What to do after a flood
Stay away from floodwater
- It can be contaminated with sewage, chemicals and animal waste
- Never walk in floodwater
- Never let children play in floodwater
- Never drive through floodwater
- Never walk on sea defences or river banks
- Bridges may be dangerous to walk or drive over
- Floodwater can lift cars, manhole covers and other heavy objects
If your property has flooded
- Contact your insurer and follow their advice.
- If you rent your property, contact your landlord or agent and ask what their insurance covers for flooding.
- If you do not have insurance, your local authority can provide information on hardship grants or charities that may be able to help you.
You might find insurance companies, builders and charities are busy and it can take longer than normal to get hold of them.
If your vehicle has been damaged
Contact your insurer if your vehicle has been damaged by flood water.
Get your vehicle checked by a professional mechanic – do not attempt to drive your car without having it checked.
Finding somewhere to stay
Your insurer might be able to provide you with temporary accommodation.
Contact your local authority for emergency accommodation if you can’t stay in your home and you are not covered by insurance.
The British Red Cross can also help with transport, welfare and food parcels.
If you will be in a temporary property for some time, consider having your post redirected.
Making an insurance claim
Your insurance company will put you in touch with a loss adjuster to assess the damage and oversee any work.
The loss adjuster may visit your property. This can take up to 7 days of the area becoming accessible.
If you are renting, contact your landlord and your contents insurance company as soon as possible. The Citizens Advice Bureau has more advice about dealing with flooding in a rented home.
If you do not have insurance, your Local Authority should be able to provide information on hardship grants or charities that may be able to help you.
Ask the insurance company:
- if and when the loss adjuster will visit
- if they will provide temporary accommodation - you don't have to accept the first place you are offered
- if they will get a company to clean and dry your property
- if they will pay for any services or equipment you need
- if they will find a builder to repair your property
- if they will repair or replace your belongings
- if they will include flood protection and other modifications in the repairs - this could reduce flood damage in the future
If you are having repair work done to your property, your insurance company can arrange this for you. Or you can ask for a cash settlement to arrange the repair work yourself. However, you are then responsible for the quality of the work.
Make a record of flood damage:
- mark on the wall the height the flood water got to - do this in every room affected by flooding
- list the damage to your property and belongings - take photos and videos too
- take photos and videos of everything you dispose of and write down as much detail as possible, eg. make, model and serial number
- if you need to get rid of flood damaged carpets, cut off and keep samples - this will speed up the settlement of your claim
- don't throw anything away until told (except ruined food)
- if you are covered for loss of perishable goods, make a list of all the foods you throw away
- make a note or copy of all correspondence including telephone calls, letters, and emails - record names, dates and what was agreed
- keep receipts
The Association of British Insurers have advice for businesses affected by flooding.
If you are having trouble with your insurance company, contact the Financial Ombudsman Service to help settle individual disputes.
Returning to your property
Check with the emergency services if it is safe to return to your property.
Do not turn on electricity, gas or water without getting professional advice. If your electricity supply has not been switched off at the mains, get a qualified person to do this.
Make sure your gas and central heating has been checked by an engineer before turning it on.
There may be hidden dangers:
- sharp objects in floodwater
- raised manhole covers
- structural damage to your property
Do not touch sources of electricity when standing in flood water.
How to clean your property
It can take months to clean and repair your home so you can live in it again.
If you have insurance
Your insurance company may arrange for your home to be cleaned, dried and repaired for you.
The National Flood Forum has more information about Flood recovery and the insurance claims process.
If you do not have insurance
You can ask your local fire service to help pump water out of your property, or give you advice on how to do this. They might charge a fee for this service.
Once the water has been pumped out, you might find mud, silt or other debris left in your property. You should seek professional advice from a chartered surveyor or a builder to help remove it safely.
The property needs to be dried out before repair work can begin. You may need to remove wet items (like carpets, underlay and plasterboard) to let the property completely dry out.
Check if your local authority can provide skips and extra rubbish collections.
Used sandbags need to be treated as contaminated waste - contact your local authority for advice on how to dispose of them.
If you are doing any of the work yourself:
- wear waterproof clothing, gloves, wellington boots and a face mask
- wash down surfaces - don't use high-pressure hoses because they blast contaminated matter into the air
- clean and disinfect your property using ordinary household products
- keep doors and windows open to dry out your property, or use a dehumidifier with the windows and doors closed
Report what has happened
Contact your local authority to report that floodwater came into your property.
Find out who to contact if you want to report a problem on a watercourse.
Look after your health
Flooding can be a scary and traumatic experience. Public Health Wales have published information about the different health risks and how to get help.
Get financial support
Farmers and farm workers may be to apply for emergency funding from the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution.
Your Local Authority can advise you on:
- community Flood Recovery Grants
- emergency/alternative accommodation
- council Tax exemptions
Check what you are entitled to and search for grants on the Turn2us website.
Be aware of scams
Be aware of rogue traders. If you require specific advice your local authority’s trading standards department and local police force will be able to help you.
Avoid being scammed:
- speak to your insurance company first
- always check identification
- find registered tradespeople on Trustmark
- get several quotes for any work
- check trade body approval or certification
- don't feel pressured to commit on the day
You can also contact Citizens Advice.
If you believe you have been scammed, you can report it to Action Fraud.
Advice for livestock farmers
Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) have advice for livestock farmers affected by flooding.
Prepare for future floods
Find out how to prepare for flooding and how you can make changes to your property to protect it from future flooding.