Home cleanup after the flood - DIY or hire a pro?

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Harris County residents are urged to report house flooding by completing a Flood Survey as soon as possible at the Harris County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management's website.

If there has been flooding or storm damage in your home:

  • Take photos and document property damage.

  • Remove and discard items that cannot be washed and disinfected, such as mattresses, rugs, carpeting and carpet padding, upholstered furniture, cosmetics, stuffed animals, baby toys, pillows, foam-rubber items, books, wall coverings and most paper products.

  • If you lost power, check your refrigerator and remove any spoiled food.

  • Place a tarp on any damaged or exposed roofs to prevent further damage.

  • If you are returning to your home after flooding or evacuating, walk carefully around the outside and check for loose power lines, gas leaks and structural damage. If you have any doubts about safety, have your residence inspected by a qualified building inspector or structural engineer before entering.

  • Do NOT enter a damaged house if you smell gas, if floodwaters surround your home, or if your home was damaged by fire and the authorities have not declared it safe.

  • If you smell gas, leave the house and call CenterPoint Energy at (713)659-2111 or (800)752-8036 as soon as possible.

  • If you feel safe entering your home, use a flashlight to check the interior. Do not light matches or turn on electrical switches.

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We asked the expert when is it safe for homeowners to tackle a project, and when it's best to phone the pros.

During the clean-up:

  • Before you hire clean-up or repair contractors, check their qualifications and references, and get written estimates. Keep all receipts. Be wary of people driving through neighborhoods offering home repair services.

  • During clean-up, keep children and pets out of the affected area until you are finished. Wear rubber boots, rubber gloves and goggles.

  • If the water rose above the electrical outlets in your home, contact a licensed electrician before turning on the main circuit breaker or trying to restore power.

  • Allow all electrical appliances and equipment that were submerged in water to dry thoroughly for one week. Have them checked by a qualified repair person before turning them on. Attempting to repair a flood-damaged appliance could result in shock or death.

Information from the Harris County Flood Control District
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