Reminders of What To Avoid After a Flood

While there are many organizations and skilled individuals to help you navigate the complex system of recovering from disaster, ultimately you are responsible for your own recovery. Here are some lessons learned from Hurricane Sandy recovery, provided by NJVOAD, to help you avoid some pitfalls:

  • Don’t enter your home if you smell gas, hear a hissing noise or if floodwaters remain around the building.
  • Don’t turn on the utilities until you’ve been given the all-clear from the fire department or some other professional.
  • Don’t use any electronics when flooring or walls are wet, and turn off power at the main fuse box or electrical circuit if you can do so safely. If water damage was significant, have an electrician check the wiring before using.
  • Don’t clean up before you’ve documented damage! This includes removing debris, ripping out damaged flooring or drywall, disposing of spoiled or potentially exposed food, etc. For more on food safety, visit the CDC’s websote .
  • Don’t provide social security number or date of birth information without verifying the person collecting the information is from FEMA or a verified provider of services (FEMA and other government officials always wear badges). Never provide this information over the phone unless you are making the call to a verified FEMA number.
  • Don’t hire a door-to-door contractor or anyone without verifying they are legitimate. Call the NJ Division of Consumer Affairs at 800-242-5846 to find out if the contractor is registered and licensed, or visit the Better Business Bureau website: .
  • Don’t sign a contract you can’t afford or understand. Only sign a contract after fully being certain of, and understanding the following:
    • A detailed proposal is included which outlines the full scope of work and includes time frames for work completion and a
      reasonable payment schedule.
    • The contractor is qualified, licensed and insured to perform the necessary work on your home.
    • Ask for references and talk to others so you know what you’re getting before you sign.
  • Note: there are often legal services available to support disaster survivors – call 211 or visit to learn about available resources.

Don’t give up! Recovery is hard, but you are not alone. You can dial the disaster distress helpline at 800-985-5990 for support.