What to do if your property is damaged by flood

Posted by Brad Porteus on 11 July 2014

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Nature certainly has its beautiful side, but during winter in Western Australia it can have a dark side too. Sometimes, the effort to prepare for the yearly wet storms and flash flooding that effect the region can be futile. No homeowner expects it to happen to them, but if it does happen to you here are the steps you need to follow to make sure the damage (and the cost!) is minimal.

Minimise the chances of flooding

As mentioned above, no one thinks flooding is going to happen to them, but with WA’s proneness to storms with heavy and sudden rainfall, it really could happen to anyone. Some small things you can do to prevent your home from flood as much as possible are to ensure the drains near your home are cleared of debris. Sweep up fallen leaves regularly and scoop them from drains and downpipes.

While you probably carried out a building inspection or pre-purchase building report before you moved into your home to identify any areas of the home that might have needed fixing at the time, it’s often recommended to carry out a building maintenance inspection every couple of years to ensure your home is up to code and will keep you safe in bad weather. In particular checking the roof and ceilings for cracks, the drains for blockages and the foundations for signs of underlying damage.

In addition to this, keep yourself updated about floods. Keep an eye and ear out for news stories in your area and try to understand the likely streams and drainage channels near your home if flooding were to occur.

Slow Source Flood

In the case that the flood is slow to enter your home, it may be safe enough for you to locate the source of the flood and to stop it from damaging your home too much. If the water is entering through a cracked or storm-damaged roof try to contain the leak using buckets to collect the water. If the flood is coming in under your door try to stop the flow working further into the home by packing the door with whatever you can find. You’re not likely to have sandbags lying around the home so try old newspapers and magazines or even some old bed sheets.

Next, providing it’s safe to go outside, try to exit the home from another location (e.g. a ground floor window) so as not to open the door and try to safely remove any leaves or coverings from the drains around your home to clear the water.

Finally, for your safety and for the safety of your home, you must turn off all of the electricity. This means that you should locate your home's main power source and shut it down. This will prevent the flooding from causing possible electrocution.

After the Flood

Even with prevention and mitigation, flood damage can still occur. In the case that your home has sustained damage, the repair and clean-up process should begin as soon as possible to prevent mould forming in damp floors, ceilings and walls.

To begin the process of your insurance claim you should get an insurance building assessment. An insurance building assessment is crucial to ensure that your insurance company provides you with the correct payout to repair and care for your home's damage. The insurance building assessment will review the areas of your home where the flood damage has occurred, what parts of the home were affected, if there is any structural damage, and whether dangerous materials in the home have also been touched.

Once the report is complete, your insurance company can then provide you with an accurate payout or help building companies to locate the damage and complete the required repairs as quickly as possible so that you can get your life back in order.

Floods are a force of nature, but you should not have to suffer the extent of their damage for longer than you need to. For this reason, using an insurance building assessment can aid you in getting your life back together after a flood.