Flooded House: How to Recover After a Storm

A flooded house always causes anxiety, but then you also have to worry about the keepsakes you left behind. 

Returning home after a flood can be very emotional, especially if there’s significant water damage. But it’s important to stay focused, roll up your sleeves and get to work.

Follow these tips to stay on track.

Flooded downstairs in a home, seen from the living room with the staircase in view
For your safety, avoid wading in standing water (and any creatures that may be in it!) (DepositPhotos)

Upon Returning to a Flooded House…

The first time you return to a flooded house, you need to do two important things: make sure the structure is safe and prevent further damage.

That means doing the following:

  • Look for structural damage and make sure the home hasn’t shifted. If you’re unsure or need a trained set of eyes, get a professional inspection.
  • Turn off the home’s utilities (gas, water and electricity) so you’re taking no chances and creating new hazards
  • Take precautions — use personal protective equipment such as gloves and a mask to avoid direct contact with chemicals, mold, and even rodents attracted to water. Avoid wading in standing water in a flooded house.
  • Begin the drying out process by opening windows and running fans over wet surfaces.

Private mortgage insurance folder for home finance
When it comes to contacting your homeowners insurance company after a flood, do it now, not later. (DepositPhotos)

Contact Your Insurance Company

Homeowners insurance exists to help you pay for catastrophic damage so you don’t have to cover it with your own funds.

And now’s the time to put it to use! It’s important to immediately file a claim after your house floods.

Keep these tips in mind:

  • Call your insurance company — and call them often. In the aftermath of severe weather that affects hundreds or thousands of homes, it may hard to reach them, so be persistent!
  • If you’re having trouble reaching the insurance company, use all forms of communication available (phone, email, text, and social media). Their phone may be busy, but they’ll still see your email or direct message. Your goal is to “get in line,” regardless of the method.
  • Be prepared with photos and videos of the flooded house, along with an inventory of the damage. Take as many notes as you can — the list will be very long and you need to account for every single thing, or it won’t be covered.

Repairing a burst pipe after a flood
Repairing a home after a flood can be a costly and extensive job.

Dealing with Water-Damaged Items

A flooded house doesn’t mean everything inside the home is ruined. But you will need to determine which items to trash and which ones to salvage.

Here are some guidelines:

  • Throw out any “soft” items or surfaces. If an item acts like a sponge and retains water, it needs to go. (This includes upholstered furniture, pillows, curtains, bedding and rugs.)
  • Cut out and toss drywall and insulation that has come into contact with floodwater. Always cut 6 inches above the water line.
  • Clean hard surfaces with hot water and bleach
  • Spray remaining surfaces with an antimicrobial cleaner to kill mold spores.

Want to learn more? Watch the video above, featuring Danny Lipford’s appearance on The Weather Channel

Further Reading


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