Flooding damage volunteers

Here are some things to consider doing. Some items may not be applicable to you.

Also see the Flooding – General checklist

If you are going to volunteer to help residents affected by flooding:


  • Drinking water
  • Snacks
  • Gloves
  • Boots and/or hard-soled footwear
  • Mask and/or respirator (especially if mold might be present)
  • Safety goggles/glasses
  • Back brace
  • Hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Anti-bacterial lotion
  • Phone and phone charger
  • Pen/pencil and paper
  • Tools


  • Try to stay with at least one other person at all times
  • When interacting with residents, remember that the volunteer organization that sent you there is not likely to have been able to screen residents, so take the same precautions you would take with any strangers
  • Be prepared to be emotionally affected by the devastation, in many areas floods are actually one of the Common House Problems due to storms.
  • Be aware that residents who have suffered damage and/or loss are likely to be very stressed and might come across as unappreciative, etc. – helpful advice at thresholdshealing.com
  • Stay away from damaged areas unless your assistance has been specifically requested by the residents
  • Be aware that water and water-damaged items may contain bacteria, viruses, mold, chemicals, protozoa, parasites, oil, gasoline and/or raw sewage
  • Encourage residents to take photos of flood-damaged areas and items for insurance
  • Be aware that items are much heavier when wet. Don’t try to move large objects by yourself. Injuries, especially back injuries, are common when cleaning up after a flood.
  • If you suspect a gas leak or smell gas, leave the area immediately & call the gas company
  • Rest, drink and eat often
  • Wash your hands with soap and water, thoroughly and often, especially before handling food, eating or smoking. If possible, use an antibacterial soap on your hands. Avoid biting your nails.

    Before stepping into flood or standing water:

  • Ensure electricity has been turned off. Turn off the electricity at the main breaker or fuse box, even if the power is off in the community. That way, you can decide when the home is dry enough to turn it back on.
  • Watch for hazards in the water, e.g., animals (e.g., snakes), nails, broken bottles, loose flooring, holes
  • Be aware that it is likely to be slippery

    Before entering a flood-damaged structure:

  • Stay out of any building if it is surrounded by floodwaters
  • Use extreme caution when entering buildings … there may be hidden damage, particularly in foundations

    While inside structures:

  • Avoid drinking tap water unless you’re sure it’s safe
    To minimize property damage:
  • Remove mirrors and heavy pictures from walls. They will not stay up if the wallboard is wet.
  • Encourage residents to get a copy of the “Repairing Your Flooded Home” book which is available free from the American Red Cross or state/local emergency managers


Thanks for reading!