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Recommendations to Help You Recover From a Flood

Based on findings from its field tests of flood-damage-resistant housing materials, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) recently compiled the following recommendations to help the flood recovery process.


Follow guidance in the American Red Cross's Repairing Your Flooded Home (pdf, 4.51 MB) regarding when and how to re-enter your home after a flood and assessing the damage. However, don't punch holes is walls to promote drainage.

Promote drying throughout the house by opening windows, doors, crawl space vents and access doors, attic access panels, etc., to permit airflow throughout the house. Interior doors, second floor windows, bath and kitchen cabinet doors and drawers should also be opened.

Remove water soaked materials such as clothes, drapes, furniture, rugs and if possible carpeting. Salvageable materials should be spread to dry in a carport or garage. Non-salvageable material should be moved away from the house to a debris pile.

Follow guidance in the American Red Cross's Repairing Your Flooded Home (pdf, 4.51 MB) regarding how to proceed with reconstruction, e.g., hire a contractor or do it yourself.

If hiring a contractor follow guidance in FEMA's Avoiding Fraud in Home, Business Flood Repairs.

Reconstruction Professionals

Follow recommended procedures from professional organizations such as ASCR (Association of Specialists in Cleaning and Restoration) or IICRC (Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification) with regard to the treatment or removal and replacement of existing housing envelope materials. In most cases do not punch holes in walls to promote draining or drying as this is usually not effective.

When existing envelope materials are removed, replace them with flood damage-resistant materials.

Install insulation and wall materials to the full height of the walls subjected to flooding. Uncertainty regarding future flood levels and the wicking of floodwater through materials make the combining of conventional materials and flood damage resistant ones imprudent.

When selecting envelope materials and finishes, and caulking/sealing methods it is wise to assume that floodwater will permeate the system and that there will be hidden pockets of moisture that will require a "means of escape". This escape could be through permeable materials such as gypsum board or through cracks such as through the joints in vinyl siding. Don't block this means of drying with low permanence paints and wall coverings on walls or with caulking joints.

Content updated on 10/4/2004

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