If you need assistance with your clean-out, please print and complete the Property Owners Assistance Request and either scan (or take a picture with your phone) and email to email@example.com or bring it to Kingsland Baptist Church–20555 Kingsland Blvd, Katy, TX 77450 (Sunday-Friday).
Here are a few general instructions on how to proceed if your home was damaged by flood waters. Every situation is unique so the guidelines may or may not fit your specific situation, so they are intended to apply at a high level.
Your safety is primary so be very careful going back into your house, especially if the flood waters left a deposit of mud as it will be extremely slippery until completely dried.
Be alert for snakes and other critters that may have found your home to be a safe haven during the flood, especially if the water had significant depth or was in your home for more than a few hours.
WARNING: The floodwaters were most likely septic. Be sure to clean any items you intend to keep that were in direct contact with the flood waters. These items should be thoroughly cleaned with a disinfectant solution. Also during the clean-up operation if you get even a minor scratch it should be cleaned and treated with antibiotics immediately, then covered with a bandage before you return to work.
IF YOU HAVE FLOOD INSURANCE, before you do anything contact your insurance carrier and determine what specific requirements they may have to support your claim for damage.
In general you will need to show physical evidence as to the height the water was in your home. Photos of the water mark is usually sufficient, but they may ask you to leave a portion of the sheetrock or a door in place that has a watermark on it, until an adjuster physically visits your home.
For any personal belongings, furniture, appliances, or other items that are not salvageable, i.e., items that you take to the curb, document with pictures and a very detailed list that gives a complete description of the item and the number of items damaged.
IF YOU DO NOT HAVE Flood Insurance and plan to submit a request for assistance from FEMA, go to the FEMA website and register immediately so that you are in the queue. Then follow the same guidelines as above to document your losses. For the FEMA inspector, be sure that you leave something with a watermark on it in place (section of sheetrock, a door, etc.) so there is no dispute as to the height of water.
The overriding theme of clean-up is get all the water and mud and anything that got wet out of your home as quickly as possible.
The depth to which your home was flooded and the length of time the water was in your house will have a tremendous impact on what to do during the clean-up phase.
Water that was only 2-3” deep for few hours, usually only requires that carpets, pads, wood flooring, and baseboards be removed.
As the water gets deeper and stays longer, you will need to remove sheetrock and wall insulation to a level where it is dry (less than 20% moisture content) above the watermark or where there is no mold.
If the water is in the house for 7-10 days or longer, it is highly likely that mold will grow well above the water mark, so it could be necessary to remove the sheetrock all the way to ceiling, even if the water was only 24” or less.
Deeper water levels could also necessitate the removal of kitchen and bath room cabinets. Solid wood cabinets are sometimes salvageable but cabinets made of particle or pressboard are generally not salvageable if they got wet at all.
If at all possible removal of sheetrock should be at a controlled cut. Measure the height you plan to remove it to, snap a chalk line, and scribe along that line with a sharp knife or power tool that produces little dust and then break out below the scribed line. A couple of things to keep in mind, contractors will charge you more to replace 24” of sheetrock than they will for 48” because the cost of labor to cut a 24” piece outweighs the cost of the material. If you are doing the repairs yourself, then cut as needed, but recommend 12”, 24”, or 48” to minimize the waste.
Most times if the water was about 12-18” for any length of time, doors, door trim, door frames will also need to be removed. Hardware can be salvaged.
Any appliances, such as refrigerators, dishwashers, clothes washers and dryers where the water was deep enough for the motor to get wet are damaged beyond repair and should be moved to the curb. If the power has been off and/or the refrigerator is not working for more than 24 hours, DO NOT open the door unless you have a very strong stomach. If you move the refrigerator to the curb, make sure to tape the door shut for safety reasons.
If the water got above the electrical outlets, then turn off the breakers that service those outlets until an electrician can check everything. If the water level was above the light switches, then shut off the main breaker until the electrician can check your system.
Once all the wet material has been removed and the studs exposed, they need to be sprayed with a mold mediation product. Shockwave (only available online) is recommended as the mold in Texas is becoming resistant to bleach, but bleach at 50-50 dilution is better than nothing. If you use bleach, make sure to wear gloves and eye protection.
After the electrical system has been confirmed to be ok, run ceiling fans, box fans, etc., to help facilitate the drying process. If the A/C is functioning run it at 72-73 degrees continuously. It is extremely important to keep the house cool to the maximum extent possible to reduce mold formation. Do not leave the windows open for prolonged periods of time as the humidity will slow down the drying process. The use of dehumidifiers will help, but the cost does not justify the end results as everything will usually will be dry before the contractor can arrive to start the repairs.
Keep receipts and document your expenses, especially if you have flood insurance. Follow FEMA guidelines on their website in this regard.
If you have several items that are salvageable but need to move out of the house, the garage usually is a good storage place, but if it is not large enough and you need to rent something like a POD unit, these are going to be in great demand so get your name on the rental list early.
Be patient but persistent. The repair process will not go nearly as fast as you want. There will be be long periods of waiting for adjusters, there will be material shortages, and shortages of reputable contractors.
There will be unscrupulous contractors in the area preying on the victims, so be extremely careful and vet them very well before you give them any money.