Flood Damage Cleanup

Quick Summary

If you have experienced flood damage in your home, it will be important to contact a professional water damage restoration company as soon as possible. That will not only help minimize potential structural issues, but it will also help you get back to normal much faster.

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What is Flood Damage?

Flood damage can be a devastating experience, causing weeks – if not months – of disruption to your daily routine. However, the process of fixing this damage has advanced to where it’s become something of a science. By contacting a water damage restoration professional as soon as you can, there’s a good chance you could significantly minimize those disruptions.

The following is some information on how homeowners may be able to prevent floods from happening as well as what to expect if floodwaters do ever enter your home.

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Home Flood Prevention

Floods can originate from various causes, including large storms (hurricanes and cyclones), flash floods, and home water leaks. It can affect nearly everyone, but those most at risk live near coastal regions and those that live on a floodplain or area that is on flat ground nearing large rivers.

There are some ways you can help prevent water damage from occurring should a natural disaster or some other catastrophe cause floodwaters to enter your home. It’s important to have a solid flood plan in place for your family.

Here are a few steps to consider.

  • Learn Your Risks: The next time there’s heavy rain, notice how water runs off the surfaces around your home, such as your driveway. This will give you an idea of the areas of your home at the highest risk so you can contact a professional for dry-proofing services.
  • Make Sure You’re Covered: Your homeowners insurance policy (or property owners insurance if renters) will likely not provide coverage for flood damage. You’ll either need to buy an additional policy or buy a flood insurance policy through the National Flood Insurance Program. Ask your insurance agent about your flood protection options, and be aware of high deductibles.
  • Prepare Your Home: Consider installing a sump pump or foundation vents. A sump pump can remove flood water from your basement, while foundation vents help force water through your home, rather than the water accumulating and causing flood damage. Remember that just a few inches of water can do a lot of damage!

Home Flood Mitigation

The Federal Emergency Management Association, or FEMA, estimates that homeowners can eventually save four times the amount of money they spend on mitigation if a flood occurs.

Talk to a licensed contractor and/or electrician to learn other ways to reduce the risk of a future flood, and to get your home back to normal faster if a flood takes place.

Home Flood Insurance

It’s important to reiterate that homeowners will typically not be able to make insurance claims in the event of a flood if they don’t have a special policy that offers coverage. It can be used to cover not only structural damage but also damage to your personal possessions, furniture, and other items in your home.

If you live in an area prone to flooding (more on this later), you should seriously consider purchasing coverage from the National Flood Insurance Program. Either shop around different insurance companies to find the most affordable policy.

Flood Cleanup

If water surges into your home and flood damage has occurred, contact a professional water restoration company as soon as possible so cleanup can begin. Flood losses can be devastating but you must act quickly to remove the water. Remove as many items as possible that might have been contaminated by floodwaters, such as toys, carpeting and upholstered furniture.

Professionals will work to remove all water, and then use sophisticated equipment to dry affected areas as quickly as possible. They will also use powerful cleaning agents to completely sanitize flooded areas and make them safe to return to your home.

Home Flood Protection Barriers

For areas commonly at risk of flooding, such as those below sea level or on a floodplain, there are products you can find online that you can place around your home if flooding is imminent. They contain polymers that absorb water before it can get inside. However, many of these products do not absorb salt water, and flooding can often include sediments.

Famous Storms that Caused Flooding

There have been tragic instances of catastrophic flooding in just about every area of the United States.

Here are three of the worst storms that caused Flooding.

  • Hurricane Ian (2022)
  • Hurricane Harvey (2017) – This hurricane dropped a staggering 60 inches of rain in the Houston area between August 24-September 1, 2017. The resulting flooding led to 89 fatalities, destroyed more than 200,000 structures, and displaced at least 30,000 people. It also caused more than $126 billion in flood damage.
  • Hurricane Katrina (2005) – Anyone who saw footage of the flooding in New Orleans caused by this storm will never forget it. People had to scramble to their roofs because their homes were completely inundated. Katrina killed more than 1,800 people in Southern Louisiana alone and caused nearly $104 billion in damage.
  • Johnstown (1889) – Any list of significant flooding events in U.S. history will likely include the Johnstown Flood of 1889. A dam on the Little Conemaugh River located 14 miles upstream of this Pennsylvania town, burst on May 31 after days of torrential rain. Flood lines were evident nearly 90 feet above the river, and a reported 40-foot wave hit the town. More than 2,200 died and damage was estimated at more than $12 billion in present-day dollars.

Most Common Flood Damage Areas

Certain parts of the U.S. are at a higher risk of flood damage than others.

Here are the top three high-risk flood locations in the USA:

  1. Florida – Since Florida is a peninsula, surrounded by water on three sides, it is at the highest risk of flooding. About 3.5 million people are at risk for coastal flooding, while another 1.5 million face the danger of inland flooding.
  2. Louisiana – Louisiana has more than 950,000 people who live in areas that are only one meter above sea level.
  3. California – More than 1 million Californians live in flood-prone areas throughout the state.

How Much Does Flood Cleanup Cost?

The cost of cleaning up flood damage will depend on how much water has accumulated.

  • If there is 1-4 inches of standing water, cleanup will usually cost about $8,000.
  • At 18 inches or more, the cost skyrockets to more than $26,000.

DIY Flood Cleanup

Always leave extensive water damage cleanup to a professional water restoration company. However, if you only have a minimal amount of damage, you may be able to perform some cleanup on your own. Here are some of the most important things you’ll need to do.

  • Remove porous materials as soon as possible – This includes things like fabric, insulation, carpet, etc. If anything is soaked, you’ll likely have to throw it away because it’ll be damaged beyond repair.
  • Disinfect affected areas – You’ll need to use bleach or other household cleaners to sanitize any parts of your home that have flood damage. If you come in contact with contaminated water, that could make you very sick.
  • Dry out the damaged portions of your home – The faster you remove moisture, the less water damage you’ll have. Use fans and rent a large dehumidifier to dry wood, walls, and other areas.

Again, these tips can only be followed if you have relatively minimal flood damage. If floodwaters have caused significant damage, please call a professional water restoration company.

If you’re ready to address the flood damage in your home, find an IICRC-certified water damage expert near you.

Water Damage Advisor

The Water Damage Advisor content team is made up of multiple contributors, writers, and editors. We are your resource hub for anything related to water damage, mold and restoration needs that you may be challenged with facing.

4 References
  1. Federal Emergency Management Administration Fact Sheet: Mitigation for Homeowners (n.d.). https://www.fema.gov/sites/default/files/2020-07/mitigation_homeowners_fact_sheet_2017.pdf
  2. Federal Emergency Management Administration. (2021). Flood Insurance. https://www.fema.gov/flood-insurance
  3. USA Today. (2019). In Hurricane Barry's wake, here are the worst floods in American history. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/weather/2019/07/17/worst-floods-in-american-history/39692839/
  4. US News & World Report. (2012). 10 States Most at Risk of Flooding. https://www.usnews.com/news/slideshows/10-states-most-at-risk-of-flooding
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