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Plan & Prepare

Floods: What to do After a Flood or Flash Flood

After a Flood: If you have evacuated

  • Return home only after authorities advise it is safe to do so. Keep tuned to your local radio and TV stations for recovery information.
  • Beware of downed or loose and sagging power lines. Report them immediately to the power company, police or fire department.
  • Avoid flooded roads and washed-out bridges. Continue to monitor all forms of media to stay informed.

After a Flood: If your home was flooded

  • Check for structural damage before reentering your home. Do not go in if there is a chance the building will collapse.
  • Enter your home with caution.
    • Beware of snakes, insects and other animals driven to higher ground by floodwater.
    • Open windows and doors to ventilate and dry your home.
    • Check refrigerated foods for spoilage.
    • Use the telephone for emergency calls only.
  • Do not use matches, cigarette lighters or other flames in the home, since gas may be trapped inside.
  • Find out who supplies your utilities by contacting The State of New Jersey Board of Public Utilities.
  • Keep power off until an electrician has inspected your home for safety.
  • Inspect the utilities in your home.
    • Check for gas leaks - If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and quickly leave the building. Turn off the gas at the outside main valve if you can and call the gas company from a neighbor's home. If you turn off the gas for any reason, it must be turned back on by a professional.
    • Look for electrical system damage - If you see sparks or broken or frayed wires, or if you smell hot insulation, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. If you have to step in water to get to the fuse box or circuit breaker, call an electrician first for advice.
    • Check for sewage and water line damage - If you suspect sewage lines are damaged, avoid using the toilets and call a plumber. If water pipes are damaged, contact the water company and avoid water from the tap. You can obtain safe water by melting ice cubes.
    • Take pictures of any damage for insurance claims.
  • If in doubt, throw food out.
    • Throw away any foodthat has come in contact with floodwaters, even canned goods.
    • This chart provides detailed guidance on deciding whether refrigerated and frozen food items are still safe.
  • Boil water for drinking and food preparation until authorities declare your water supply is safe.
  • Salvage water-damaged photos with proper handling tips from FEMA.
  • Additional information about salvaging heirlooms is available from The National Institute for Conservation.
  • Let a relative or friend know you are back at home. Tell them how to get in touch with you, if phone service has been interrupted

After a Flood: Insurance claims and rebuilding

  • If your home has suffered damage, call the agent who handles your flood insurance to file a claim. If you are unable to stay at home, make sure to say where you can be reached.
    • To make filing your claim easier, take photos of any water in the house and save damaged personal property. If necessary, place these items outside the home. An insurance adjuster will need to see what is damaged in order to process your claim.
    • FEMA offers these tip for filing your insurance claim.
  • Follow local building codes and ordinances when rebuilding. Use flood-resistant materials and techniques to protect your property from future flood damage.
  • Learn more about rebuilding Safer, Stronger, Protected Homes & Communities from FEMA.

For Further Reading

  • American Red Cross:
    • Repairing Your Flooded Home, in English as pdf, and Spanish as pdf.

(Much of the information on this page is adapted from information provided by the American Red Cross and FEMA).

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New Jersey Office of Emergency Management
P. O. Box 7068
Trenton, NJ 08628


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