Returning Home After a Hurricane or Flood

Preparing to return home after evacuating will keep you safer while inspecting and cleaning up the damage to your home. Before traveling, ensure local officials have declared that it’s safe to enter your community and that you have the supplies you will need. Follow the suggestions in the following resources for returning to, inspecting and cleaning your home.

  • Return to as many personal and family routines as possible.
  • Some cleaning solutions can cause toxic fumes and other hazards if mixed together. If you smell a strong odor or your eyes water from the fumes or mixed chemicals, open a window and get out of your home.
  • If you notice a strong gas odor, or if there is any other evidence of a natural gas leak, do not enter your home. Caution: Carbon Monoxide Kills.

Fact Sheet: Clean Up Safely After a Disaster (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Checklist: Returning Home After a Hurricane or Flood (American Red Cross)


  • If water has been present anywhere near electrical circuits and electrical equipment, turn off the power at the main breaker or fuse on the service panel. Do not turn the power back on until electrical equipment has been inspected by a qualified electrician.
  • Avoid any downed electrical wires or equipment. Treat any wire that’s in the street or on someone’s property as if it’s carrying electricity, which can carry painful shocks. Also avoid any puddles or standing water, which can conduct electricity.
  • Immediately report any loose or dangling power lines to the electric company. For ConEd in New York City, report all outages at 1-800-75ConEd or or call/text 311.
  • Be careful near Con Edison work sites in your neighborhood.

Safe Generator Use

Electrical Safety and Generators (Centers for Disease Control)


  • Be careful when moving furnishings or debris since they may be water logged and heavy.
  • Use teams of two or more people to move bulky objects. Avoid lifting any material that weighs more than 50 pounds (per person).
  • Throw out items that absorb water and cannot be cleaned or disinfected (e.g. mattresses, carpeting, cosmetics, stuffed animals and baby toys).
  • Remove all drywall and insulation that has been in contact with flood waters.
  • Clean hard surfaces (e.g. flooring, countertops and appliances) thoroughly with hot water and soap or a detergent.
  • Don’t walk or wade through flood water. It can contain harmful chemicals, toxins, and even raw sewage.
  • Have at least two fire extinguishers, each with a UL rating of at least 10A, at every cleanup job.


Mold can start growing within 24 hours after a flood. Fast and proper mold clean-up is essential for a healthy house.

Re-entering Your Flooded Home

A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home from the EPA

Mold at Home: Clean it, Dry it or Discard it

Mold After a Disaster

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