Flood To Do List

Ensure physical safety. Everything else can be replaced – you cannot.

Contact home, car and flood insurance companies. Get the claims process started.

Be nice to the adjuster. He or she will be valuing your loss and establishing the rebuild. Be a pleasant memory for the adjustor, rather than “that” person.

Order a POD or storage container ASAP. They will sell out fast

Vehicles – If there is any doubt at about water getting in the engine compartment, do not start your car. It will destroy the engine. Schedule a tow truck to your mechanic. If the seats are wet, it will probably be totaled – but ask.

You are in a marathon now, not a sprint. Everything will take much longer than you want it to.

Take pictures of EVERYTHING. Use the date function. Wide shots and close-ups. Get pictures of high-water lines with a tape measure on walls, doors, cars, brick, appliances, cabinets. Photograph everything that leaves your house. Make a google drive or Dropbox. Many people will need these pictures, and this will make it easier to share. If friends are helping clean up, they can take pictures of your stuff and upload them.

As soon as the water recedes, start mitigating the damage. Shopvac or squeegee out what water you can. Remove wet carpets, baseboards, wet sheetrock, and insulation. No permit is required.

Are you going to muck out yourself? If not, line up a company ASAP.  Do not wait. You need to get the moisture level down ASAP before mold sets in.

Make sure the power breakers are off!  If water got above outlets, leave the power off until you have everything checked. You could die if the power comes back on unexpectedly.

Treat everything that got wet as if it was soaked in toxic chemicals and raw sewage. (Because it was) Stoneware, plastic, and most wood must go. Hardwood furniture may be saved depending on depth and how long it soaked in water. Wet mattresses, couches, etc. – they have to go.

Wear a mask. Those chemicals and bacteria can become airborne. Treat every open wound immediately, no matter how small it seems. A tetanus shot might be a good idea.

Carpet and wood floors go first. Cut carpet and pad into small manageable pieces and take it to the curb. Save the best piece of each type of flooring. Insurers prorate based on quality and wear, so use a piece from a low traffic area like a closet.

FEMA does not cover tile floors. If you remove tile, you may need to cover this expense.

Remove and toss baseboards. They cannot be saved.

Measure and mark a 2-foot or 4-foot line on all walls. If the water was higher than that, the whole wall might need to come out. Over 2-foot of water?  Confirm with the insurance adjuster. Sheetrock wicks water, so you need to make sure it is powder dry wherever you cut.

To minimize dust, time and expense cut Sheetrock at 2-foot increments. Sheetrock comes in 4 x 8 sheets, so you want it to come out even. Allow a quarter to half an inch at the bottom. Baseboard will cover the gap. Cut in a straight line and be careful around power lines and water pipes.

Cut insulation. It wicks up water so make sure it is dry. Height is not as critical with fiberglass since it comes in rolls.

For tubs showers and cabinets on outside walls, you will need to get the insulation out. Whatever it takes. It will mold. Slab foundations usually have a well under the tubs. This will need to be vacuumed out. It will stink up your house if you don’t.

Cabinets at least need to come away from the walls so you can remove Sheetrock. You will have to make a call on keeping them. FEMA will not pay for uppers unless they got wet. Good luck matching.

Remove nails and screws from the face of the wall studs.

Once everything is relatively dry, spray the studs with bleach and anti-mold solution. Maybe sprinkle borax on the bottom plates to help with bugs.

More rain is always possible. Do not put flood debris where it can float to, and block, a drain and cause more trouble

Flood insurance likely will not reimburse you for loss of use. Any hotel or lodging expenses may be out of pocket.

Your first repair estimate will likely be less than you expect. Work with your contractor to file a supplement for things that were missed. Be wary of working with 3rd party arbitrators, as they will take a percentage of your total claim, not just any extra they get you in the supplement.

Your contractor needs to have insurance and if possible, be local.

Accept help when offered. Be specific – if someone asks, “What can I do?” Tell them something specific. I need candles, contractor bags, sandwiches, etc. Be grateful of those that reach out and be honest with what you need.

For contents, document individual items – each shirt, book, etc. needs to be enumerated and documented for the claim. If you say 20 books on your claim, you need a photograph of 20 books. Be exact and over-detailed. Good job for those friends asking – what can I do?

You will need the following tools:

  • Thick rubber gloves and durable work boots – waterproof if possible. Paper masks.
  • First aid kit
  • Camera, Dropbox, google drive
  • Small and medium boxes and packing supplies. Plastic storage tubs work better than cardboard boxes for storage of your undamaged stuff
  • Contractor grade trash bags – 3 Mil Thick
  • Utility knives and blades
  • Hacksaw and/or tin snips for cutting corner bead
  • Sheetrock saws
  • Pry bars
  • Chalk line
  • Measuring tape
  • Clawhammer
  • Cordless drill and Phillips bits
  • Shop vacs – preferably capable of sucking water
  • Dehumidifiers
  • Fans
  • Extension cords – many
  • Push brooms
  • Scoop shovels
  • Wheelbarrow or tubs on a cart
  • Tarp for under your trash pile so you are not picking nails out of your yard for the next year.
  • Separate your trash. Check city guidelines.
  • Garden/bug pressure sprayer
  • You cannot take too many pictures.


The Texas A & M University Real Estate Center has great information concerning available disaster resources. Follow the link below.



Remember – Whether you were born here or not, you’re a Texan now. You can do this.
This advice is personal and should not be taken as legal, medical or any professional advice. (In other words, no liabilities, guarantees or warranties are being issued with this note)


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