If you've gotten back to your home in Florida and discovered it flooded, or a neighbor has informed you your house has water inside, here are the things you could do first.
Safety measures if you enter a flooded home after the storm
There could be health and injury threats from a flooded house. These are tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
If you have standing water in your home and can turn off the main power from a dry location, then go ahead and turn off the power. If you must enter standing water to access the main power switch, then call an electrician and don't do it yourself.
Have an electrician check the house’s electrical system before turning the power on.
If you smell gas or suspect a leak, turn off the main gas valve, open all windows, and leave your house immediately. Notify the gas company or the police or fire departments, and do not turn on the lights or do anything that could cause a spark. Do not return until you are told it is safe to do so.
If the house has been closed up for several days, enter briefly to open doors and windows to let the house air out for a while (at least 30 minutes) before you stay for any length of time.
If your home has been flooded and has been closed up for several days, assume your home has mold.
If your home has been flooded, it also may be contaminated with sewage.
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Who do I call if my house is flooded?
If you have flood insurance through FEMA, call FEMA immediately and have the paperwork with your policy number in front of you.
FEMA will open a claim and direct you to mitigate damages as much as possible.
Who do I call if I don't have FEMA flood insurance?
Standard homeowners and renters insurance policies typically do not cover flood damage. You can apply for disaster assistance at DisasterAssistance.gov. Here is a pdf for help with assistance.
Disaster survivors may also access FEMA via smartphone by downloading the
application from www.fema.gov or through their mobile provider’s application store. Other contact options:
Phone: Disaster survivors may call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-3362 to register for assistance or check their application status.
TTY: Disaster survivors who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability and use a Text Telephone (TTY) may call 800-462-7585.
Text: Disaster survivors who use 711 or VRS (Video Relay Service) may call 800-621-3362.
I have FEMA flood insurance, who do I call if Hurricane Ian flooded my home?
National Flood Insurance Program policyholders, contact your insurance agent or company to file a claim. Information about filing a claim, documenting damage, working with your flood insurance adjuster, making repairs and understanding your claim payment is available on FEMA.gov.
Anyone who doesn’t know who their insurance agent or company is, needs to start a claim or get general information may call 877-336-2627.
Can I get advance payments from FEMA flood insurance?
Yes. According to FEMA.gov, policyholders should be sure to ask their insurance company. They may be eligible for up to $20,000 to jumpstart recovery.
Those who have damage from both wind and flood will need to file two separate claims: a homeowner’s insurance claim for wind damage and a flood insurance claim. The policies for each claim may be with different companies and you may have to work with more than one insurance company representative.
How do I get a contractor out to my home if my house was flooded by Ian?
Your local homeowners insurance may work with companies that do flood mitigation, repairs and restoration. Be sure anyone you use is licensed and insured.
What do I do with my belongings after a flood?
FEMA.gov has these tips and a help sheet for saving your family treasures:
Air-Dry. Gentle air-drying is best for all your treasured belongings. Hair dryers, irons, ovens, and prolonged exposure to sunlight will do irreversible damage.
Handle with Care. Use great caution in handling your heirlooms, which can be especially fragile when wet. Separate damp materials.
Clean Gently. Loosen dirt and debris on fragile objects gently with soft brushes and cloths.
Salvage Photos. Clean photographs by rinsing them carefully in clean water. Air-dry photos on a plastic screen or paper towel.
Prioritize. You may not be able to save everything, so focus on what’s most important to you.
What if my car, truck or other vehicles were damaged or destroyed by flood water?
The first thing to do when your vehicle is flooded is to call your insurance company, and which insurance company may depend on where your car got flooded. For those who have or can obtain photographs of the car during the storm, those are convenient, but not critical, in making a damage claim.
Flooded car?: Here’s what to do (and what NOT to do)
If your car was in your home's garage, a call to your homeowners insurance company would come first and get direction from your agent. But it may also be necessary to call both your auto insurance company and FEMA if you have flood insurance.
This article originally appeared on The Daytona Beach News-Journal: Florida flood from Ian: FEMA help and what to do with water damage