After a Flood: The First Steps

Road closed with car

After a flood, the physical devastation to a community is obvious. But during the aftermath, there are some basic facts to remember that will help protect your health and safety and start getting your life back to normal.

Links to Sections of this Document

Staying Safe

The dangers are not over when the water goes down.

Returning Home

Floodwaters can leave behind contaminants that can make you sick and animals or debris that can cause injury. Floods can also cause damage to your home that could increase its risk of fire or collapse. When returning home, remembering some important steps can help keep you and your family safe and healthy.

Repairing Your Flooded Home is available free from the American Red Cross or your state or local emergency manager.

flooded community

Getting Help

  • Call 211. 2-1-1 provides callers with information about and referrals to human services for every day needs and in times of crisis. Or you can visit 211's website.
  • The American Red Cross can help you by providing you with a voucher to purchase new clothing, groceries, essential medications, bedding, essential furnishings, and other items to meet emergency needs. The Red Cross can also provide you with a cleanup kit: mop, broom, bucket, and cleaning supplies. You can call the Badger Chapter of the American Red Cross at (608) 233-9300 or toll free at 1-877-618-6628, or visit them at the Badger Chapter website.
  • Contact your local government. For Dane County residents, local government information can be found on the Dane County Website.
  • Contact your insurance agent to discuss claims.
  • Listen to your radio for information on assistance that may be provided by the state or federal government or other organizations.
  • If you hire cleanup or repair contractors, be sure they are qualified to do the job. Be wary of people who drive through neighborhoods offering help in cleaning up or repairing your home. Check references.

Being Helpful

Filing a Flood Insurance Claim


Once You Have Reported Your Loss:

Before the Adjustor Arrives

Within 60 Days

Your claim is payable after:

If major catastrophic flooding occurs, it may take longer to process claims and make payments because of the sheer number of claims submitted.

More information is available on the NFIP website,

Preparing for the Next Flood

When you are repairing your flood-damaged home, consider taking steps to reduce future damages. Visit our Protect Your Home or Business page to learn more about projects you can do to protect your home from flooding. These projects are often less expensive when they are combined with other repair work. Remember, always get a permit from your community zoning department before doing any development if you live in a 100-year floodplain.