If Your House Flooded, Here’s What You Need To Do…

If you’ve recently entered the Flooded House Club due to the effects of Hurricane Harvey {we will call him that to be official, even though we have some four letter words we are calling him off the record}, our hearts are broken in a million pieces for you.  We are so, so, SO sorry you are here. It isn’t fair.  It sucks.  And we wish we could just wave a magic wand and have this whole horrific nightmare come to an end.  But we can’t.  So instead, we’ve got some guidance to help you start taking those first steps to rebuild … and come out even stronger on the other side.  From a self-proclaimed flood expert who has unfortunately been through this gut wrenching situation before, here’s a few steps you can take to begin the rebuilding process once you know your property is safe for reentry.


Call your insurance company now to make a FLOOD claim — not a homeowner’s claim. {Homeowner’s insurance will not cover flood damage, unfortunately.}  There are lots of details and logistics to navigate, and every policy looks a little bit different.  However, there are typically a few options to consider – even including raising your home above base flood elevation if you file for ICC {Increase Cost for Compliance}.  Again, this varies depending on your specific policy, and your insurance company should be able to help you navigate what’s best for your specific situation.

If your vehicle was also impacted, call your auto insurance to file a claim for that as well. Once you have a claim number, you should be able to get a rental car. As a heads up, rental cars will be in HIGH need right now, so get the process started immediately and pack your patience when dealing with rental car companies.


When you place your initial call to FEMA, be prepared with the names and social security numbers of the members of your family.  Be sure to write down your case number and a point of contact, and keep this information handy as you will need it throughout the application for assistance process. Generally, FEMA will provide living assistance for a few months following the flood, but of course, this is on a case-by-case basis and your point of contact can provide accurate details for your situation. Either way,  keep ALL bills and receipts in a file! 


Call an established and reputable water recovery service, get on their list, and begin the remediation process.  And just so you’re prepared… Know that MANY remodeling companies or individuals will be contacting you.  Please, please, please check Angie’s List and thoroughly vet them to ensure they are reputable before paying any amount of money.  Sadly, there are horrible people out there who prey on situations such as this.


Take pictures of EVERYTHING! Don’t forget water lines, air condition compressors, windows, furniture, and any other contents in your home. {Try to capture brand names and model numbers to be thorough as well.} In addition, be sure to mark a water line on the outside and inside of your house to show the adjuster how high the water got. It is tempting to get back into your house and start the rebuilding process right away, but you cannot make a claim if you do not have proof of items lost and all damages endured. 


Once you determine your plan of attack for moving forward, you will likely need to begin securing a rental and/or storage unit. Again, these will be in HIGH need right now, so the sooner you can begin this process – the better.  If needed, you may also want to begin researching moving companies who can help with this process as well.


As you begin the clean-up process, determine what can be salvaged and what can’t – then rally the troops, roll up your sleeves, and begin…

  • Start to pull up carpets and cut out drywall {minimum of 4 ft high}. Then, set all of the soggy waste on the curbside.
  • Remove any limbs, debris, or trash that has made its way indoors.
  • Discard of anything porous that got wet and cannot be saved – including mattresses, bedding, curtains, upholstered furniture, etc.
  • Throw away all food items that have been exposed to flood water.
  • Open all doors – including closets and cabinets.
  • Use fans to begin moving the air throughout the house.  If you can obtain blowers and dehumidifiers from a home improvement store, then begin running those.
  • Once you are safely able to do so, turn on your air conditioner and set it to low.  {Just be sure you have the all clear, as ducts may contain debris and / or bacteria which can be blown throughout your home.}
  • Be sure to let all furniture and contents dry completely before attempting to wrap and/or pack for a move.
  • Clean all non-porous surfaces {tile, counters, stainless steel, etc.} of your home with a disinfectant.


Throughout the entire process, you will need to remain organized! Carry a notebook and pen with you at all times. If you have an apron with a pocket {think waiter or handyman type}, wear it so you have a place for your notebook, pen, phone, permanent marker, scissors, etc. 


Last, but not least… Say YES to any and all help offered. Wonderful people all around you will be asking what they can do. And while clean up and packing are obvious answers, remember not everyone can work at the flooded house. Here are a few things that helped me personally…

  • Laundry :: Even if your clothes did not get wet, they will need a good washing to remove foul odors and any filth that may have settled. Literally everything in the house that is being saved will need to be washed. My laundry was all over Houston at various friends’ houses. People came in and took all of our clothes. Friends even took items to the dry cleaners for me – such a lifesaver!
  • Washing Dishes & Utensils :: The good news is that many kitchen items can be saved.  The bad news is that EVERYTHING will need to be disinfected and washed.
  • Store Important Items :: Friends kept my valuables {jewelry, china/crystal, guns, and even my dog} until we were settled in a rental. This was a huge stress reliever so that I would not have to keep track of important items as we had to move several times.
  • Dry Out Pictures / Artwork :: If any of this can be saved, have people take items to their homes to dry out. It was so special to get back some of my children’s artwork and photographs. 
  • Additional Help :: Of course, childcare, housing, meals, and donations are always helpful and so appreciated too!
  • IMPORTANT NOTE :: Since life will be busy and you likely won’t remember who is taking/doing what, ask them to send you a quick email outlining the items they have or the things they will be helping with. {We were literally collecting items a year after the flood!}


  1. Recently, I’ve been noticing that heavy rains tend to flood our outdoors which never happened before. That is why I am quite alarmed as I think that there could potentially be some flooding that could happen in our area soon. Your advice to have the remediation services at the ready as they will be extremely helpful when it happens. Honestly, I might get my house raised if it’s possible as I’ve heard there are services that could do this too. Thanks!


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