After a flood

Wait until you are sure the flooding period has ended before you start to clean and make repairs. Water levels may rise and fall for a short period after the rain has ended.

Check the TV and radio for reports, or phone the Met Office 0370 900 0100 for information.

The following items may be useful:

  • a camera or video camera to record flood damage
  • basic tools such as spanners, screwdrivers, a hammer and nails
  • cleaning tools such as brushes, scrubbing brushes, mops and buckets
  • detergents and disinfectants
  • protective clothing such as rubber boots, gloves and waterproof clothing
  • heaters and fans 
  • heavy duty bin bags

Evidence required for insurance purposes

Know the details of your insurance policy. It is essential that you know what your insurance company will pay for. This may include assistance with temporary accommodation, drying apparatus and electricity and gas inspections.

  • take lots of photographs, or video, of the damage to your home and property
  • mark walls to show water levels

Safety precautions

  • wear protective clothing, in particular avoid contact with skin and eyes - flood water may be contaminated
  • any cuts and grazes should be immediately washed and covered with waterproof plasters - get a tetanus jab if needed
  • do not attempt to move heavy objects, as they may not be stable
  • do not enter any deep water or water that is fast flowing

Dealing with mains services

Do not reconnect your electricity or gas supply until they have been checked by qualified technicians. Temporary electricity can be supplied by generators available from hire shops. Ensure there is adequate ventilation to use a generator.

  • If you smell gas in your home call TRANSCO immediately on 0800 111999

Mains supply water services should not be affected by flooding. However, run a tap for a short while and ensure that no silt has entered the system. If you suspect it has then call Thames Water on 0800 316 9800

Drying out your home

Step 1

Remove standing water – the fire service can provide a pumping out service or you can hire or buy a pump from a shop. Make sure you receive proper guidance on the operation of the equipment. Do not heat your home to more than 4°C until all standing water is removed.

Step 2

Dry the property – the best way is through your central heating system, providing this has been passed as safe by a qualified technician. Set the thermostat to 22°C or above and ensure the home is well ventilated.

While it is important to ventilate your home it is essential to make sure your property is secure. Do not leave doors and windows open when no one is present.

Disposing of waste

Your normal waste disposal will continue and be able to take away a lot of the waste. However, clearly there will be a greater volume of waste and also some large damaged items. Call Streetline on 020 7361 3001 to arrange for additional waste collection.

Choosing a builder to carry out repair work

Check your insurance policy first to see what stipulations they make with respect of building work. Get several quotes.

  • ask for references and confirmation of membership of trade bodies
  • beware of builders touting door-to-door
  • do not pay cash in advance
  • get signed receipts for all work carried out

Checking your property for structural damage

You should make regular checks on your property following a flood, as structural damage is not always immediately apparent.

Check for changes in the line of the roof ridge; ‘buckling’ of walls, identified by horizontal cracks in the walls; vertical or diagonal cracks may indicate that walls or footings have ‘settled’; bulging sections of the property; deep scouring leading to exposed foundations; or any new cracks bigger than 5mm above doors and windows.

Contact a professional structural engineer or surveyor if you find any of the above.

Who to contact for help

The Environment Agency website has lots of information about dealing with floods. Call Floodline on 0345 988 1188.

  • the Fire and Rescue service, though primarily there to help save life, they may be able to assist with water pumping after the flood
  • your insurance company (remember to keep your documents somewhere safe and handy) will help according to the cover you have (they might help with providing builders if needed)
  • your Council - Streetline (tel: 020 7361 3001) will help you dispose of waste
  • your landlord - if you have a landlord, whether a private landlord, or a housing association, it is a good idea to contact them before a flood occurs in order to clarify roles and responsibilities in the event of a flood (get this in writing to avoid disputes later)
  • the police can help you with advice about securing your property after a flood

Information for tenants or lessees of housing trusts

In the first instance you should contact your landlord and explain your concerns – this includes emergency measures to remove flood water and, in extreme circumstances, the need for evacuation. You can find the telephone numbers of housing associations in the A-Z of services.

Emergencies can happen at any time and it is possible that you will need assistance from the Council outside of normal office hours. You can call the Council at any time on 020 7361 3008 for advice and help.

Normally any structural damage caused by flooding will be covered by your landlord’s property insurance. However, you are responsible for your contents, such as furnishings, carpets and electrical appliances. You must take out contents insurance in advance to protect your belongings in the case of a flood and you will need to contact your insurance company for advice on making a claim.

Last updated: 29 November 2019