Flood Recovery Tips

Mental Health

Recovery following a flood can be a difficult process. During this period of transition, it is important for those affected to eat and sleep well, seek medical attention if necessary, stay connected with family and friends, and establish priorities and goals.

Common reactions to traumatic events include: difficulty making decisions or focusing, feeling depressed, changes in appetite or sleeping patterns, feeling mentally and physically drained and becoming easily frustrated. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, address them with a licensed mental health professional. For information regarding mental health resources available in your community, visit the MDCH website and click on your county at www.michigan.gov/mdch/0,1607,7-132-2941_4868_4899-178824--,00.html.

Everyone's reaction to a disaster is different. If you have children, pay extra attention to their reactions as their ability to cope is often tied to your reaction. You can help your children cope by managing your own feelings and establishing a sense of control. Additionally, senior citizens, disabled citizens and those who do not speak English as a first language are at particular risk. You can help these populations by giving extra attention and providing resources as needed.


Is the floodwater safe? You can prevent injuries by avoiding or minimizing your exposure to floodwater. Floodwater can be contaminated with chemicals and/or sewage, and can have dangerous pieces of floating or hidden metal and glass. Be sure to turn off main electrical breakers or fuse boxes and avoid downed power lines to prevent electrocution.

Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas produced by many types of equipment and is poisonous to breathe. Don't use a generator, pressure washer, charcoal grill, camp stove or other gasoline- or charcoal-burning device inside your home, basement or garage or near a window, door or vent. Don't run a car or truck inside a garage attached to your house, even if you leave the door open. If your carbon monoxide detector sounds, leave your home immediately and call 911. Seek prompt medical attention if you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning and are feeling dizzy, light-headed or nauseated.

Avoid unstable buildings and structures. Stay away from damaged buildings or structures until they have been examined and certified as safe by a building inspector or other government authority. Leave immediately if you hear shifting or unusual noises that signal the structure is about to fall.

Beware of electrical and fire hazards. NEVER touch a fallen power line. Call the utility company to report fallen power lines. Avoid contact with overhead power lines during cleanup and other activities. If electrical circuits and equipment have gotten wet or are in or near water, turn off the power at the main breaker or fuse on the service panel. Do not turn the power back on until electrical equipment has been inspected by a qualified electrician. DO NOT burn candles near flammable items or leave the candle unattended. If possible, use flashlights or other battery-operated lights instead of candles.


Identify and throw away food that may not be safe to eat. Throw away food that may have come in contact with flood or storm water. Throw away canned foods that are bulging, opened or damaged. Throw away food that has an unusual odor, color, or texture. Throw away perishable foods (including meat, poultry, fish, eggs and leftovers) that have been above 40 degrees for 2 hours or more. Thawed food that contains ice crystals or is 40 degrees or below can be refrozen or cooked. If cans have come in contact with floodwater or storm water, remove the labels, wash the cans, and dip them in a solution of 1 part of bleach to 10 partsof water. Re-label the cans with a marker.

Store food safely.While the power is out, keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. Add block ice or dry ice to your refrigerator if the electricity is expected to be off longer than 4 hours. Wear heavy gloves when handling ice.

Listen to and follow public announcements. Local authorities will tell you if tap water is safe to drink or to use for cooking or bathing. If the water is not safe to use, follow local instructions to use bottled water or to boil or disinfect water for cooking, cleaning, or bathing.


What You Will Need:
  • Flashlight
  • First aid kit
  • Closed toed protective footwear
  • Safety clothing such as gloves
  • Camera to record damage
  • Tools
  • Trash bags
  • Cleaning supplies
Never go into a basement with standing water in it unless you are sure the electricity is off.

Clean up and prevent mold growth. Clean up and dry out the building quickly (within 24 to 48 hours). Open doors and windows. Use fans to dry out the building. To PREVENT mold growth, clean wet items and surfaces with detergent and water. To REMOVE mold growth, wear rubber gloves, open windows and doors and clean with a bleach solution of 1 cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water. Throw away porous items (for example, carpet and upholstered furniture) that cannot be dried quickly. Fix any leaks in roofs, walls or plumbing.

Pace yourself and get support.Be alert to physical and emotional exhaustion or strain. Set priorities for cleanup tasks and pace the work. Try not to work alone. Don't get exhausted. Ask your family members, friends or professionals for support. If needed, seek professional help.

Prevent musculoskeletal injuries. Use teams of two or more people to move bulky objects. Avoid lifting any material that weighs more than 50 pounds (per person). Wear protective gear for cleanup work. Wear hard hats, goggles, heavy work gloves and watertight boots with steel toes and insoles (not just steel shank). Wear earplugs or protective headphones to reduce risk from equipment noise.


  • Be aware that a pet's behavior may change before, during and even after a disaster.
  • Familiar scents and landmarks may be altered and your pet may become confused and lost.
  • In the first few days after the disaster, leash your pets when they go outside.
  • Always maintain close contact.
  • Reintroduce food in small servings, gradually working up to full portions, especially if animals have been without food for a prolonged period of time.
  • Pets can be poisoned by exposure to harmful chemicals, products or foods.
  • If you suspect that your pet has been poisoned, call the Animal Poison Control Center toll-free 1-888-426-4435.

Source: www.Prep4AgThreats.org