After The Flood- Returning to Normal

You cannot imagine how a flood will change your life. Knowing where to begin and who can help is important. Woodbury County Emergency Management hopes you find the following information useful in getting through the things you must do after a flood.

What To Expect

A flood in the home, whether you live in an apartment, a single family, or multifamily home, can cause serious damage. The building and many of the things in your home may have been badly damaged by water. You will find things that water has ruined by the flood. Anything you want to save or re-use will need to be carefully cleaned. Cleanup will take time and patience!


It is important to understand the risk to your safety and health even after the flood is over. Dirty water left behind may contain things that could make you sick, and structural collapse could occur. Be very careful if you go into your home and if you touch any flood-damaged items. Ask the advice of the local building official, your insurance agent, and restoration specialists before starting to clean or make repairs.

What Do I Do Now? 

Take care of yourself and family!

Contact your local disaster relief service, such as the American Red Cross or the Salvation Army. They will help you find a place to stay as well as find food, clothing, medicine, and other important items. Make sure you have a safe place to live temporarily. You have a big job ahead of you. Get plenty of rest and ask for help. Do not try to do it all alone.

Physical and Emotional Considerations:

Disasters affect people in many ways. In some disaster situations, it may mean the loss of loved ones, including relatives, friends, neighbors or family pets. In others, it means the loss of property, furnishings, cherished belongings or maybe your entire home. The emotional effects of this loss and life disruptions may show up immediately or may appear months later.

It is very important to understand that there is a natural grieving process following any loss, and that a disaster of any size will cause unusual and unwanted stress in attempting to reconstruct your life. You may want to seek professional help during this stressful time.

Some Common Initial Responses to the Disaster: 

-Fear and disbelief

-Reluctance to abandon property

 -Difficulty in making decisions

 -Need for information

 -Disorientation and numbing

- Helpfulness to other disaster victims

 -Needing help for you and your family

Some Responses That May Occur Later:

 -Change in appetite 

-Difficulty sleeping 


-Anger and suspicion

 -Apathy and depression


 -Frustrations and feelings of powerlessness

Special Effects on Young Children:

 -Return to earlier behavior, such as thumb-sucking or bed wetting

 -Clinging to parents

 -Reluctance to go to bed


 -Fantasies that the fire never happened

 -Crying and screaming


- Refusal to go to school

 -Problems at school and inability to concentrate

Help for you and your family:

- Recognize your own feelings

 -Talk with others about your feelings. This will help relieve your stress

 -Accept help from others in the spirit in which it is given

 -Whenever possible, take time off and do something you enjoy

- Get enough rest

 -Get as much physical activity as possible, such as running or walking 

Help Your Pets

If you have pets, find them and comfort them. Scared animals often react by biting or scratching. Handle them carefully, calmly, and gently. Try to leave pets with a family member, friend, or veterinarian if you are visiting or cleaning your damaged home. Keep your pets out of the house until the cleanup is complete to keep them safe.

Contact Your Insurance Agent

Contact your insurance company or agent right away. Ask them what to do about the immediate needs of your home. This includes pumping out water, covering doors, windows, and other openings. Ask your insurance agent/company what they want you to do first. Some companies may ask you to make a list of everything that was damaged by the fire. They will ask you to describe these in detail and how much you paid for the items.

If you do not have insurance, your family and community might be able to help you get back on your feet. Other organizations that may be able to help include:

 -American Red Cross

 -Salvation Army

 -Religious Organizations

 -Public Agencies such as the Public Health Department

 -Community Groups

 -State or municipal emergency services

 -Non-profit, crisis-counseling centers

Security and Safety

Do not enter a damaged home or apartment unless officials say it is safe to enter. Floors and walls may be damaged and could collapse. Make sure utility services (water, electricity, and gas) are safe to use. If they are not safe, the company will disconnect them before they leave the site. Do not try to turn them back on yourself.


Get in touch with your landlord or mortgage lender as soon as possible. Contact your credit card company to report credit cards that may have been lost in the flood and request replacements. Save all receipts for any money you spend. These receipts are important in showing the insurance company what money you have spent concerning your flood loss. This will help prove you bought things you may want to claim on your income tax forms. Take pictures of everything that was damaged.

If it is safe to do so, try to locate the following items:

- Identification, such as driver’s licenses and Social Security cards

 -Insurance information

 -Medication information

 -Eyeglasses, hearing aids, or other prosthetic devices

- Valuables, such as credit cards, bank books, cash, and jewelry

Many people/entities should be notified of your relocation, including:

 -Your insurance agent/company

 -Your mortgage company (also inform them of the flood

 -Your family and friends

-Your employer

 -Your child’s school

 -Your post office

 -Any delivery services

 -Your fire and police departments

 -Your utility companies

Do not throw away any damaged goods until after an inventory is made. All damages are taken into consideration in developing your insurance claim.

If you are considering contracting for inventory or repair services, discuss your plans with your insurance agent/ company first.

Check with an accountant or the IRS about special benefits for people recovering from flood loss.

Restoration Services

There are companies that specialize in the restoration of flood    damaged structures. Whether you or your insurer employs this type of service, be clear on who will pay. Be sure to request an estimate of cost for the work. Before any company is hired, check  references. These companies provide a range of services that may include some or all of the following:


□ Water Extraction

□ Structural Drying

□ Mold Remediation

□ Odor Removal

□ Contents Cleaning and Restoration

□ Contents Inventory

□ Storage


The Home Builders Association of Siouxland is a great resource to ensure contractors are reputable and licensed for the type of services offered.  The  Home Builders Association may be      contacted at 712- 255-3852.


Now, About Your Stuff

Here is a checklist of documents you will need to replace if they have been destroyed. Also a list of who to contact for information on the replacement process.   

Item                                                                                                                      Who to Contact

Driver’s license, auto registration                                    Dept. of Motor Vehicles 

Bank Books (checking, savings, etc.)                              Your bank, as soon as possible

Insurance policies                                                                     Your insurance agent

Military discharge papers                                                     U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs

Passports                                                                                        U.S. Postal Service

Birth, death, marriage certificates                                  Woodbury County Recorder

Social Security, Medicare Cards                                      Social Security Office

Divorce papers                                                                          Circuit Court where decree was issued

Titles to deeds                                                                            Woodbury County Recorder

Stocks and bonds                                                                     The issuing companies or your broker

Credit Cards                                                                               The issuing companies, as soon as possible

Wills                                                                                                 Your lawyer

Medical Records                                                                       Your doctor

Warranties                                                                                   Issuing Company

Income Tax Records                                                               IRS or your accountant

Citizenship papers                                                                  Immigration and Naturalization

Prepaid burial  contract                                                       Issuing Company

Mortgage documents                                                             Lending institution


Local Numbers for Assistance

Department of Motor Vehicles ................................712-255-5539

Veterans Affairs.........................................................712-279-6605

U.S. Postal Service.....................................................712-277-6415

Birth, Death and Marriage Certificates (Woodbury) .712-279-6528

Social Security Cards ...............................................866-338-2859

Salvation Army ........................................................712-255-8836

American Red Cross-Siouxland Chapter ..................712-252-4081

MidAmerican Energy ...............................................888-427-5632

MercyOne Medical Hospital .....................................712-279-2010

UnityPoint St. Luke's......................................................712-279-3500

Walgreens Pharmacy-24 hour service .......................712-252-6993

Department of Human Services (DHS) ....................712-255-0833

City of Sioux City, Inspection Services.....................712-224-5216

Siouxland Community Health…………………….712-279-6119

Housing Assistance (City of Sioux City)………………………712-279-6348

Inspection Services (City of Sioux City) .................................712-224-52169

FEMA Disaster Assisatance...........................800-621-3362



Clothing Care

Some sources for replacement clothing include: Salvation Army, A.I.D. Center, Goodwill Industries, Thrift shops, second hand clothing stores or even rummage sales.

First aid for wood items

Clean off any dirt or mud. Remove drawers until completely dry to prevent them from sticking. Clean with a brush and cleaning solution and dry thoroughly. Open doors and windows for good ventilation. Wet wood will decay and mold, so you need to deal with wet wood before it is too late. Do not dry wood in the sun as it will warp and twist out of shape. For other wood problems it may be wise to contact a wood worker or refinisher.

First aid for walls

Walls may be washed while wet. Use a mild soap or detergent. Clean one small area at a time, working from the floor up. Ceilings should be washed last. Do not paint until completely dry. If dealing with wallpaper, check with the manufacturer or dealer for proper cleaning instructions. Remove damaged dry wall and insulation.

First aid for linoleum and vinyl

When water is under linoleum or vinyl it can cause the wood underneath to warp. Call a flooring dealer for a solvent to loosen the cement/glue and not damage your flooring. Let the wood underneath dry thoroughly before re-laying any type of linoleum or vinyl.

First aid for carpet and rugs

Rugs and carpets should be allowed to dry thoroughly. Throw rugs can be cleaned by beating, sweeping, or vacuuming, and then shampooing. Rugs should be dried as quickly as possible. Lay them flat and expose them to warm, circulated, dry air. A fan turned on the rugs will speed drying. Make sure the rugs are thoroughly dry. If you can't clean and dry them within 24 to 48 hours the CDC recommends discarding. Even though the surface seems dry, moisture remaining at the base of the tufts can quickly cause the rug to rot. For information on cleaning and preserving carpets, call your carpet dealer, installer, or a qualified carpet cleaning professional.

First aid for food

Wash your canned goods in detergent and water. Do the same for food in jars. If labels come off, be sure you mark the contents on the can or jar with a grease pencil. Do not use canned goods when the cans have bulged or rusted. Do not refreeze frozen food that has thawed.

To remove odor from your refrigerator or freezer, wash the inside with a solution of baking soda and water, or use one cup of vinegar or household ammonia to one gallon of water. Baking soda in an open container or a piece of charcoal also can be placed in the refrigerator or freezer to absorb odor.

First aid for electrical appliances

Do not use appliances that have been exposed to water or steam until you have a service representative check them. This is especially true of electrical appliances. In addition, steam can remove the lubricant from some moving parts. If your gas or electricity were turned off during the flood, call the electric or gas company to restore these services. Do not try to do it yourself.

Locks and hinges

Locks (especially iron locks) should be taken apart and wiped with oil. If locks cannot be removed, squirt machine oil through a bolt opening or keyhole, and work the knob to distribute the oil. Hinges should also be thoroughly cleaned and oiled.

Cleaning Tips:

- Tackle one room at a time.

- A two bucket approach is most efficient: use one bucket for rinse water and the other for the cleaner.

- Rinse out your sponge, mop, or cleaning cloth in the rinse bucket. Wring it as dry as possible and keep it rolled up tight as you put it in the cleaner         bucket. Let it unroll to absorb the cleaner.

 -Using two buckets keeps most of the dirty rinse water out of your cleaning solution.

 -Replace the rinse water frequently.

Tools and Supplies Check List:

- Respirator

- Goggles

 -Rubber Gloves

- Boots



- Rakes

- Garbage bags

 -Utility Knife

- Fans

Checklist for the next steps after a flood

1. Return home only when officials have declared the area safe.

2. Before entering your home, look outside for loose power lines, damaged gas lines, foundation cracks or other damage.

3. Parts of your home may be collapsed or damaged. Approach entrances carefully. See if porch roofs and overhangs have all their supports.

4. If you smell natural or propane gas or hear a hissing noise, leave immediately and call the fire department.

5. If power lines are down outside your home, do not step in puddles or standing water.

6. Keep children and pets away from hazardous sites and   floodwater.

7. Photograph the exterior, interior, and during all phases of recovery.  This will assist with insurance and assistance claims.

8. Register with FEMA at, regardless if you think you may be eligible for disaster assistance.

9. Materials such as cleaning products, paint, batteries, contaminated fuel and damaged fuel containers are hazardous. Check with local authorities for assistance with disposal to avoid risk.

10. Proceed with immediate cleanup measures to prevent any health hazards. Perishable items which pose a health problem should be listed and photographed before discarding. Throw out fresh food and previously opened medicines that have come in contact with floodwater.

11. During cleanup, wear protective clothing, including respirators, rubber gloves and rubber boots.

12. Use caution when removing standing water from flooded basements.  While basements should be drained and cleaned as soon as possible, water should be removed gradually to minimize chances of structural damage due to different pressures on either side of the wall.

13. Make sure your food and water are safe. Discard items that have come in contact with floodwater, including canned goods, water bottles, plastic utensils and baby bottle nipples. When in doubt, throw it out!

14. Do not use water that could be contaminated to wash dishes, brush teeth, prepare food, wash hands, make ice or make  baby formula.

15. Contact your local or state public health department for   specific recommendations for boiling or treating water in your area after a disaster as water may be contaminated.

16. Monitor humidity levels inside your home prior to replacing finish materials (floors, walls, ceilings) to minimize chances of mold growth.

         17.  Take care of yourself and your family.  Get plenty of rest and ask for help. Do not attempt it all alone


REPORT PROPERTY DAMAGES AT :  Citizen Damage Reporter (

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This content was printed from the County website at on July 15, 2024.