Flooding has become an increasingly major concern for Houston. Recent destructive torrents have unleashed havoc on our city, sinking our homes and businesses, displacing thousands, turning highways and roads into rivers and event resulting in the deaths of many individuals. In this day and age, it’s important that you know how to protect yourself, your family and your home when a flood strikes.
Before a flood
- Prepare a flood emergency plan
- Get an emergency kit together with first aid, cash, a flashlight and batteries
- Consider buying flood insurance
- Stay tuned to local phone alerts, TV or radio weather updates, instructions or evacuation orders
During a flood
- Don’t attempt to drive through high flood waters. Turn around and go the opposite way, or if stuck, remain where you are and call for help.
- Don’t walk through flood waters to avoid injury from floating debris or possibly being swept away
- Just 6 inches of moving water can knock you down, and 2 feet of water can sweep your vehicle away.
- Flash floods are the #1 cause of weather related deaths in the US, so in the event of one immediately move to higher ground
- If trapped in a car while flood waters rise, immediately leave car, move on top of the car or to higher ground
- Avoid parking near bayous, rivers and creeks during heavy rainfall. These areas can unexpectedly flood, fast!
After a flood
- Do not drive through areas that are still flooded
- Only return home when authorizes say its safe
- Avoid areas where there is damage to power lines or electrical materials
- Photograph damage to your home for insurance purposes
Flood FAQs for Residents and Renters
Who’s responsible for repairs?
Under most apartment lease agreements, the apartment owner is responsible for repairs to the unit. Under state law, owners must “make a diligent effort to repair or remedy a condition” like this. Keep in mind that the speed with which an owner can do this depends on the extent of the damage, and on the availability of material.
What about my furniture, clothes, etc.?
Generally, you and your renters’ insurance company are responsible for your personal belongings. Check your lease agreement.
Do I still have to pay rent?
Under Texas law, if an apartment is “totally unusable,” either the owner or the resident can terminate the lease. If the apartment is “partially unusable,” the resident “is entitled to a reduction in the rent in an amount proportionate to the extent the premises are unusable because of the casualty, but only on judgement of a county or district court.” What this means will depend on the condition of the unit and the extent of the damage. Most owners are doing everything they can to accommodate residents whose apartments flooded, but individual owners and renters will need to work out the specifics.
What about mold?
Mold and mildew are always a concern after a flood event. Residents should make sure personal belongings are dry as best they can. A bleach-based cleaner like Clorox can be really helpful, but be careful with clothing and upholstered furniture. The owner may need to replace sheetrock even above the highest water level, since sheetrock can wick moisture up into parts of the wall that weren’t under water. Many owners are using moisture monitors and dehumidifiers to identify and reduce any lingering moisture.
If you notice any mold in your unit after the repairs have been completed, notify the management immediately in writing.
What about my flooded car?
You need to contact your car insurance company immediately, if you haven’t already. Make sure you take pictures of the damage.
What about safety?
HPD has approved overtime to expand patrols in affected areas, and additional patrol cars are being stationed at properties where units are open due to ongoing repairs.