Life after Storm Desmond: how to cope with flooding

The recent floods have wreaked havoc over the north of England, but there is life after Storm Desmond. It’s important to remember that help is available and that you should be entitled to compensation if you’ve been badly affected by the weather. Read on for our practical tips on coping with the immediate aftermath of the disaster.

Storm and flood damage recovery image

Make sure it’s really over

Few things are more demoralising than beginning to clean up only to be hit again a few days later. Wait for reliable confirmation that the worst has passed before attempting any significant repairs.

Take things one step at a time

If you don’t know where to start, it’s best to give yourself some time to think. Rather than rushing in, carefully prepare for your three primary objectives: to understand and assess the damage, document it, then begin the cleaning and recovery process.

Steps one and two can be initiated on your first visit back to the property. Begin by taking photographs of every damaged item – your insurer will send a loss adjuster who will need these snaps as evidence. Your chances of getting fully compensated are much better if you can provide loss adjusters with a complete picture of the damage before assessment takes place.

When it comes to removing and cleaning objects, many people make the mistake of starting with large electrical appliances that are already beyond salvaging. Your oven, fridge and dishwasher may be expensive and important, but they’re unlikely to be reparable if they’ve been sitting in dirty water for days. Focus on less obviously affected items that will suffer most from being left in the developing damp and mould, such as wall-mounted televisions.

Ask for help

Your neighbours will probably be facing the same difficulties as you, but don’t be afraid to turn to unaffected friends and relatives. If anyone asks what they can do to help, request the use of their washing machine. Hand over all clothing and linens that were damaged by the water and ask for them to be put through two cycles before you make any decisions on what to save or bin.

If you’re on your own, don’t despair. Flood relief site Spirit of Cumbria has a message board on which many kind volunteers have offered their services – you can post your specific request under ‘Needing Help’. If you’re faced with more specialised jobs such as pumping water or reporting gas leaks, the government has also posted a list of contacts that can provide professional assistance on its Prepare for a Flood page.

Push your insurer

It’s unfortunately common for insurers’ response times to become considerably slower when an area is badly affected by flooding, causing significant stress to claimants. Early estimates suggest that Storm Desmond has caused £500 million worth of damage; it’s essential that all insurers acknowledge the extent of this disaster and support victims in their hour of need.

After similar storms in 2007, 2009 and late 2013/January 2014, Harris Balcombe was able to step in and take effective action for homeowners making flood insurance claims. In addition to chasing insurers and getting the most out of existing policies, our expert teams assist policyholders in appointing contractors. We organise suitable temporary accommodation and ensure that the process of getting back to normal is completed as efficiently as possible.

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

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