How to Handle Flooding on Your Homestead

Reader Contribution by Bobbi Peterson
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Even if your house has been flooded, it might be salvageable. Natural disasters can happen anywhere, anytime. While we may get some warning that something bad is going to happen, the situation might turn out much worse than predicted, so we have to figure out how to deal with the aftermath.

Water damage can occur at your home in a variety of ways, including a broken water pipe, flooding or poor drainage on your roof. In fact, flooding is the No. 1 cause of property damage in the U.S. Flooding can damage your house and property, but the damage might not completely destroy your belongings. After a flooding event occurs, there are a few things you need to do to assess the damage and decide if your house and property can be repaired.

Ensure It Is Safe to Be on Your Property

Before entering your home or other parts of your homestead, make sure it is safe. Water can make structures weak and collapse easily, and you don’t want to be in your house if that happens. Water can also make your property muddy and slick, and you’ll need to be cautious so you don’t fall and injure yourself. It may have also shifted your equipment, placing it in a position where it could fall over on you. Be cautious so that doesn’t occur.

You’ll also want to make sure your electricity or generator is turned off. Even if the power is out, you don’t want it coming back on while there is still water in your house, so flip the switch on the main breaker to ensure your safety.

You should also assume that the water on your property is contaminated. You don’t want to go in it or take anything out of it without wearing protective gear — waders and rubber gloves should be sufficient. You’ll need to throw out any food that the water may have touched, in addition to boiling your water until you know for sure it’s safe to drink.

Photograph the Damage

After you’ve determined it’s safe to be on your property, you’ll want to document the damage with photographs. You can send these to your insurance agent so they figure out exactly how much damage was done and what your policy will cover. Keep copies for yourself so you can resend if you need to and so you have a record of the damage caused by the flooding.

Talk to Your Insurance Provider

Once you have the necessary information and photographs, call your insurance agent to get your claim in motion. If flooding occurred over a wide area, you may have to wait before your property can be assessed. Talking to your insurance agent will let you know how much of your property is covered and what can be done to help you mitigate the damage.

Get Rid of the Water

After you’ve received the go-ahead from your insurance agent, you can remove the water from your home. This can be done using a sump pump and/or a wet vac. You may also consider calling a company that specializes in water removal. However, remember that if a large group of people was affected by the flooding, you might be put on a wait list until they can make it to your home.

Floodwaters may permanently change the landscape, which can change how you use your land to grow food. Removing water from your property and fields might be more labor-intensive than sucking it out with a pump. In fact, it might be almost impossible to get rid of the water, although you could install pumps below ground level to get rid of the water.

However, you’ll have to be aware of any changes that may have occurred to the groundwater during flooding. If you can let nature take its course and dry your land out naturally, that might be the better option.

Dry Your House Out

Once you’ve removed the water from your home, you can work on drying your house. You may have to remove flooring, drywall and furniture to ensure there is no mold growth, which can be detrimental to your health. You’ll need to make sure framing boards are also dry to prevent mold and mildew growth.

Drying your home can be done by opening windows to let air move through or by using fans and dehumidifiers, assuming you have power. Again, if you’re unsure of the process, contact a professional to help you out.

Flooding can cause major damage to your home and property, but with a little luck, you’ll be able to mitigate those issues and get back to your life.

Bobbi Peterson is an environmental blogger who started the blog Living Life GreenFollow Bobbi on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook. Read all of Bobbi’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

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