Beautiful Portland, Oregon is known for its vibrant culture, delicious restaurants, and growing music scene that embodies West Coast style. However, it’s unfortunately also known for frequent rainstorms and serious flooding.
Though the city is a fair distance from the coast, tremendous storm systems can dump an enormous amount of water in a very short period of time, overwhelming sump pumps and backing up sewers. This spells disaster for many homeowners and business owners, who may wake up to find their building waterlogged and their belongings ruined.
As almost 28,000 properties in Portland are in danger of flooding in the next 30 years, it’s essential that you know what to do the instant that trouble starts brewing. Read on to learn the six things you must do as soon as possible when your home begins to flood.
1. Get everyone to safety
While it may be obvious that you need to focus on getting everyone out and to higher ground, many people waste precious time hunting down belongings. You should keep all important documents for the whole family, like birth certificates and Social Security cards, together so that you can grab them immediately. Leave everything else behind – the only irreplaceable items in your home are your loved ones.
2. Turn off the utilities
If it’s safe to do so, turn off all the utilities in the home. You should close water outlets, throw circuit breakers, and shut the gas by using the lever on the side of your house, usually by the meter reader. This will make it safer for you to return later, as you won’t have to worry about electrified water or gas leaks.
3. Document the damage
It’s important to note that you shouldn’t return to your home until local officials give you the all-clear; even then, be sure to wear protective equipment such as gloves, rubber-soled boots, face masks, and goggles. Flood water is often highly contaminated, and you don’t want to get any of it near your eyes, nose, or mouth.
With your cell phone or another device, start taking pictures of the damage. Be sure to take pictures of tags and labels of more expensive items, as this will help the assessor identify them and determine how much they are worth in their calculations. This can also be helpful to you later on if you decide to replace it yourself.
4. Contact your insurance agency
Now, you need to call your homeowner’s insurance company to learn how to file a claim. They will usually give you a portal where you can get the process started and upload the pictures you took, as well as any other documents they may need to start the claim.
It’s important to note that you might not be covered depending on the cause of the flood, as many insurance companies class flood damage separately from other forms of property damage. Thankfully, there is a National Flood Insurance Program from the Federal Emergency Management Agency that you can sign up for – just be sure you do so before disaster strikes.
5. Remove as much water as you can
After you’ve talked to the insurance agency and documented the damage, it’s time to get to work removing as much of the water as you can. The water damage remediation company you hire will help with this as well, but it can ease the process if you spend the time waiting for their consultation by working on cleaning up.
Again, use protective gear when entering any contaminated water. Bail out as much as you can using buckets before switching to a wet/dry vac once there is only a small layer of water on the ground. Never use the electrical outlets inside a flooded house; instead, set up a generator no less than 20 feet away from the home and run an extension cable to where you need.
6. Contact a water damage restoration team
When you’re looking for water damage mitigation in Portland OR, it’s tempting to just go with the first option that pops up on a Google search, but this can sadly cost you far more in the long run You need to really dig into the company and ensure that they aren’t a fly-by-night operation that will leave you high and not so dry, so take some time and do your research.
Look for certifications, customer reviews on third party sites, and a well established reputation with rating sites like the Better Business Bureau. You also need to ensure that they work with your insurance: some remediation companies have established partnerships with certain agents, but most good companies will be happy to reach out and start that alliance on your behalf.
Flooding is terrifying, and it can leave you in fear for your life, but being prepared and knowing what to do immediately can make a world of difference for both your property and yourself. Always prioritize your safety over any physical belongings, and know that help is standing by, ready to swoop in and save your home.