The Environment Agency - In England and Wales, the Environment Agency is responsible for building, maintaining and operating flood defences and for flood warning, including issuing warnings to the public. The Agency also provides the Floodline Warning Service on 0845 988 1188 . You can listen to recorded flood warning information for your area or speak to an operator for advice 24 hours a day.
You can also register with the agency to be informed by telephone or mobile of any flood warnings likely to affect you.
Local Authorities - Works with the police, fire and rescue services and the Environment Agency to co-ordinate the response during severe flooding, is responsible for setting up centres for people evacuated from their homes and arranging temporary housing and deals with road closures caused by overflowing drains and sewers.
Preparation - Do's.
When flood starts - Do.
After the Flood - Do.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
If you havenít talked to your insurance agent yet, redouble your efforts to do so now! Find out EXACTLY what documentation is needed for reimbursement Ė some companies may ask you to keep a piece of your soggy carpet, for example, to prove loss Ė and how much work you may and may not do on the property before the adjuster arrives.
WHAT TO USE AFTER A FLOOD
STAY SANEÖ Prepare yourself emotionally, have Kleenex ready and a shoulder to cry on. Set a realistic and manageable schedule and donít try to rehabilitate your house in one day. Keep the family together, but donít take infants (they tend to put things in their mouths), anyone who is pregnant or has health problems or pets.
AND STAY SAFE... Injuries are common during recovery efforts. Take every precaution. Donít enter a building that has serious structural damage or signs of imminent collapse. If you smell gas or suspect a leak, retreat to a safe distance and call authorities immediately.Wear protective clothing and rubber gloves when cleaning. If there has been a back flow of sewage in the house, wear rubber boots and rubber gloves. Disconnect main electrical switches and circuits. Do not combine ammonia and bleach as a cleaning agent.
ASSESSING THE EXTERNAL DAMAGE... Take stock of the house from the outside. Look for visible, physical damage. Are there cracks in the foundation? Are the walls or floors slanted? If you see obvious damage, you are going to need professional help. Check the exterior door. If it is swollen with moisture only at the bottom, it can be forced open. If it sticks at the top, your ceiling may be ready to fall in. You can force open the door, but wait a few minutes to make sure nothing falls. If doors are too swollen, you may have to enter through a window. Lean inside and check the ceiling before you do.
ASSESSING INTERNAL DAMAGE... If you didn't do so before, turn off the electricity. It is recommended using a wooden stick to turn each circuit breaker to the off position. Unplug all appliances and lamps, remove light bulbs and then take off outlet covers for any electrical outlets that got wet. (Once you are sure the electrical system is undamaged Ė preferably after a licensed electrician checks it out Ė you can turn the breakers back on.) Check the ceiling for signs of sagging. If necessary, use a stick to poke a hole at the edge of the sag so that water can begin draining. Donít stand under the sag. Remove mirrors and heavy pictures from walls; they can fall from wet surfaces. Check furniture to make sure nothing is likely to topple. Document the damage by taking pictures of each room as you inspect it. Start making list of damages for your insurance company. Rescue valuables first. Remove them to a dry place, or place in plastic bags. Open windows if weather permits. This will start the drying-out process.
CLEAN-UP... Decide what can be saved and what canít. If in doubt, throw it out. Start with your refrigerator. If it was underwater, it canít be saved. If you think you can salvage it, take a deep breath, cover your nose, and throw away everything in the refrigerator. Unplug the appliance and take out all removable parts. If there is one, empty the defrost water disposal pan. Wash all parts thoroughly with hot water and rinse with disinfectant made from one teaspoon chlorine bleach to each gallon of water. With a solution of hot water and baking soda (or 1 cup vinegar or household ammonia to 1 gallon of warm water) wash the interior, including doors and gaskets. Leave the door open for the appliance to ventilate it.
WARNING: Do not mix ammonia and bleach as it can release poisonous gas.
Strip the house of all furnishings impacted by flood waters. Cover salvageable items with plastic and leave outdoors to dry. If the carpet got very wet, it has to go, since carpets can harbour mold. Saturated carpet is heavy, so remove in 6-foot sections, roll them up with the pad and take it to the dump or put it out with the trash. (High quality oriental or wool rugs may be able to be saved; try not to fold them and get them to a cleaner as soon as possible.) Throw away anything porous that got wet: bedding, books and papers, upholstered furniture, kitchen utensils. Remove linens and clothing to a dry place; they may be able to be laundered and restored. Non-porous dishes can be cleaned after the water is declared safe to drink and the sewer lines are clear. Donít allow water to sit on the floor for long; use a wet vac or squeegee mop to remove it promptly. Any food including canned food that has been touched by flood water must be considered contaminated and discarded. Start the interior drying-out process. There are several ways to do this, some of which will have to wait until itís safe to turn on the electricity: Open up closet and cabinet doors. As cabinets dry, you should be able to remove swollen drawers. Use fans to move the air. Use dehumidifiers for the main rooms and desiccants (materials that absorb moisture) in cupboards or other enclosed areas. These include chemical dehumidifying packets used to dry out boats, cat litter made of clay, or calcium chloride pellets used to melt ice in the winter. Hang the pellets in a pillow case in the closet and place a pan beneath to catch dripping water. Start removing waterlogged surface materials. Wallboard acts like a sponge; even several inches of water can be soaked upward in what is called a wicking effect. Wallboard will have to go. Plaster survives a flood better than wallboard, but takes a very long time to dry. Clean all non-porous surfaces with a disinfectant. Ceramic tile is nonporous, so it can be cleaned as usual, although the grout, which is porous, may require special effort. Nonporous materials such as countertops or stainless steel also can be cleaned.
Use the above information as a general guideline, but understand that every situation will be different. If youíre overwhelmed or donít know where to begin, seek help before taking on the task of recovery, starting with your insurance agent if available. And be prepared for the extra energy that the emotional toll of cleanup will require. As many have said about the larger rebuilding process, itís a marathon, not a sprint. So, too, is recovering your home.
Get clothes and linens out of those damp closets and drawers and onto an old-fashioned clothesline
SORT CLOTHING INTO PILES, separating what is worth salvaging and what isn't. Then, separate into laundry and dry-cleaning piles. Avoid storing clothes in plastic bags because it will speed mildew.
DIVIDE THE LAUNDRY PILE into colours and whites, then sort the lights and darks by fabric type. First remove all loose or caked-on dirt and rinse the items in cold, clean water repeatedly to get rid of as much mud and sewage as possible.
AIR DRY CLOTHING THAT MUST BE DRY-CLEANED and take it to the cleaners as soon as possible. Talk with the dry cleaner about stubborn mold stains or damage to determine if the piece is worth trying to clean.
TAKE ITEMS WITH DARK MOLD STAINS OUTSIDE and brush off the mold. Pre-treat the patch by dampening it with water and rubbing detergent into the stain, and then launder the items in hot water, detergent and chlorine bleach, if safe for fabric. Rinse well. If any stain remains, use lemon juice and salt. Once the stain is gone, dry the items in sun. Rinse thoroughly and repeat.
DISINFECT ALL CLOTHES by using the longest wash cycle, highest water level and hottest water temperature safe for the fabric, being careful not to overcrowd the washer.
BE CAREFUL WITH BLEACH. Liquid chlorine bleaches scan be used on most fabrics but not on mohair, wool, silk, Spandex or resin-coated fabrics with durable press finishes. Two tablespoons of chlorine bleach per washer load will kill bacteria and won't cause substantial harm to clothing.
LINE DRY IN THE SUN to help kill bacteria. In the dryer, use the highest temperature setting. Don't dry clothes that still have stains, or the heat will set them. Try laundering again with other stain removers.