Flooding has become a harsh reality in the UK, and there is no denying that it will get worse over time. From 1960 until now the increase in flooding has been gradual but consistent. Where intense rainfall once only fell every hundred days or so, it is now occurring once every 65 to 70 days. This causes a nationwide impact. Flood insurance is seriously needed for flood recovery.
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This Flood Recovery Guide is meant to offer practical advice when things become so overwhelming that it is difficult to even know where to begin. This will help you to have a guide that can take you step by step through the flood recovery process as well as the months that follow.
On average flood recovery can cost an estimated £30,000. Unfortunately many renters and a substantial amount of homeowners are not covered due to the rising cost of insurance. For these people there are still options.
If you are uninsured there are charities and grants in place to help you through the process. With each flood being different and all families unique the process you have to endure may be different than your neighbour, but this guide is meant to walk you through regardless of your situation.
Flood Recovery is Possible!
Flood recovery can take months, even a year or more to complete. Homes have to be restored and belongings replaced. The dwellings have to be dried out thoroughly before the restoration process can even begin otherwise mould will cause sometimes irreparable damages. For some homes and businesses it may be too late.
They have to be completely gutted to even start the drying process. Insurance claims may not come immediately, and the process can become quite overwhelming. Just because it seems like things will never get better does not mean that is a reality. Things will get better, all you have to do is follow the steps and take action quickly. The longer you wait the longer it will be before relief comes.
The Drying Process is Critical
The method of drying you use in your home or business will make all of the difference in the restoration process and whether or not you end up battling mould. It is important to be able to get dependable help with this. Trying to do it yourself is oftentimes a recipe for disaster. You also have to act quickly to remove water and begin the drying process. Every second counts, and it is essential to take immediate action.
The BDMA (British Damage Management Association) has also published a piece regarding many needed flood recovery procedures and things that you can expect to encounter throughout the recovery process. It is available on their website which you will find in the links at the end of this Flood Recovery Guide.
Your Emotional Wellbeing
In sight of the kayos you cannot lose focus on caring for yourself. With the months and weeks after a flood being so stressful both emotionally and physically on all of the household members (especially the elderly and children) it is only expected that there will be an emotional fallout.
It is not uncommon for sadness, depression, anger and grief to be a factor for everyone involved. These are normal reactions to the devastating effects of a flood, but sometimes help may be needed. There is no shame in reaching out for help for you or a loved one.
Some helpful Hints in Coping with the Emotions that Come After the Flood:
Acknowledge your emotions and allow yourself to feel them. Do not be afraid to talk about what you are feeling, and do not feel ashamed of what you are feeling. Check to see if there is a local flood recovery centre in your area.
Check also with the local faith based organisations, professional councillors or volunteer agencies in your area. You can also contact the Red Cross for emotional care referrals. You may also contact your personal church Pastor for individual counselling and support.
Do You Have Flood Insurance?
If you are insured then it is urgent to contact the company that you are insured with immediately. This should be among the first calls made. Many offer a 24/7 hotline for emergencies, and make no mistake, flood damage is an emergency. A loss adjuster will make contact with you relatively quickly at which point the replacements and repair needs will be assessed as well as how much of the damage will be covered.
Keep in mind that if many people are having to call in on their claims that it may take a few days to get this process started. Do not put off getting things like the drying process started! Other things you can be doing while you wait will be addressed later in this Flood Recovery Guide.
Things to Remember
Make sure you ask whether or not a disaster restoration firm will be needed, or if one is available for the cleanup process. Otherwise, you will need to make these arrangements, and they will need to be done fast. The cleanup process is essential to preventing further damages.
Be sure that you are clear on whether or not your insurer is going to pay for the work you have to arrange. Equipment for hire and emergency pumping services may be something that you have to deal with, so have a clear understanding on what you have to pay for and what is covered by your claim.
When you pay for services, equipment and repairs make sure that you have documents and receipts for your claims coverage. Temporary Accommodation is something else that you will want to discuss with your agent. Some of these may be a hotel, a bed and breakfast or rent house or a static caravan. Oftentimes these are covered by your policy. Making sure your call goes in right away will put you at the top f the list, and it is likely that many others will also be requesting these services. Do not hesitate to take care of these things.
Another note is that historic dwellings will require special procedures for flood repair as not to cause extensive and irreparable damage. You can contact the Conservation Officer in your area to determine what laws are in effect for your structure.
Make sure to not leave out a request for repairs that will offer preparation and protection from future flooding. Make sure that any contractors or other professionals who may be drying your home follow the most recent ‘PAS64-2013’ Code of practice procedures.
It is also a good idea to take noted of all conversations that take place between you and your insurance agent, as well as contractors involved in the cleanup and restoration process. All emails and letters should be saved as well.
Use Cautionary Measures When Going Back To the Home
When you go into the home, especially for the first time after a flood you may not be thinking clearly. Make sure you are using precautionary measures to stay safe. Make sure electric is off to eliminate the chances of being electrocuted. Be careful of slippery surfaces, and outside you will need to be looking out for manholes, ditches, broken glass and other sharp objects or hazards.
Be prepared to see your home in ruin once the water levels have dropped. Many times wet and muddy are just the tip of the iceberg. There will most likely be a musty or sewage like smell that accompanies the damage, and a lot of things tumbled out of place. Also, a lot of things will not be savable.
Wear waterproof garments, wellington boots and gloves. A face mask is a good idea as well. mould can start to develop rather quickly. There could also be raw sewage in the water or other harmful substances.
NEVER take your pets or your children to a flood site. Do not allow them to play in flood waters.
Avoid attempting to salvage things that you know in your heart are gone. They could be contaminated. Also do not turn on anything that can cause sparks or introduce an electrical current.
What to Know Concerning your Utilities
Rule number 1, you are better off safe than sorry. If you even suspect a gas leak then call the emergency number for the Gas Company and DO NOT enter the home or business. A free phone number for them is 0800 111 9990800 111 999 FREE. It does not hurt to contact them anyways to have the gas cut off for safety reasons before you reenter the home. The same applies to the electric company.
In the meantime do not stand in water that could be carrying an electrical current or touch anything that is electric while you are in standing water. If it is safe for you to do so then turn off the main switches, and consult an electrician.
If you use propane or butane contact a professional to ensure that the cylinders have not been damaged. You can also contact the Fire and Rescue Services in your area for more information or help with damaged cylinders.
If you are receiving your eater from a mains supply then check with the local water company for safety guidelines and advice. If you are getting your water from a well or a natural source then contact the Environmental Health Department for more information.
Homeowners with a septic tank or something similar will need an engineer to make sure there are no posed health threats due to possible damages. This is not a corner that can be cut.
Please note that all wiring, sockets and the like will need to be examined by an electrician before they will be safe to use. Supply pipes and appliances that run off gas will need to be looked at by a professional engineer.
What if you are Not Insured?
If you do not have insurance flooding can be devastating, and the recovery process may prove challenging. Your main objective should be finding temporary shelter for you and your family. Remember, a lot of others are in the same boat, so act quickly.
For cleanup and assistance contact your local Red Cross. Check to see if a Flood Recovery centre is accessible to you, and if you are a renter contact your landlord for aid with temporary housing until the recovery process is completed. Oftentimes this is something covered by their insurance.
Some people who have been flooded choose to reside on the upper levels of the home until cleanup is done. This should be a last resort and avoided if at all possible.
What if You Are Forced to Do it yourself?
You have to move about carefully. Look for damages from top to bottom, and list everything that you see. Pay special attention to floors, ceilings and stairs. Remember, plaster that has gotten wet is very heavy and also very dangerous. While you may be tempted to jump in and get it done immediately, you will be better off sitting down with your findings to make a plan.
Prioritise the list that you have. Water being pumped out and drying the home is critical and time is of the essence. There is a fee, but the Fire and Rescue Service may be able to help you with the pumping.
Damaged windows and doors will need to be repaired for security purposes. Make sure that the AIRBRICKS are clear of debris so that air is able to circulate under the flooring. This is not a solution for drying of the structure, but is does help tremendously.
Use a market to note the line on the wall where the flooding reached in each room going by the waterline. This will be utilised later in the recovery process by builders in the determination of what needs to be stripped.
Remove the carpets and other floor coverings from the home. You may also have to shovel out dirt and mud from the floors, but you want the drying to begin ASAP. You can cut away carpet in strips to make it easier to remove since it will be heavy.
Go ahead and gather your valuables and salvageable items that were untouched. Those that were in contact with the floodwaters will need to be stored in plastic bags for decontamination and cleaning.
Throw away all foods both sealed and unsealed. All cosmetics and canned foods that come in contact with the waters will also need to be thrown out. Store all of the trash and items that must be thrown out away from the home.
Drying, Cleaning and Restoring
There is a lot of strain and major stress that comes with the cleanup from a flood. It can bring about health issues, and fatigue as well. Work carefully and don’t over exert yourself.
According to the BDMA “An area is considered ‘clean’ when contaminants, pollutants and undesired substances have been removed from an environment or surface, thereby reducing damage or harm to human health or materials.”
Remember, the road to restoration is long, but flood recovery is possible, and there is help in the community that you to turn to.
You can also go to The following Websites for further Information. Note that this is not an exhaustive list.
National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux. http://www.adviceguide.org.uk/
National Flood Forum http://nationalfloodforum.org.uk/
The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings http://www.spab.org.uk/advice/technical-qas/technical-qa-31-floods-and-old-buildings/
The Speed Drying Company http://www.speeddryingcompany.co.uk/
Know Your Flood Risk Launches New Flood Recovery Guide to Support UK Victims through the Clean-up http://www.sensorsandsystems.com/news/top-stories/corporate-news/32495-know-your-flood-risk-launches-new-flood-recovery-guide-to-support-uk-victims-through-the-clean-up.html#sthash.z6v91fgk.dpuf
http://www.knowyourfloodrisk.co.uk/sites/default/files/FloodRecoveryGuide_Interactive.pdf more information on flood recovery.
http://www.knowyourfloodrisk.co.uk/ *PAS stands for ‘Public Available Specification’