I have been asked by a lot of you what you can do to help. As some of you know Denise and I flooded during Allison and learned quite a bit about the process. Here are some things to keep in mind as well things you can do to prepare for what comes next. Some of this information may not pertain to you but may help guide you in some direction.
Because of the shock from flooding will persist for days and weeks, a lot of people you go to help may be confused and disoriented. In some cases, you may need to help make decisions for them, but the following information may be helpful.
Immediately call your flood insurance provider to start your claim. Call your auto insurance provider to start your vehicle claims…REGISTER WITH FEMA!! (www.disasterassistance.gov) They are amazingly fast believe it or not. Choose direct deposit option and text notifications.
Before The Cleaning Starts
1. Take photos! Take photos of everything that you can. The most important ones for your insurance are the water lines for all side of your home as well as your interior walls. The best way to do this is to take a photo with something of a reference. If you can grab a yard stick, have that in every photo for measurement. The perspective will help adjusters review your images. After Allison, adjusters could not get to us for weeks if not months. These photos are vital for your recovery.
2. ANTS! There will be fire ants on EVERYTHING! Be sure to use gloves and be very careful when you do begin to move items around.
3. Mosquitoes are going to get very bad. If you can bring anything to your friends, it will be gloves and repellent.
Now For The Clean Up
2. Because of Flood Insurance, you will only get a percentage of your content losses. Back to Photographs. You will want to take a photo of everything that water touched. EVEN IF IT IS NOT SOMETHING, YOU THINK IS NOT IMPORTANT. If you bought a roll of toilet paper and you need to replace it, take a photo of it. If you had $300 worth of ground beef in a freezer, photo it. You get the idea.
Here is how this process works well. Instead of photographing every single thing, make a space somewhere that items can be staged. Lay out as much as you can fit in a photo and then make a list of each item. You will use this list later. On your list you will need:
-what room it was in when flooded
-any model number and make
3. Here is the order of getting stuff out I will be taking:
The best way to start getting stuff out is to start with any food that will begin to rot. Try to put this in separate trash bags from flood junk. There is going to be a lot of trash and debris everywhere, so the critters will start coming out.
Get the furniture out and if it is salvageable then start cleaning it up. Flood water is nasty so clean it up fast.
If you have photos sitting in water, DO NOT TRY AND SEPARATE THEM. Photo paper (NOT INKJET PAPER) can get wet. You can take a bucket or container and fill it with clean water then submerge the photos is the water. Let them sit a little and then you can gently pull them apart. Try to hang dry so that the water will drip off of the paper. This process also works with DVDs and CDs however, if you will see them apart without letting them soak you will destroy them. Inkjet prints, sorry those are gone.
RUGS AND CARPET:
Get all the rugs out fast. These are mold nests and get nasty. Also, carpet needs to come out. But be careful, there are lots of opportunities to get cut. YOU HAVE TO LEAVE A 3 FOOT X 3 FOOT section with carpet pad for the adjuster to look at when they do arrive.
If you can start knocking out the sheetrock, cut above your flood line. The insulation is going to be soaked so get that out too. Be sure to wear gloves and long sleeves when doing this. Also, if you power is working, you may want to shut it off during this period, so you don’t accidentally cut through a line and electrocute yourself.
Sheetrock comes in 4X8 sheets if you got less than 4 feet try not to cut above 4 feet if you got more than 4 feet just cut above the line because it’s going to have to all be replaced.
After you have done this, you will need to photo everything again. Make sure you get every wall and include where your electrical boxes are located and photo that too.
Let’s talk about insurance a second.
This is a very frustrating part of the process. One thing we were unaware of with Allison was that Flood Insurance is not Homeowners Insurance. If you have flood insurance, then you are good but will be limited because it is a federal program. Flood insurance does not cover any living expenses. So your hotels or apartments you are going to stay in will not be covered. However, there is assistance through FEMA for specific hotels. (Transitional Housing Program through FEMA)
When we flooded during Allison, our insurance rep told us to move into an apartment and that our homeowner’s insurance would take care of it. This info was not true, because home owners insurance DOES NOT COVER FLOODS. This is why the area deemed a disaster is important. If you did not have flood insurance, you will need to get with FEMA as soon as possible. Even if you have flood insurance, you still need to use FEMA. There are other programs you can utilize that may help. FEMA will also refer you to the Small Business Administration (SBA) which can provide very low-interest loans for the difference of loss that insurance doesn’t cover up to $200,000.
I’m not going to lie, this is going to be a real pain in the ass dealing with the insurance, but it is hard when you have all the stress and trauma from the flood mounting. If you are helping a flood victim, they will need your level head to navigate the system.
I hope that helps get you started. Everyone that is in need of help will be grateful for you. They may not express it right away, they may even get fussy with you, but just remember it is not you that they are upset with. Also, it’s going to be very emotional, make sure you take care of yourself and give yourself time to process what is happening.
Below are some links with more info.
LIST OF THINGS TO BRING TO YOUR FRIENDS HOUSE:
Gloves – work gloves and rubber gloves
Bug Spray – Mosquitoes will be bad, and they are going to get worse
Masks – It is going to smell, and there will be lots of molds
Crow Bars and Saws – For removing sheetrock and carpet
Extra Shoes and Socks – Your feet are going to get wet.
Wear Protective clothes – Long sleeve and jeans
If you have a bug sprayer and some bleach bring it so you can disinfect the walls to top any mold growth.
There is more, but this is all I can think of now.
We will add more as we think about it. Good luck and thank you for all the support. All this water will just make Houston sparkle more when the sun comes out.