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After a Flood
 
A building that has been damaged by rising water is a dangerous place. Adults should take precautions. Children should be kept out of the flooded property until it has been inspected, repaired and cleaned.

Guidelines for cleaning up after a flood
(You may want to print the Guidelines and put them in your Emergency Supply Kit in case you can't access your computer during or after a flood.)

Structural

  • Do not go into a building until all floodwater has receded and emergency officials say it is safe to return.
  • Avoid contact with remaining floodwater as it is often contaminated.
  • Do not enter a building if the framing or foundation is damaged. Often, damage to the foundation, walls or roof cannot be seen. If you aren't sure, have a building inspector check the integrity of the flooded structure.

Foundation damage from flooding 

Professional checking damage 

Utilities

  • Have a professional check for damage to water, natural gas, electric and sanitary sewer lines.
  • Do not enter a flooded or wet building if the power is on. If electrical circuits have gotten wet, get the power turned off at the main breaker and leave it off until the structure has been professionally repaired and inspected.
  • Report any downed power lines to the local power company.
  • Never operate portable generators inside a building or garage. Exposure to carbon monoxide can be deadly. Keep generators away from doors, windows and vents.
  • Don't smoke or use candles or lanterns inside a flooded building unless you are certain the natural gas has been turned off.
  • If you suspect sewer line damage or backups, don't use toilets. If water pipes are damaged, don't drink water from the faucet.
  • If you have a private well and it was flooded, do not turn on the pump. There is danger of electrical shock.
  • Do not drink well water if the well was flooded. The well water might be contaminated. Have well water tested for contamination.
  • Hire a professional to repair damaged septic tanks or wells.

Important after-flood phone numbers in Charlotte-Mecklenburg 


Staying healthy

  • Avoid floodwater. It may be contaminated with oil, gasoline, raw sewage, pesticides or other chemicals.
  • Floodwater may have left bacteria or viruses inside your home. They could cause illness when you breathe them in or if they enter through a cut in your skin.
  • Listen for news reports on whether the community's water supply is safe to drink. If you're not sure about the safety of your water, bring drinking water to a rolling boil for one minute to kill dangerous bacteria.
  • Almost any material that is wet for more than 24-hours can grow mold and mildew. Some molds produce toxins that can make you sick.

Clean up after a flood. 

Aftermath of a flood. 

After Returning Home

  • Take pictures of the damage for flood insurance claims.
  • Contact your insurance agent to discuss claims.
  • Watch for loose plaster, drywall or ceiling that could fall.
  • Be alert for snakes and other displaced wildlife that may be in your home.
  • Remove all of the floodwater, dirt and debris
  • Remove all carpet and padding. The remaining floor and sub-flooding must be dried out and completely disinfected. Wet walls should be stripped to the studs and insulation removed. Leave walls open to dry.
  • Clean out and dry crawl spaces.
  • Pump out flooded basements slowly (about one-third of the water per day) to avoid structural damage.
  • Check the heating and air conditioning systems. Interior components will need to be inspected, cleaned and disinfected by professionals. Air vents should be removed, disinfected and reinstalled.  Air ducts that got wet will need to be replaced.
  • Throw away any food or medicine that may have been in contact with floodwater.
  • Clean and disinfect everything that got wet.
  • Salvage what you can. Clothing can usually be laundered or sent to a professional dry cleaner. Mattresses, upholstered furniture, and furniture made of particle board likely will have mold growing inside and should be thrown away.
  • Properly dispose of household chemicals and hazardous materials that may have gotten wet.
  • Repairs may require a Building Permit and a Floodplain Development Permit.

    Trash from a house after a flood.

Weblinks:

Cleanup of flooded buildings from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services

Flood preparedness and recovery information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Downloads: 

Red Cross booklet: Repair your Flooded Home 

Underwriters Laboratories brochure: After the Storm/Floodwater Safety

Information sheet: Evaluating Water-Damaged Electrical Equipment