Storm Dennis: What to do if your house has flooded

Storm Dennis has caused severe damage to communities across Wales over the weekend.

A month’s worth of rain fell in 48 hours and South Wales Police declared a “major incident” as people had to be evacuated from their homes.

Trains have been cancelled and roads closed whilst flood water drains and the subsequent damage can be assessed and then repaired.

The clean-up begins today but what should you do if your house or business has been affected?

Who can I call for help?

If there is an immediate risk to life you should call 999.

You can check for updates by phoning Floodline 0345 988 1188.

What should I do about my electricity, is it safe to use?

If it is safe to do so, switch off your electricity supply at the fuse box. If there is evidence of water inside the fuse box, seek professional advice.

Only turn the electricity back on once you have spoken to your electricity provider and are sure it is safe to.

Do not touch sources of electricity when standing in flood water.

Unplug damaged electrical appliances and move all portable ones away from the area affected by flooding.

Ensure that you have a working smoke alarm too as there is an increased risk of fire from wet electrics.

Can I use my water and gas too?

Arrange for your gas to be switched off if it is has not been already.

Electricity and gas supplies should not be turned back on until you have had professional advice that it is safe to do so. Speak to your supplier if you are unsure.

Nantgarw flooding
If you have already left your house, find out from emergency services if it is safe to re-enter.

Is it unsafe for me to stay at home?

Follow advice from emergency services, if they have said you need to evacuate then do.

If you have already left your house, find out from emergency services if it is safe to re-enter.

When returning to your property, take extra care as there may be hidden dangers caused by the flooding such as structural damage. There may also be hazards hidden below the flood water that you could injure yourself on.

Where should I go if I cannot stay at home?

Local authorities have set up emergency centres for residents who have been displaced.

Most centres will let you bring your pets. You should take pet food and remember to put cats and small animals in a pet carrier or secure box.

Alternatively, check with friends and family if they have room to take you in whilst the clean-up is underway.

Only go back home if it is safe to do so.

Flooding in Nantgarw
Local authorities and communities have set up their own centres offering help to people.

Can I claim on my insurance?

Contact your insurance company as soon as possible. They should have a 24-hour emergency helpline you can call.

If possible take photographs of the damage to your property and get the insurance company’s advice before you start clearing up. Use a permanent pen to mark on the wall the height the water got to.

Your insurance company will be able to provide information on dealing with your claim and help you get things back to normal.

In almost all cases, the company will send a loss adjuster to look at your property and confirm what is covered by your policy.

Ask the insurance company things like who is responsible for cleaning the house (yourself or a company they pick) and if they will provide you with temporary accommodation.

If you do not have insurance, your local council should be able to provide information on hardship grants or charities that may be able to help you.

Can I keep my belongings that have become damp?

Flood water is likely to be dirty and contaminated so do not eat any food that has been touched by the waters, or even nearby the water for a long period of time.

If the water was high enough to reach your fridge or food cupboards, it is safest to throw the food away.

Be sure to thoroughly wash any tableware and kitchenware that might have been caught in the flood before you use it again.

Assess what furniture is salvageable, it is likely that soft furnishings will not be.

Keep in mind that furniture may still be damp from moisture in the air even if it was not submerged.

Ask for advice from a professional when it comes to your walls and floors. It is likely that any wet insulation will need to be removed and thrown out.

How can I dry out my house?

Dehumidifiers and wet hoovers can help dry and suck the water out of carpets but these may not be enough if the damage was severe. It is more likely that carpets and rugs will have to be thrown away.

Whilst you are cleaning up, do as much as you can in the daylight as doing anything in the dark will be a lot harder, especially if you have no electricity.

Home damaged by flood
Do not walk or drive through floodwater – it only takes six inches of fast flowing water to knock you over.
Flooded home in Aberdulais
It is not just homes affected, some businesses in places like Pontypridd have also been left damaged by floodwater.

What else can I do to keep myself and others safe?

Do not walk or drive through floodwater – it only takes six inches of fast flowing water to knock you over and two feet of water is enough to float your car.

Be careful of fallen trees and power lines.

Check on your neighbours, especially if they are elderly or vulnerable, to see if they are ok.

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