• What to Do If Your Houston Home Flooded during Hurricane Harvey
  • September 25, 2017
  • Real estate experts across Houston have been inundated with phone calls from clients asking what to do about flood damage inside their home in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

    An estimated 30,000 to 40,000 homes were flooded in Houston in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, according to Harris County Judge Ed Emmett. Only about 17 percent of homeowners in the Houston area have flood insurance, according to a Washington Post analysis of Federal Emergency Management data.

    Amy Bernstein, a Houston Realtor and founder of Bernstein Realty, was one of the fortunate ones. Although her Memorial-area home flooded twice before, it did not flood during Hurricane Harvey.

    “I think I got a pass this time,” Bernstein said.

    Bernstein, like many other real estate professionals, is now advising her clients about repairing their homes and filing flood claims, if they have insurance. Here’s what to do if your home floods, according to real estate experts in Houston:

    - Immediately after a flood, take photos of the water damage and alert your home insurance company right away. After a major flood event, insurance companies are inundated with claims, so be sure to get a head start on the process by calling early.

    “Document, document, document,” Bernstein said. “Tape measure where the water line is and take photos of that so your insurance company can see how high the water came inside and outside your home.”

    - Rip out and throw out any water-damaged wood floors, drywall and insulation. Bernstein recommends that homeowners tear out their homes immediately, without waiting for a insurance adjuster. Just make sure to take plenty of photos and keep some physical evidence of the damage.

    “The longer you leave it wet, it’s worse for the house,” Bernstein said. “Take as many photos and videos if you begin the tearout process now."

    - Get a mold inspection on any home that was flooded or renovated after a flood. Remediate any mold found. It’s important to make sure residents are safe from mold, which can cause health problems.

    - If you’re renovating and remodeling your home after a flood, consider getting wood-like tile floors instead of wood or carpeted floors that is harder to clean up. Homeowners recommend buying furniture with metal legs and building shelving units at least three feet off the ground to minimize damage from future floods.

    - There are several options homeowners can take after a flood. They can renovate their home; raise their home; tear down and rebuild their home or sell it and move. Whatever option they take, beware of shady contractors who might come into the neighborhood looking to scam homeowners.

    “There will be remediation companies here that chase storms for a living,” Bernstein said. “Also, check to see if these companies are covered by your insurance company and read the small print. My first remediation bill was $40,000 and my insurance only covered $18,000 of it.”

    - If you don’t have flood insurance, get it. Remember to get an elevation certificate when you purchase a home, because they serve as the basis for federal flood insurance.

    “I tell all my clients, get flood insurance even if your home has never flooded," said Paul Silverman, a Realtor with Martha Turner Sotheby’s International Realty who grew up in Meyerland. "No if, ands or buts.”