The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers safety tips to residents returning to check on flood damaged property and encourage them to file flood insurance claims.

Potential health/safety hazards after a disaster include carbon monoxide poisoning from generators used to power homes or clean-up equipment; electrocution from stepping into water charged by live electric wires; infections to cuts or scrapes that come into contact with surfaces contaminated by floodwater; chemical hazards from spills or storage tank breaks, respiratory and heat-related illnesses; and the worsening of chronic illness from overexertion.


  • First, check for damage. Check for structural damage before re-entering your home. Contact professionals immediately if you suspect damage to water, gas, electric or sewer lines.
  • Throw away food that has come in contact with floodwaters.
  • Boil water until authorities declare the water supply safe to drink.


  • Call your insurance agent who handles your flood insurance to file a claim. Have the following information with you when you place your call: (1) the name of your insurance company (your agent may write policies for more than one company); (2) your policy number; and (3) a telephone number/e-mail address where you can be reached.
  • Take photos of any water in the house and damaged personal property. If necessary, place these items outside the home. Your adjuster will need evidence of the damage and damaged items (e.g., cut swatches from carpeting) to prepare your repair estimate.
  • List damaged or lost items and include their age and value where possible. If possible, supply receipts for those lost items to the adjuster. Officials may require disposal of damaged items. If so, try to keep a swatch or other sample of the items for the adjuster.


  • Remove wet contents immediately to prevent mold. Wet carpeting, furniture, bedding and other items holding moisture can develop mold within 24 to 48 hours.
  • Thoroughly dry out the building’s interior. Portable dehumidifiers are useful, and rental costs may be covered under your flood policy. An air conditioner can also be used to start the drying-out process.
  • Have your furnace checked for damage. Your water heater may work, but if the floodwater covered part of, or the entire tank, the insulation between the walls may be damaged.
  • Plan before you repair. The rebuilding decisions you make now to lower your risk and insurance costs can result in big benefits over the long term. Contact your local building inspection or planning office or your county clerk's office to get more information.
  • Contact your local building inspections or planning office or county clerk’s office to get more information on local building requirements before repairing your structure. If you can’t find a local contact, call your state NFIP coordinator. Contact information can be found at www.floods.org/statepocs/stcoor.asp.


  • http://www.ready.gov/floods – is a link to FEMA-recommended steps that should be taken immediately after a flood.
  • http://www.beready.iowa.gov/ -- is a link to the State of Iowa’s disaster preparedness and education page.
  • On September 23, Governor Terry E. Branstad issued proclamations of disaster emergency for Allamakee, Benton, Black Hawk, Bremer, Buchanan, Butler, Cedar, Chickasaw, Delaware, Floyd, Franklin, Linn and Wright counties in response to flooding that occurred on September 21 and continuing. The Governor’s proclamations allow State resources to be utilized to respond to and recover from the effects of these flooding.
  • On September 26, Governor Branstad issued a proclamation of disaster emergency for four additional counties: Cerro Gordo, Hancock, Mitchell, and Worth.
  • On September 27, Governor Branstad issued a proclamation of disaster emergency for four additional counties: Howard, Jones, Louisa and Story.
  • The proclamations also activated the Iowa Individual Assistance Program for residents of those counties.
  • The Iowa Individual Assistance Program provides grants of up to $5,000 for households with incomes up to 200 percent of the current federal poverty level, or a maximum annual income of $40,320, for a family of three.
    • Grants are available for home or car repairs, replacement of clothing or food, and for the expense of temporary housing.
    • Original receipts are required for those seeking reimbursement for actual expenses related to storm recovery.
    • The grant application and instructions are available on the Iowa Department of Human Services website.
  • Potential applicants have 45 days from the date of the Governor’s proclamation to submit a claim.
  • Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management officials advise flood-impacted individuals and businesses to report damage to their local emergency management officials.
  • Local officials can connect flood-impacted individuals to any services being provided by state departments and non-governmental organizations assisting with unmet needs.
  • Individuals and business owners also should notify their insurance companies of damage.

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.