How to prepare for a flood: Flooding lessons learned from Florence

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Hurricane history has taught us that a tropical system moving through North Carolina can be devastating for anyone – no matter how far inland you live.

One woman learned this lesson personally when Florence flooded her home, destroying 75% of her belongings.

“It seems silly,” said Barbara Pilcher, “But you think, ‘Where’s that recipe? Oh yeah, Florence took it.'”

Florence, the thief – or hurricane – ransacked almost everything she owned.

“When you walk into your house and it smells, it’s shocking,” said Pilcher.

Lesson one: Salvage your belongings quickly

The first lesson she learned: Work fast to get everything out of your flooded home and salvage what you can.

She and her family had attempted to protect their possessions before they fled Florence – setting precious items up high, where they thought they would be safe.

“But that’s not always the case – because once the bottom of a wall weakens, then shelves and things can fall down,” said Pilcher. “Furniture can start floating and knock over other things.”

Lesson two: Make sure you aren’t overcharged for repairs

Once they got everything out, the next ordeal began: Repairs.

It was stressful, she said, allowing strangers in your home during such a vulnerable time, and trusting them to try and fix and save your home.

“You just take your chances,” said Pilcher. “You have to be your own advocate. You have to watch everything that’s being done.”

Pilcher visited her home every single day while it was being repaired – to watch progress, and keep an eye on invoices so she’d know what they were being charged as costs added up.

5 On Your Side examines a flood insurance option with greater coverage potential

Lesson three: Make sure your flood insurance covers belongings

Another takeaway from Pilcher: Make sure you have the right insurance coverage.

Since Pilcher lives in a flood plain, they already had flood insurance. However, they did not add coverage for contents, such as clothes, furniture and appliances.

“We opted out because we thought, ‘It’s never going to get that bad,'” she said. “Surprise.”

It’s a surprise no one wants. So prepare ahead as hurricane season begins.