out bridges.
- Enter your home with caution.
- Beware of snakes, insects and other animals driven to higher ground by floodwater.
- Open windows and doors to ventilate and dry your home.
- Do not use candles or open flames indoors. Use a flashlight to inspect for damage.
- Check refrigerated foods for spoilage.
- Use the telephone for emergency calls only.
- Check for structural damage before reentering
your home. Do NOT go in if there is a chance the building
- Let a relative know you are back at home. Tell
them how to get in touch with you, if the phone lines are
After A Flood: Steps For Everyone
- First Step: Your Insurance Claim
- If your home has suffered damage, call the agent
who handles your flood insurance to file a claim.
If you are unable to stay at home, make sure to say where
you can be reached.
- To make filing your claim easier, take photos of
any water in the house and save damaged personal property.
If necessary, place these items outside the home. An insurance
adjuster will need to see what is damaged in order to
process your claim.
- FEMA offers these
tips for filing your insurance claim.
- Check your home for structural damage. Do NOT stay
if there is a chance the building will collapse.
- Do NOT use matches, cigarette lighters or other flames
in the home, since gas may be trapped inside.
- Keep power off until an electrician has inspected
your home for safety.
- Inspect the utilities in your home.
- Check for gas leaks - If you smell gas or hear
a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and quickly
leave the building. Turn off the gas at the outside main
valve if you can and call the gas company from a neighbor's
home. If you turn off the gas for any reason, it must
be turned back on by a professional.
- Look for electrical system damage - If you see
sparks or broken or frayed wires, or if you smell hot
insulation, turn off the electricity at the main fuse
box or circuit breaker. If you have to step in water to
get to the fuse box or circuit breaker, call an electrician
first for advice.
- Check for sewage and water line damage - If you
suspect sewage lines are damaged, avoid using the toilets
and call a plumber. If water pipes are damaged, contact
the water company and avoid water from the tap. You can
obtain safe water by melting ice cubes.
- Take pictures of any damage for insurance claims.
- Throw away any food, including canned goods, that
has come in contact with floodwaters.
- Until authorities declare your water supply is safe, boil
water for drinking and food preparation.
- Make sure to follow local building codes and ordinances
when rebuilding. Use flood-resistant materials and
techniques to protect your property from future flood damage.
- You can salvage water-damaged books, heirlooms and photographs
tips from the National Flood Insurance Program.
For Further Reading
- American Red Cross:
- Repairing Your Flooded Home, in English as pdf
and Spanish as pdf.