As this article is being crafted, it is pouring rain outside. Actually, it has been pouring for hours over the past few days. It is reminiscent of a few years ago, when Cordova suffered through a season of floods. Flooding, as each Cordovan knows, is definitely one of our local hazards. So, if it floods again in Cordova, what happens next…after the waters recede? “What should we do?” you may wonder. A bit of preparation and education, now, could significantly ease the stress and disorientation during a flood.
First of all, (you’ve heard THIS before!) have your family emergency kit ready. The items that will be of particular help after a flood are flashlights, first aid kit, boots and gloves (waterproof please), drinking water, a battery operated radio, a camera to record your damage, tools (crow bar, pliers, etc), LOTS of trash bags, and LOTS of cleaning supplies. Think mud.
After a flood, but before you begin to clean your home, make sure to take the following into consideration. First, before you enter, walk around the entire building and inspect for any structural damage. As you enter with your flashlight, be certain that the roof, stairs, ceiling, and floors are also structurally sound. Advance slowly and cautiously. Check the basement for standing water and only begin pumping it out when there is no more water standing in your yard. Prior to that time, you will pump for naught. Once started, pump only 2-3 feet of water at a time…then wait 24 more hours before pumping again. You must not pump it out too fast because of the danger of walls collapsing.
There will be a long list of “things to do” after you finally determine it is safe to start the actual cleanup. Make sure appliances are carefully unplugged and remain so until they are thoroughly dry. Make certain that gas lines are turned off until inspected, that drinking water is purified, that the house remains well ventilated, and that your electricity is turned off at your circuit box. Additionally, remember that most surfaces will be very slippery and dangerous as you work. Again, think mud.
Next, make a list of what needs to be done…and make a plan to prioritize those tasks. Rescue your most valuable items first, shovel the wet mud out before it dries, photograph the damage, and then protect your home from added damage by covering holes in the structure with tarps, plastic, or boards. Make temporary structural repairs in order to brace all affected areas. Call your insurance agent as soon as possible and determine how you can initiate a claim.
And then…one thing at a time…start following your plan. Be ready. Be Prudent. Be prepared. Think get rid of mud.