- Be safe, be smart
- Injuries? Dial 9-1-1. Tell the 911 operator about the situation and take advice from them.
- Listen to the weather reports for emergency information. They will let you know about local, state and federal relief plans as appropriate.
- Pay strict attention to instructions from emergency management and law enforcement agencies. Obey all curfews and emergency orders that are issued.
- Stay away from nearby disaster areas unless local authorities request volunteers. (Read 5 Steps to Volunteering After a Disaster for advice.)
- Avoid driving until conditions have improved. Watch or listen to your local news for road closure information.
- Debris and washed-out roads may make driving dangerous. Check vehicles for damage before using and give way to emergency vehicles at all times.
- Stay away from flooded roads, rising streams and storm drains. The power of moving water could sweep you into trouble and you do not know how deep the water actually is.
- Report all fires and downed power lines to the fire department; lightning and downed power lines can cause fires.
- Lost power? Read 5 Things to Do Before and After A Power Loss.
- Avoid wading in standing water. It may contain glass or metal fragments, or serve as a conductor for electricity from downed lines you may not be able to see.
- Floodwater is full of bacteria, waste and garbage. Use plenty of soap to control infections and seek medical attention if needed.
WHN TIP – The Media: Floods make captivating news stories. A reporter may ask to speak with you. Remember, it is your choice whether or not to grant an interview. It is OK to pause and reflect for a moment on your and your family’s welfare before you decide whether to answer their questions.
Authorities, Organizations, and Contacting Others
Within minutes of a flood, local and regional authorities — such as a sheriff or police officers, firefighters, ambulance services and state or municipal service workers — may be dispatched to severely affected areas.
Relief organizations and volunteers might be dispatched as well. Read our 9 Resources to Help You After a Disaster article. It details various organizations that can help you, what the Red Cross can provide and more.
It’s a hard time; yet remember to tell friends and relatives that you are safe. Read our article on contacting others for quick tips on telling loved ones about what happened and that you’re safe.
Depending on the severity of the flooding, the time it takes to receive financial assistance may vary. Remember to contact all possible options for assistance:
- 6 Steps to Applying for FEMA assistance
- 3 Steps to Filing for Federal Disaster Relief
- 11 Common Misconceptions about Disaster Aid
- 2 Types of FEMA Disaster Aid
These articles offer information and suggestions for navigating FEMA, the Small Business Association (SBA) and the federal disaster relief and assistance process.
If You Have Insurance — Filing a Claim
Read our article on filing an insurance claim for information on questions to ask your agent, how to keep detailed records and the claims process.
No Flood Insurance?
If you don’t have flood insurance through the federal government, your recovery from a flood loss will be based on your own resources and help from your community.
You may also qualify for federal disaster assistance through FEMA’s Disaster Application Center (DAC).
Returning Home After Evacuating
WHN Expert TIP – Water Damage Clean-Up Tips: Greg Kistler, a ServPro cleanup and restoration specialist from South Washington County in Minnesota, provides water damage cleanup advice in this podcast.
Be safe, be smart. If you’ve been displaced, all you may be able to think about is getting back home. Wait! As tough as it may be to hear this: a swift return may not be best for you, your family or your property. You may jeopardize your safety as well as your family’s financial security (by hindering your insurance claim).
More importantly, you must wait until authorities have declared it is safe to return to your home. If they have given the go-ahead, please read Returning Home After a Disaster: What Supplies to Bring and 5 Tips for Returning Home After a Disaster.
For more articles on spotting and documenting storm damage, returning back home and undertaking home repairs after a storm, check our Flood – ARTICLES AND MORE section.
Re-stocking Emergency Kits
- Replace items used from your Home Disaster Kit and your Car Emergency Kit. (Download the pdfs.)
- Review and update your emergency plan.
- Take the time to evaluate what you would do differently if you had the chance.
- Be sure to evaluate all aspects of your emergency preparedness plan: evacuation plan, home and family preparedness, disaster kits, etc.
- Read our Flood – Get Prepared section for more preparedness tips.
The information provided here is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical or legal advice. These tips are from first responders, lawyers, insurance agents and people who have shared real-life advice; always check with a doctor, lawyer or appropriate professional you trust before making any legal or healthcare-related decisions.
Thank You …
A special thank you to the first responders, emergency workers, government officials, lawyers, insurance agents and people who gave us their time and insight.