Five ways to minimise flood damage

Flood damage can seem irreversible and overwhelming, but recovery is achievable if tackled systematically. In the wake of flooding in your home, follow these five practical steps to start restoring your property and recouping your losses.

Storm and flood damage recovery image

Return cautiously

Once you’ve been cleared by emergency services to return home, conduct an initial assessment of the building and look for any risk to your person. Examine the outside thoroughly before entering to check for visible signs of structural deterioration.

The Red Cross recommends dressing in waders or hard-soled shoes, with a hard hat, dust mask and gloves for extra protection. It’s also a good idea to bring a camera (to record the damage), a torch, a first-aid kit, bin bags, cleaning supplies and a tool kit. Ensure that your gas and electricity are turned off and do not use any electrical appliances until they’ve been professionally examined.

Document damage

On that first visit home, your impulse might be to begin cleaning up immediately. However, to prepare for your flood insurance claim you’ll need to comprehensively document the destruction caused by the flood.

Separate intact belongings and furniture from damaged possessions and take photographs of every damaged item. Compile an inventory of affected property, including anything now missing, taking note of value, approximate date of purchase and, if possible, gathering existing receipts.

Salvage sensibly

Given the levels of bacteria found in floodwater, some belongings must be discarded and others will almost always be irreparable. Food, cosmetics, medical supplies and soft toys should all be thrown out; mattresses and upholstered furniture are also usually beyond help.

Professional assistance is necessary to maximise chances of successful and safe recovery of some items. This usually includes all electrical appliances, carpets and veneered furniture. Bear in mind that the cost of repair should be weighed against the cost of replacement, as the latter is often more affordable.

Get clued up

Many possessions are salvageable only if you know the correct techniques and are able to apply them – it can pay to head to your local library and research cleaning methods for the items in your inventory.

Some damaged photographs, for example, can be preserved by being gently rinsed in cold, clean water, stacked between layers of greaseproof paper, placed in a sealable food bag and frozen. This will preserve them until you have time to defrost, air-dry and return them to their rightful place on your mantelpiece.

Flood-proof and prepare

As disheartening as it may be to face the possibility of a similar situation arising in future, this is a necessary consideration if your house is in a high-risk area.

The government advises requesting a flood risk assessment from a professional to establish your home’s vulnerabilities and determine which preventative measures will be most effective. Although truly extreme weather can get the better of flood-resistant materials, simple fixes such as flood boards and air brick flood covers can really help to secure your home against rising water.

In the event that flooding does occur, the expert team at Harris Balcombe can be enlisted to represent your interests to insurers, many of whom may attempt to minimise claim payouts.

Our loss adjusters and chartered surveyors assist clients with everything from organising alternative accommodation to appointing contractors, creating the space and time needed for recovery to begin.

Call our 24/7 helpline on 0330 022 9179 for a free no obligations assessment

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