What to do if your home floods in Houston

May 20, 2016, 8:42am CDT

One year after the Memorial Day floods, the Houston Business Journal spoke with Meyerland residents about their efforts to rebuild after two deadly and destructive floods in less than a year.

Homeowners and Realtors in the southwest Houston suburb shared stories of their resilience in the face of the Memorial and Tax Day floods, which are chronicled in HBJ’s May 20 print edition.

Meyerland residents also imparted wisdom on what Houstonians should do if they find their home under water. Here is their advice:

– 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. No if, ands or buts,” said Paul Silverman, a Realtor with Martha Turner Sotheby’s International Realty who grew up in Meyerland.

– 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.

– Rip out and throw out any water-damaged wood floors, drywall and insulation.

“Unfortunately with water, once it gets in, six inches or two feet doesn’t make a whole lot of difference,” said Lawrence Dean, a Meyerland resident and senior advisor with Metrostudy.

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

– 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.

– 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.

– If your home has been flooded twice, the city of Houston is offering a grant to help homeowner raise their home. Elevating a home is an expensive endeavor — costing upwards of $100,000 — but it can help mitigate future flood damage.

– If you’re looking at tearing down and rebuilding a home, be sure to communicate your design ideas to the homebuilder as soon as you can.

“If clients can do that, it can speed up the design process,” said Jim Lemming, president of Partners in Building, a Houston homebuilder that is helping Meyerland residents rebuild from the floods.

– Last, work with city, county, state and federal officials to come up with a solution to flooding in Houston.

“It’s vitally important that everyone stay involved with their elected officials,” said Ed Wolff, a Meyerland resident and CEO of Beth Wolff Realtors. “The further we get from a rainstorm, the more people forget that we have a problem.”

Paul Takahashi covers residential and multifamily commercial real estate for the Houston Business Journal

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