The recent flooding in Acadiana is among the worst in the state’s history. The following checklist will help as we focus on efforts to recover and rebuild homes and businesses across South Louisiana and protect ourselves against future disasters.
Call Your Insurance Agent
By now you may have likely completed this step. Good records are essential for insurance claims, applications for disaster insurance and income tax deductions. Photos and/or videos of all damage inside and outside of your home are crucial. The amount of loss covered will depend on your personal insurance policy, which may include homeowners, flood, and wind and hail coverage. For a flash flood, such as the ones we experienced here, flood insurance is the most important.
Dry Out Your Home
Water has the ability to seep into everything, including appliances, walls, ceilings, closets and furniture — even food. Water damage can affect your home in three major ways:
1. Damage to electrical, wood and other types of home materials.
2. Mud, silt and other contaminants promote serious health hazards.
3. Dampness brings with it growth of mold and fungus.
First, dry out your home. Start by lowering the humidity by opening all doors and windows (provided that the humidity is lower outside than it is inside), closets and cabinets. Use dehumidifiers, fans and desiccants (dehumidifying agents). Patience is priority; drying out your home can take up to several weeks, and if it is not allowed time to fully dry, the musty odor will be a permanent fixture.
Sort water-damaged property into three categories: save, discard and garbage. Place the items you’d like to save in a safe, dry space. Place the discard items outside until the adjuster comes, so he or she can assess them. Garbage should be put outside for pick up.
The cleanup process will be much easier if you have water, electricity, heating and sewage disposal, so restoring basic utilities is a priority. If you are covered by flood insurance, your policy should be able to help you replace flooded appliances. Before turning on any gas, oil or propane systems, check for leaky or cracked pipes, as these can be extremely dangerous when the utilities are restored.
Although sewage disposal is one of the first services to be restored after a flood, it is possible sewage lines have gotten clogged by mud or debris. Check to see if the main line is clogged. If it is, you will have to call your local sewage department. Remember that your septic system will not work until ground water level is below the distribution lines.
Check Financial Assistance
The financial deficit after a flood is extremely overwhelming, and it will take months — even years — to fully recover. Volunteer organizations will continue to assist but as time goes on, that will wane. Other organizations, like the American Red Cross, United Way, the Salvation Army, and civic and church groups, will offer more sustained support. All types of assistance are important. Make sure you are networked to access them all.
After a flood, be on the lookout for advertisements for businesses offering deals or sales to certain areas affected by flooding. Many grocery stores may have a donation bin. However, be wary of “flood sales” as the items may be discounted because of water damage.
Floodproof Your Home
Unlike lightning, flooding will probably strike the same place twice. In flood prone areas, flood proofing is important, fairly inexpensive, will increase the resale value of your home and will make the cleanup for the next flood much easier. Options include elevation, relocation or building floodwalls. Additionally, you can also invest in dry or wet flood proofing. Dry flood proofing means sealing a building to keep all areas below flood lines watertight. Wet flood proofing involves modifying a building so that water will cause only minimal damage. In this case, building materials are replaced with materials that are waterproof. If a full-scale flood-proofing plan is beyond your budget, a simple, yet effective option is to move your main utility systems to a higher level.
DISASTER ASSISTANCE CONTACTS
Since the recent flooding, it is clear that Acadiana has already started a speedy recovery but the work continues. Here is a list of flood and disaster resources for reference.
American Red Cross
Phone: 1 (800) 733-2767
Acadiana Home Builders Association
Phone: (337) 981-3053
Local Emergency Management and Information
Facebook: Acadiana Flooding Message Board
Real time information and regular updates on resources
Information on debris disposal and recovery assistance
State: gohsep.la.gov and emergency.louisiana.gov
Phone: 1-800-728- 7825
US Small Business Administration
Disaster Recovery Centers
Transitional Shelter Assistance Hotels
Phone: 1 (800) 621-3362 or via TTY 1 (800) 462-7585
National Flood Insurance Program
Phone: 1 (800) 621-3362 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and
select option 2
Insurance Contact Information for Louisiana
Repair, Rebuilding and Clean Up Information