Tips for moving forward from flood damage
As communities around the Tennessee Valley continue to recover from devastating flooding, the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance and a local cleanup specialist have some recommendations on how to proceed cautiously and safely.
On Hunter Road in Ooltewah, TN, flooding still persists. Water has receded slightly, but residents remain challenged by the presence of water and are playing a waiting game.
For them and many others throughout our region suffering from flooding, there are some important things to keep in mind.
Tennessee remains in a State of Emergency due to flooding.
Governor Bill Lee issued a corresponding executive order which has impacts on insurance companies. Carriers have been informed not to cancel policies for 60 days if people cannot pay because of suffering from flood damage.
"You're not able to pay your insurance premium because you are having to spend money to hire a contractor. The executive order gives you more time to pay that premium," explained Kevin Walters, Spokesman for the TN Department of Commerce and Insurance.
You should reach out to your insurance provider to discuss this extension.
If you have problems or questions, you can call the consumer services line of the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance directly at 615-741-2218 or visit their website.
For residents ready to clean up, it is important to hire a licensed professional.
"Flood water can have a lot of contaminants. There can be a lot of health hazards with that, and so you want to make sure that you will be following a process that will be keeping your family safe, along with getting your home ready to be lived in again," advised Will Cleghorn, owner of Rytech water damage specialists.
Some contaminants include bacteria, viruses, chemicals, oil from cars, and fecal matter.
Professionals can properly assess the situation for both clean up and construction repair.
Flooded homes will need building material removed, such as dry wall and flooring. If your home sat in water for an extended period of time, the structural bones will also have to be assessed.
"You can have structural damage to the foundation. You can have issues with the subfloor and the support system underneath your house that got affected," Cleghorn said.
As you hire a contractor, make sure they are licensed as scammers will be out now trying to take advantage of vulnerable people from flooding. You can check for licenses here.
Scammers may ask to be paid fully upfront or with gift cards. They may also threaten to turn off your power if you don’t pay.
"Those people are scammers. You need to hang up, walk away, and call your local law enforcement agency. Don't do business with any of those people and don't be threatened by scammers," Walters stated.
Additionally, Walters said that you should always get everything in writing before beginning flood clean up and construction at your home.
Only pay one third of the cost up front, so you can assess the quality of the work being done before progresses forward.
Looking ahead to the next potential flood event, now is the time to buy flood insurance. New flood insurance won't help you if you are dealing with flooding currently, but it will help in the future. One inch of water in your home can cause $25,000 or more in damages, so people are urged to invest in flood insurance.