Slide background

Learn from the first-hand experiences of others.

Slide background

Learn from the first-hand experiences of others.

Slide background

Learn from the first-hand experiences of others.

Slide background

Learn from the first-hand experiences of others.


people found Mark's experience helpful.

Did you?

On May 10, 2010, Nashville, Tennessee, experienced a 500-year flood, causing $2 billion of damage and tossing thousands of people out of their homes. Both the condominium I rented with my family and my parents’ home experienced flood damage.

Problems and Issues I Encountered

Removing the damaged property from the home was a huge task. It required many hours, and we had to work on it during the day because there was no power in the condo. We were under pressure because we had to remove damaged items quickly so that workers could get in and tear out the walls to prevent mold from ruining the support beams.

I had to miss several days of work to deal with flood recovery.

If money is no object, waste removal will simply be a matter of hiring a crew and putting it to work as quickly as possible. You should consider that many others have this same notion, and workers’ availability will be limited.

If, like many people, you’re concerned about the money you spend during flood recovery, you will have to handle some tasks on your own. We were fortunate enough to have friends and charitable organizations provide assistance. Not only did they help throw out ruined items, but they also helped tear out the walls. My father was able to find construction workers through his church who helped tear out the plaster in his home as well as put in new plaster.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency was available to assist with recovery soon after the flood occurred. My experience with FEMA went without trouble. The FEMA worker who visited our condo was very helpful and made recommendations about how to value the lost personal property.

After a flood, be aware of expenses beyond just repairing your home. We were displaced; our condo was not in a livable condition, and therefore we didn’t have to pay rent for that month (the last month of our lease). We were able to relocate to my parents’ home. Some neighbors chose to stay in their condos if they had an upper floor that had escaped damage, but some had to move temporarily while workers repaired the damage. FEMA will provide funds for relocation and will also provide funds for storage.

It wasn’t all bad. I mentioned the assistance my family received from charitable organizations. Beyond the assistance FEMA provided, local restaurants gave free food to all the residents of our condo who were working on repairs. Some organizations handed out clothing, cleaning supplies, toiletries and even diapers. My youngest child was sick during the week of the flood, and her pediatrician provided free health care.

If I Could Do It All Over

We didn’t have renter’s insurance for our condo. While this turned out not to be critical – FEMA provided sufficient support – we may have been able to obtain funds to replace everything we lost. FEMA doesn’t cover the total cost of everything you’ve lost.

I would have saved more property. Sometimes I made decisions on what to throw out based on how tired I was of working on the recovery project.

I also would have asked FEMA for more money for storage costs.

My Advice To Others

Keep calm. It’s now a cliché, but nothing could be more important than to keep your wits about you, not only when the waters approach, but at all phases of the recovery process.

Act quickly, but remember to keep calm. You have to move fast. Get to FEMA quickly. Make quick decisions on hiring labor, finding a place to stay, and finding a place to store large items if you’re displaced. Just don’t make rash decisions.

Seek assistance. Ask questions of anyone and everyone. Call charitable organizations. Don’t be afraid to appear powerless, because we are all powerless in the face of a force of nature like a devastating flood.

Read More Recovering from Major Home Damage Stories

see all stories in this category