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Cleaning Up after a Flood

There are several practical steps you can take after a flood to get your home back to normal as quickly as possible.

Dos and Don'ts


  • Call your Insurance Company. Tell them what has happened. They will need to get moving quickly.
  • Contact the gas, electricity and water companies. You will need to have your supplies checked before you turn them back on. Find the numbers on a recent bill or in the phone book.
  • Open your doors and windows to ventilate your property. Remember to unblock air vents and doors. Make sure that your property is secure when you leave it.
  • Wash taps and run them for a few minutes before use. It is unlikely that mains tap water will be contaminated but do check with the water company if you are at all concerned. If you are in any doubt boil drinking/cooking water before consumption.
  • Watch out for any broken glass or nails while you are clearing up.
  • Check Yellow Pages under Flood Damage for suppliers of cleansing materials or to dry out your property.


  • Turn on any electrical items back on. Make sure they have dried out first.

Health Advice

Don't be complacent about hygiene. Keep following the health advice.

Health risks are considered to be low nevertheless make sure you follow these hygiene precautions:

  • Wear rubber gloves when clearing up floodwater damage.
  • Any cuts should be covered with waterproof dressings.
  • Wash away surface debris, silt and mud with hot water and detergent.
  • Wipe over surfaces with a weak solution of bleach (5 mls to 1 ltr water). Alternatively, use an antibacterial disinfectant such as "Milton", "Dettox" etc, and follow the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Remember to wash your hands before eating or smoking.
  • If you feel unwell in the next few days, especially with a stomach upset, see your doctor and tell him or her you have been clearing up flood water.

Private Well Water Supply

There is a danger that if you have a private water supply the water could become contaminated after a flood. The Council will arrange to test your supply if you are at all concerned. Please ring 01279 655261 and ask for Environmental Health. In the meantime you are recommended to use bottled water or to boil water before consumption.

Drying Out Your Home - Advice to Owners

In most historic buildings and even in modern properties, it is strongly advised that drying out of the structure should take place SLOWLY by the use of Dehumidifiers assisted by low levels of heating if weather makes this necessary, and by the introduction of natural ventilation.

Rapid drying by applied extremes of heat will probably lead to problems of timber movement and cause further damage to buildings with historic fabric, especially when timber frames are present. This can lead to rot and other problems of twisting and warping which may in themselves need to be rectified in the future.

If you are in any doubt about methods to be used when drying out your property, or require other advice about related issues please contact the District Council's Conservation Officers on 01279 655261

Beware of Bogus Callers

There have been reports of people calling at flood damaged houses saying they represent the gas and electricity companies. All genuine service crews carry an ID card. Always ask to see it.

Cowboy Traders - Beware!

Most builders are legitimate and will provide a decent service. However, Trading Standards Officers give the following advice about Cowboy Builders:

  • If approached by builders, treat with extreme caution.
  • Ask for a quotation in writing.
  • Get a quotation from other builders.
  • Make sure you have a contact name and address of the builder.
  • Don't pay before any work is done.
  • Clear any arrangements you make for your building work with your insurers.

Trading Standards Officers advise not to deal with anyone who knocks at your door selling products or services including insurance but, if they do, they say:

  • Never enter into any contract without reading the small print.
  • Tell the seller you want plenty of time to read the information before deciding whether or not to buy the product or service.
  • Shop around and look at other companies and businesses to get the best deal.

Removal of Large Household Goods

We offer a Bulky Rubbish Collection to collect goods such as fridges, sideboards, wardrobes etc. 

Alternatively, you can take any unwanted items to one of our Household Waste & Recycling Centres (Tip).

Housing/Accommodation Needs

You should contact your insurance company in the first instance, as you may be covered for temporary accommodation while work is being carried out. Tenants of Registered Social Landlords will need to contact their own Landlords for help and advice.

If you need to contact a Homelessness Officer phone East Herts Council on 01279 655261 and ask for the Housing Options team. Out of office hours, the Emergency Out of Hours Control Centre number will be given.

Local Taxation Relief on Flood Damaged Dwellings and Businesses

If you are a victim of the floods and have had to move from your home, you may be entitled to an exemption from your Council tax until your home is repaired and reoccupied. To make a claim please contact The Revenue Service of East Herts District Council on 01279 655261.

If your business is closed because of flood damage it will be exempted from Business Rates for a period of time depending on the nature of your business. Contact the Revenue Service of East Herts District Council on 01279 655261. If the damage is likely to take more than three months to repair, your premises may be taken out of Rating until the repairs are complete. If this is likely to be the case you should also contact the Valuation Officer on 01727 774700

Contact Environmental Health on 01279 655261 if you require any further advice.

Useful Information

0845 988 1188 - Floodline 24hr Information Service