Flood Recovery Booklet

Nine Steps to Recovery

Step 1 Take Care of Yourself First

Care for Yourself

Care for Your Children

Stay Healthy

Step 2 Give Your Home First Aid

Make sure it is safe to go back

Check your home before you go in

Enter carefully

Rescue the most valuable items

Protect your home from further damage

Drain your basement carefully

Hose the house and its contents

Step 3 Get Organized

Call your insurance agent

Begin listing the damage

Check for structural damage

Plan your recovery

Step 4 Dry Out Your home

Floodwaters affect a house three ways:

Lower the humidity

Sort contents

Discard debris

Drain ceilings and walls

Dry ceilings and walls

Dry floors

Step 5 Restore the Utilities

If your furnace, water heater, stove or other gas or oil appliances were flooded to the level of the burners, turn off the valve on the pipe to the appliance.

Flood insurance and federal disaster assistance programs will often help you replace flooded gas and oil appliances.

If you want to keep a gas or oil appliance, have it cleaned professionally.

If you are not experienced and comfortable working on your utilities or appliances, call a professional.

Step 6 Clean Up

Every flooded part of your house--walls, floors, closets, shelves, contents--should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. Some can be done by you, others should be completed by professionals.

Cleaning supplies checklist

The American Red Cross and other organizations often distribute cleanup kits after a disaster. These contain things like a broom, mop, bucket and cleaning supplies.

Cleaning Tips

Step 7 Check on Financial Assistance

How much you can rebuild and replace depends on what you can afford. Four sources of financial assistance can help you through recovery:


Government disaster programs

Volunteer organizations


Step 8 Rebuild and Floodproof

Don't just build it back: build it back better. Floodproof your home by remodeling or rebuilding it using materials and methods that will prevent or minimize damage from future floods.

There are five floodproofing strategies:

Remember that local building codes usually require a building permit before you start to repair or alter your home.

If you need a contractor to help you rebuild, talk to several before signing anything. A good contractor will agree that you take the following steps:

Step 9 Prepare for the Next Flood

Buy flood insurance

Even if you have flood proofed your home, you still need insurance to protect you from unexpected events, such as a flood that rises higher than your flood protection level.

If you have insurance, find out if you have the right kinds of coverage, and if the coverage is adequate.

Remember that homeowners insurance policies do not cover damage from floods, but you can purchase flood insurance under the National Flood Insurance Program through any licensed insurance company or agent.

Develop a flood response plan

Develop a response plan based on your flood protection level, local warning procedures and the amount of warning time you will have to respond before the flood comes.

Develop a checklist of steps to take before flood waters reach your home:

Help your community implement a flood protection program

There are many ways to protect your community from floods:

"Nine Steps to Recovery" is from: Repairing Your Flooded Home, a joint publication of FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency, an independent federal agency) and the American Red Cross. Copies of this booklet are available at no charge, from FEMA. To request a copy, call FEMA at 1-800-480-2520 (request "FEMA 234--8/1992").