Kansas City, Mo –The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers safety tips to residents returning to check on flood damaged property and encourages them to file flood insurance claims.
Potential health/safety hazards after a disaster 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; chemical hazards from spills or storage tank breaks, respiratory and heat-related illnesses; and the worsening of chronic illness from overexertion.
For some, flooding continues to be a concern, if a flood is likely in your area, you should:
- Listen to your radio or television for information.
- Be aware that flash flooding can occur. If there is any possibility of a flash flood that could affect you, move immediately to higher ground. Do not wait for instructions to move. If in your vehicle, Turn Around, Don’t Drown.
- Be aware of streams, drainage channels, canyons, and other areas known to flood suddenly. Flash floods can occur in these areas with or without such typical warnings as rain clouds or heavy rain.
- United Way’s 2-1-1 is a helpful resource before, during and after disasters. Keeping this number and an up-to-date family communication plan handy is a must-do when preparing for emergencies (see below).
BEWARE OF Hazards
- First, check for damage. Check for structural damage before re-entering your home. Contact professionals immediately if you suspect damage to water, gas, electric or sewer lines.
- Throw away food that has come in contact with floodwaters.
- Boil water until authorities declare the water supply safe to drink.
File your Flood Insurance Claim
- Call your insurance agent who handles your flood insurance to file a claim. Have the following information with you when you place your call: (1) the name of your insurance company (your agent may write policies for more than one company); (2) your policy number; and (3) a telephone number/e-mail address where you can be reached.
- Take photos of any water in the house and damaged personal property. If necessary, place these items outside the home. Your adjuster will need evidence of the damage and damaged items (e.g., cut swatches from carpeting) to prepare your repair estimate.
- List damaged or lost items and include their age and value where possible. If possible, supply receipts for those lost items to the adjuster. Officials may require disposal of damaged items. If so, try to keep a swatch or other sample of the items for the adjuster.
- Remove wet contents immediately to prevent mold. Wet carpeting, furniture, bedding and other items holding moisture can develop mold within 24 to 48 hours. During the first 48 hours, you can help control mold growth by cleaning with non-ammonia detergents, soap, or commercial cleaner and disinfecting with a 10 percent bleach solution (1-1/2 cups of bleach in a gallon of water). Then dry and monitor for several days. If any mold develops, throw the item away.
- Thoroughly dry out the building’s interior. Portable dehumidifiers are useful, and rental costs may be covered under your flood policy. An air conditioner can also be used to start the drying-out process.
- Help damaged walls dry out. If the walls are damaged, take photographs of the baseboard. Then remove the baseboard. Knock small holes at floor level in the drywall, between the wall studs. This will let moisture trapped behind the drywall seep out.
- Have your furnace checked for damage. Your water heater may work, but if the floodwater covered part of, or the entire tank, the insulation between the walls may be damaged. Obtain an estimate to replace the damaged furnace and water heater.
Flooding Resources for Missourians include:
- http://www.fema.gov/hazard/flood/fl_after.shtm – is a link to FEMA-recommended steps that should be taken immediately after a flood.
- http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/floods/after.asp#cleanup – is a site maintained by the Center for Disease Control with helpful information on health/safety concerns that can result following a flood.
- http://www.211helps.org/ - United Way’s 2-1-1 is a helpful resource before, during and after disasters. Keeping this number and an up-to-date family communication plan handy is a must-do when preparing for emergencies. Information about local services, by zip code, is available online. Where 2-1-1 phone service is not available, dial 1-800-427-4626, or TTY 866-385-6525.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
- Contact your local building inspections or planning office or county clerk’s office to get more information on local building requirements before repairing your structure. If you can’t find a local contact, call your state NFIP coordinator. Contact information can be found at www.floods.org/statepocs/stcoor.asp.
BE FLOODSMART: More severe weather could be on the way, so prepare today!
- Stay informed. Monitor local weather forecasts, watches, and warnings.
- Don’t drive through floodwater. Most deaths in floods occur when people try to drive through flooded roadways. Turn around, don’t drown!
- Install straps or additional clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame structure. This will reduce roof damage.
- Be sure trees and shrubs around your home are well trimmed.
- Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
- Determine how and where to secure your boat.
To file a flood insurance claim or learn more about purchasing flood insurance to protect your property, visit FloodSmart.gov, or call 1-800-427-2419.
Follow FEMA online at www.twitter.com/fema, www.facebook.com/fema, and www.youtube.com/fema. Find regional updates from FEMA Region VII at www.twitter.com/femaregion7. The social media links provided are for reference only. FEMA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies or applications.
FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.