Severe thunderstorms bringing heavy rainfall have caused dangerous flash flooding in parts of New South Wales, with homes being impacted around Lake Conjola on the state’s South Coast. 

The Bureau of Meteorology has issued severe weather warnings for affected regions, cautioning about life-threatening flash floods, damaging winds, and six-hourly rainfall expected to exceed 120mm. People are advised to avoid driving through floodwaters, stay clear of fallen power lines, and evacuate if necessary.

But there’s more to watch out for.

Quick action is necessary for those whose homes suffer damage in the floods to ensure safety, prevent further property damage, and begin the recovery process. Key steps include:

  • Stopping the water flow
  • Turning off electricity
  • Evacuating if unsafe
  • Calling for emergency assistance
  • Documenting damage
  • Starting cleanup efforts
  • Preventing mould growth, 
  • Contacting your landlord or insurer
  • Calling in a plumber if needed.

This article provides an overview of essential actions to take if your house is flooded amidst the ongoing severe weather events in New South Wales. It offers guidance on initial safety precautions, securing your home against additional damage, beginning remediation efforts, and contacting the relevant authorities or insurance providers. 

Canberra Flooding: Evacuate and Ensure Safety

If Canberra’s recent flooding has impacted your home, your priority should be to evacuate and ensure the safety of your family and pets.

You should evacuate your home immediately if authorities instruct you to do so or if you feel remaining inside is unsafe due to rising floodwaters, risk of electrocution from water contacting electrical wiring or structural instability. Additionally, wear sturdy shoes and clothing that provide warmth and protect your extremities when evacuating.

Account for everyone in your household. Move to higher ground away from the flooding, such as a neighbour’s home on a higher elevation or a local emergency shelter.

If anyone requires medical assistance, call 000 immediately. Emergency responders may be delayed reaching you due to flooded roads, so be prepared with first aid supplies if possible.

Remember to stay alert for changing conditions and additional evacuation orders from local emergency authorities like ESA ACT.  Do not attempt to drive or walk through floodwaters, which can conceal road damage and move deeper or faster than they appear, and wait for authorities to declare it is safe before returning to your home.

Stop the Water Source

If your home is flooded by external water sources like heavy rain or overflowing storm drains, the first priority is to locate and turn off the main water valve leading into your home’s plumbing system. This is critical to stop additional flooding from internal plumbing leaks or bursts that may be exacerbated by external flooding.

The main water shut-off valve is typically located where the water line enters your home, often in the basement, garage, or an external wall. Turning this valve to the closed position will shut off the water supply to your home’s entire plumbing network.

Locating and turning off the main water valve quickly can reduce property damage from internal flooding. It will further stop water from entering and spreading through your home’s damaged plumbing system. Preventing continued water flow will also address any unsafe electrical situations safely.

Take caution when moving through standing water to access the main water valve. Wear rubber boots and waterproof clothing. Do not access electrical panels or outlets while standing in water. Enlist help from emergency responders if you cannot safely reach your home’s main water valve.

Contact a Plumber

Call a licensed plumber as soon as possible to inspect your home’s plumbing system and locate any leaks or pipe bursts. Even blocked drains can be a massive issue during these instances.

Our plumbers can advise on necessary repairs to stop additional water from entering and spreading through your damaged plumbing network, or help with any blockages. This is critical to prevent further flooding and water damage inside your home.

Getting pipe issues identified and fixed quickly by a professional plumber will also help prevent the growth of mould, which can occur within 48 hours of flooding.  Mould remediation is expensive, so preventing its formation is ideal.

Contact Your Landlord/Insurer

Thoroughly document any property damage from the flooding with photos and videos. This documentation is important for filing an insurance claim.

Renters should contact their landlord or property manager to report the flood damage. Provide them with documentation and discuss the next steps for repairs and restoring the property’s safety.

Homeowners should promptly contact their insurer to file a claim. Insurers can provide advice on working with approved contractors for cleanup and repairs. Provide them with documentation of the damage to support your claim.

Dry and Clean Flooded Areas

Once floodwaters have receded from your home, focus on removing any standing water and thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting submerged areas. This will help prevent further damage and the growth of mould.

Use a pump, wet/dry vacuum, or mops to remove as much excess water as possible. Open windows and doors and use fans to circulate air and dry out the space as quickly as possible. The faster you can dry flooded areas, the less chance mould has to develop. Mould can grow within 48 hours of a flood if surfaces remain damp.

Thoroughly clean any surfaces or objects the floodwaters touched using disinfectants like bleach solutions, vinegar, or antimicrobial cleaners. Wear waterproof boots, gloves, goggles, and a face mask for protection. Removing contaminants and disinfecting is critical for preventing the spread of bacteria like E. coli.

Finally, discard any porous items that cannot be thoroughly disinfected, like carpeting, mattresses, or upholstered furniture. These can harbour mould and bacteria if saturated. Work carefully to avoid exposure to hazardous floodwater contents.

Repairs and Returning Home after Canberra’s Floods

Once floodwaters have fully receded from your Canberra home, repairs recommended by your insurer, landlord, or contractors should be made to restore safety and functionality. This may involve repairs to the building structure, plumbing system, HVAC system, flooring, and walls.

Only return to your home when authorities or your insurer confirm it is safe. Only turn the electricity or gas back on once inspected. Look for new signs of damage or leaks that may have occurred as floodwaters receded. Water exposure can continue to compromise structures long after a flood.

In the days and weeks after returning home, continue closely monitoring your property for any new damage, leaks, or failures. Floodwater often contains contaminants that can corrode or weaken materials. Problems like mould growth may arise during the drying-out process as well. Contact your insurer if new issues occur to ensure proper remediation.

Why Contact a Plumber

Contacting a licensed plumber is critical after your home suffers flood damage for several reasons:

  • We have specialised expertise in locating leaks, bursts, and other issues within home plumbing systems. 
  • Our knowledge can help identify current problems allowing water to enter the home and advise on necessary repairs.
  • Plumbers can also make recommendations on preventative measures to help avoid future flooding from occurring. This may involve inspecting pipe materials, drainage, water pressure, and more to pinpoint vulnerabilities. They can advise homeowners on upgrades or changes to better protect against flooding.
  • Getting pipe problems rapidly fixed by a plumber is vital for stopping the water source and preventing further damage inside the home.
  •  The faster the leaks are repaired, the less chance for mould growth, corrosion, wood warping, and other secondary damage to set in.

Dealing with the aftermath of Canberra flooding? Get in touch with Woden Valley Plumbing & Gasfitting now for urgent assistance.