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Page last updated at 11:56 GMT, Wednesday, 2 December 2009
Cumbrian Floods 2009

Belinda Artingstoll

In 2005, BBC Radio Cumbria's Belinda Artingstoll became a victim of the floods that struck Carlisle and north Cumbria.

Here she presents her tips for what to do after the flood waters have subsided in an easy to read and follow form.

1. Take photos of all your flooded rooms as soon as you can and not just of the flood damage i.e. take photos above and below the waterline. You will find that once they start to strip stuff out you will forget what the rooms looked like and where all the fixtures and fittings were and what they looked like. For example I couldn't remember the design of my my door architraves and didn't have a photo to refer to.

2. Make a list of what needs to be done in each room and give a copy to the builder or surveyor. This will allow you to monitor what's being done and make sure you and they don't forget anything. Otherwise you might find things like are missed out e.g. I nearly ended up without any phone points in my downstairs rooms. It's easy over the course of many months to lose track of what's happening.

3. The insurance company and loss adjustor will tell you how much it's giving you for a new kitchen, carpets etc Contest this if you think it's not right. Get quotes and brochures to back up your case. If you have the original receipts then so much the better. I had to contest the amount being given for both downstairs fires and my bathroom suite. If you get this sorted out as early as possible then you won't delay things even more. It's good to do this while your house is drying out.

4. Make sure you are clear about what you are entitled to when your house is being repaired ... if you have an old house for example then you can ask for old style wide floorboards to be used and you can have exact copies of internal woodwork like skirting and door architraves re-instated. Also you can ask for certain things to be kept...whether it's fittings or furniture ... they will try and throw everything out but you are allowed to keep things, especially of sentimental value....although you obviously have to accept the consequences of keeping water damaged furniture etc. For example I kept my grandad's old desk even though it's got a tide mark round the bottom marking the level the flood waters reached.

5. If you can, go in every day once the building work starts ... this will allow you to pick up on any problems. The insurance company may appoint a surveyor on your behalf but they are only there to check the work is being done to certain standards ... they won't care if the builders are laying the wrong tiles or painting your kitchen the wrong colour. For example I went in one day to find them tiling my bathroom walls with two different types of tiles and they hadn't noticed until I pointed it out!

One last thing ... be patient. When your house has dried out you may expect the building to start right away and for them to be on site from then on until the job is done. This is unlikely to happen because each builder will be working on several properties at a time and you could find that they do nothing on your house for weeks at a time. I was out for 10 months so expect to be out of your house for around a year and if it's any earlier than that then it's a bonus.

If your house or business was flooded recently then I hope you find this useful and good luck.


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