Use caution when returning to buildings...because structures can be weakened by floodwaters.
Once authorities give the okay to return to the flooded area, the first step in evaluating your
home is making sure that it's safe to enter. Remember, walkways and other surfaces can become slippery
and uneven following a flood, so use caution. Wear a mask if molds and other pollutants are a threat.
- Check with authorities about safely dealing with power and gas lines.
- Check for structural damage. Look for leaning walls, sagging roofs and ceilings, and weakened support
columns. If you see any of these things, don't enter until you've made some preliminary repairs.
- Air out your home for several minutes before entering, if necessary.
- Turn off the main electrical breaker, even if the power is off to the neighborhood. If the main disconnect is
inside the building, call your utility company for assistance.
More damage may be done by pumping out flooded basements too soon or quickly. Water in the basement helps brace the walls against the extra pressure of water-logged soil outside. If water is pumped out too soon, walls may be pushed in or floors may be pushed up.
Be aware that rodents, snakes, and other animals may have taken refuge in storm debris in your home.
Use a stick to move debris, and make noise when approaching.
When entering a flooded home for the first time you should:
- Unplug all flooded appliances (with the power off).
- Take photos to document damage.
- Remove keepsakes and other valuables, and begin salvaging them.
Many objects can be saved if you begin salvage within 48 hours of the flood receding.
- Begin removing mud and other debris from the home while still damp.