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Scott Cooper
Scott Cooper
Attorney • (800) 232-6301

Tips On Cleaning Up and Insurance Claims Post Flooding In Pennsylvania

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If you have been impacted by flooding, especially in Central Pennsylvania, here are some tips for re-entering/cleaning your home or business and also about what may be needed in order to present an insurance claim.

1.Be careful when entering a flood-damaged building. Knock down hanging plaster before moving around. Watch for holes in the floor and loose boards with exposed nails.

2.Make sure the gas and water is still turned off. if not, turn it off. Wear rubber-soled shoes or boots and rubber gloves and turn off the main switch using a piece of rubber, plastic or dry wood while standing on a dry board to avoid electrocution.

3.Do not pump the basement until the water has gone down because pumping a water-filled basement could result in the walls collapsing.

4.Test plumbing and basement drains by pouring a bucket of water in them. If the water does not run out, remove the clean-out plug from the trap and rake out the mud with a wire.

5.Before moving back into your home make sure the house Before a house is dried and thoroughly cleaned, since flood waters pick up sewage and chemicals as they travel.

6.Open doors and windows to ventilate and dry the inside, and wait until all floors, ceilings, walls and furnishings are dry and free of mold and mildew before trying to repair or salvage them.

7.Disinfect EVERYTHING that flood water has touched. Scrub down walls and any other smooth, hard surfaces with a solution made of clean water and two-percent chlorine bleach. Two to three capfuls of chlorine bleach to a bucket of water are recommended. Wear gloves when disinfecting surfaces.

7.Do not attempt to repair floors until they are fully dry. Dry wood floors as soon as possible by opening all doors and windows, which should prevent them from shrinking and deforming. Once dry, buckled floors may be drawn back into place with nails, and planing and sanding may remove humps.

8.Remove drawers and clean all mud and dirt from wooden furniture. Be sure to dry furniture slowly and indoors to prevent the sun from warping it. If possible, simply air-dry family treasures such as books, photographs or paintings. If wet books, documents, photographs or textiles cannot be air-dried within 48 hours, freeze them if you have a freezer that is large enough. If not, keep them as cool as possible until air-drying is possible.

9.Washers, dryers and furnaces can usually be cleaned and tested by qualified electricians. Replacing expensive appliances after a flood is usually not necessary.

10.Mattresses, carpets and rugs should be discarded. In most cases, mattresses and rugs become so saturated with contaminated material that cleaning attempts are futile.

11.Take still photos and video of all that you can; fully document damage inside and out if possible. Continue to document until all flood waters have receded and if mud/sewage/debris are left behind, document that also.

12.Review your homeowner’s policy carefully; even though your policy might not cover flood water, it may cover raw sewage or damages as a result of a sump pump failing.

13.Speak with your agent as soon as possible. Ask for ideas on how to make your claim as thorough as possible. As there are many people in the area filing claims, ask for an approximation on how long it will take to process your claim.

14.If you did not have flood insurance, or if you rent and did not have renter’s insurance, this is a good time to add these now. Even though it will not help this time, it will help in tghe future. Also, keep in mind their are usually waiting periods of 30 days before the flood insurance will go into effect.

15.If you file a claim and believe that the insurance company is not treating you fairly contact a lawyer who specializes in insurance property damage claims and bad faith.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental and Department of Insurance have more information on these issues at their websites www.dep.state.pa.us and www.ins.state.pa.us.

Do you have any other tips on how to handle claims for moving back into a home or business after a flood?

Scott B. Cooper

Schmidt Kramer PC
209 State Street
Harrisburg, PA 17101
(717) 232-6300 – Telephone
(717) 232-6467 – Facsimile
scooper@schmidtkramer.com
Facebook.com/SchmidtKramer
Twitter.com/TalkToALawyer

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  1. Gerry McGill says:
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    As a frequent hurricane survivor my strong recommendation is the take extensive photos of everything you throw out, from foodstuff, to clothing ,furniture, and appliances. If you have flood coverage you’ll need this to support your claim. If you do not have coverage you may need to document unreimbursed losses. My sympathies are with you.