Monday, March 31, 2008
10:31 AM

Proceed with caution when entering flood-damaged homes

By Marsha Alexander, University of Missouri Extension Housing and Environmental Design Specialist, alexanderm@missouri.edu

 (BLUE SPRINGS, MO July 16, 2007) Recent flooding has resulted in substantial structural damage for many local homeowners and renters. Before attempting repairs or cleanup, check for structural and utility damage to see if it is safe to enter the building. Utility safety, including both electricity and gas, is extremely important after a flood.

 Watch for electrical shorts and live wires. Be sure to disconnect electrical service, including the main switch and all circuits, before entering the building the first time. If the main switch is located in the basement, pump out all floodwater before attempting any work on electrical systems. Remove covers and clean all outlets and fuse or multi-breaker boxes. Dry contacts and spray with cleaner/lubricant. Have an electrician check for ground faults and other unsafe conditions and equipment before reconnecting systems. Equipment and wiring that appear to be safe soon after flooding may fail prematurely and cause a fire or shock hazard. Replacement is often the best option. Circuit breakers that have been submerged should be replaced. Turn off any outside gas lines at the tank or meter, and let the building air out for several minutes to remove gas fumes. 

Although many homeowner insurance policies do not cover flood damage, contact your insurance agent before beginning the cleanup process. Your policy may include coverage and you do not want to begin cleanup before an insurance adjuster addresses damage. Provide your name, address and a current phone number. Accurate recordkeeping is important: List all cleanup and repair bills; flood-related living expenses; ands actual losses, such as furniture, appliances, clothing and other personal items. Take photos of the damage before you begin cleanup.

Contact local, state and federal offices for answers to specific cleanup questions. University of Missouri Extension can help with food and water safety issues, cleanup and restoration questions and referrals. For more information contact your local Extension Center or visit extension.missouri.edu/cemp/flood.html.

For more information:
Marsha Alexander
Housing and Environmental Design Specialist
University of Missouri Extension
2700 E. 18th St., Suite 240
Kansas City, MO 64127
Ph. (816) 482-5850
Fax (816) 482-5880

University Outreach and Extension David Reinbott, reinbottd@missouri.edu
Agriculture Business Specialist
Last modified: March 31, 2008