After a flood

Financial support after flooding

The government is offering financial support to help households, businesses and farmers recover from the flooding caused by Storm Henk between 2 January and 12 January 2024.

View our Financial support after a flood page for updates on any grants or funding available and to apply

Information for users of septic tanks and private water supplies

Cleaning up safely

If your home or property has been flooded it could be contaminated by oil, silt and sewage. This will need to be carefully and completely cleaned up to remove any health risk. The Environment Agency has information about cleaning your house as well as details of organisations that can help you do this. The UK Health Security Agency also has a useful leaflet on cleaning your home safely after a flood.

Follow these basic precautions to help keep you and your family safe:

  • Do not turn on devices that use gas or electricity as there is a possibility they have got wet. Do not plug in electrical equipment until it has been dried thoroughly and inspected by a qualified electrician. Use a registered electrician to assess the condition and damage to electrical wiring, equipment and appliances that have been affected by the flood.
  • If you must go into remaining flood water, take care as there may be sharp objects you cannot see.
  • Wear waterproof protective clothing, such as rubber boots, waterproof gloves, and face mask and goggles to protect against splashing if you are scrubbing, hosing or pressure washing
  • Cover cuts and abrasions with waterproof dressings to protect from contaminated water.
  • Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly with soap and water – this is the most important way to get rid of harmful bugs and reduce risks from potentially harmful chemicals.
  • Ensure good ventilation if using portable indoor heating appliances to dry out indoor spaces. Do not use fuel-powered appliances indoors as the exhaust gases contain carbon monoxide which can kill.
  • Flood water can contain a mixture of harmful contaminants such as sewage, pathogens and pollutants, therefore, it is important to use effective cleaning solutions that will kill any of the above and avoid any harm to health.
  • Follow detailed safety advice about how to use cleaning products and wear protective clothing and keep the area well ventilated.

Drying things out

  • Natural weathering (and drying out) means to leave wet items out to dry naturally. This is a recommended way to reduce contamination levels, under dry weather conditions. This option may be the most appropriate approach for open areas such as gardens and parks, as sunlight and natural UV radiation are effective at killing micro-organisms
  • Do not use a normal vacuum cleaner on wet surfaces. HEPA vacuum cleaners can filter out biological contaminants; they should only be used once material has dried out. Wet vacuum cleaners are designed to collect residual water from hard floors and some soft furnishings.
  • Once floodwater has receded, dehumidifiers can be used to collect moisture from the air and can aid in drying out a property. Water is collected in the dehumidifier and can be disposed of down your regular water drains and sinks.

Assess whether items are safe to keep

  • Can the item be appropriately and safely cleaned for reuse? If they are beyond repair or disinfection should be removed from the property and placed in appropriate disposal bins, such as council collection bins, skips.
  • Wash clothes and items used for cleaning in a separate wash from other clothes.
  • Get electrical items checked by a qualified electrician once they have thoroughly dried out, before plugging them in.

Getting rid of damaged items

  • Unless they are contaminated, you can dispose of most water-damaged items at one of our household recycling centres. Ask the staff there if you need any help.
  • Be aware of any requirements from your insurers before disposing of items. You may need to show evidence of damage. See Insurance below.

Effects of flooding on health

  • Flooding and heavy rainfall may also affect indoor environmental quality, including increased exposure of households to mould. Heating, dehumidifiers and good ventilation can help dry out your home.
    If you believe that you have extensive fungal growth in your property and that your health might be affected, you should consult your GP.
  • If you have been in contact with flood water and find that you are experiencing flu like symptoms, in the first instance you should call NHS 111. This service will be able to provide with advice and guidance and refer you for treatment if needed. You should make NHS111 aware that you have been in contact with flood water.
  • If you are concerned about contaminated water or sewage in floodwater, call our environmental health team on 01432 261761.

Get help for others

Reusing and disposing of sandbags

Dry out sandbags and store them in a shed, garage or under cover so you can use them again. If you cannot store them, open them up and spread the sand on your garden if you have one. You can then treat the sacks as normal waste. If the sand or bags are contaminated, please dispose of them responsibly. Contact our Environmental Health team for advice if you are unsure, email or call 01432 261761.

Emotional support

If you have felt stressed, anxious or depressed following the flood and would like some psychological and emotional support, the mental health provider in Herefordshire can offer a service to support your wellbeing during this difficult time, please visit Herefordshire Healthy Minds or contact them on 0808 196 9127.

If you need support, contact family and friends, your doctor or an organisation like the Red Cross or the Samaritans.

For local organisations that can offer support see the Talk Community Directory's mental health and wellbeing page.

Insurance and security

If you are worried about the security of your property call West Mercia Police.

Flood Re is a joint initiative between the government and insurers. Its aim is to make the flood cover part of household insurance policies more affordable. You can read about how Flood Re works. It is important that people at high flood-risk in Herefordshire shop around for the best insurance policy. For more information visit the Flood Re website.

A loss adjuster is someone who is employed by an insurance company to decide how much money should be paid to a person making a claim.

A loss assessor is someone appointed by a policy holder to manage a claim on their behalf.

Advice from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) about flooding resilience and on working through the insurance system after a flood:

Flood Re's Build Back Better scheme can enable you to install property flood resilience measures up to the value of £10,000 when repairing your property after a flood.

Report a flood

If you have suffered from flooding now or in the past, let us know where and what happened as this may help us to minimise flooding problems there in the future.

Report a flooding incident