Immediately after the flood

Steps you should take, and what to consider immediately after a flood.


Rapid Building Assessors partake in the assessment of buildings damaged in weather events and natural disasters. It is a quick, visual assessment to ascertain the use of a building.

Rapid Building Assessors are trained and qualified building officials or engineers and have been briefed about potential site hazards.

Assessors assign placards to each building they review. These are white (can be used), yellow (restricted access) and red (do not enter). A person must not occupy or use a building otherwise than in accordance with the placard, and must not damage, alter, remove or otherwise interfere with the placard or any other signs and notices.

Further detail about what the placards mean for you and your building.

If your building has been assessed and has not been given a red placard (do not enter), then you may enter the building but will need to be aware of potential hazards. The following sections will help you identify potential hazards and keep you and your whanau safe.

Health and safety and contamination

Floodwater may be contaminated by silt and sewage that is deposited as water recedes. The following steps will help minimise contamination risk:

  • When entering the building, wear long trousers, a top with long sleeves, gloves, sturdy shoes, and have a mask handy.
  • Keep small children, pets and anyone with asthma or allergies away during clean-up.
  • Contact the council or a drainlayer if the drainage system appears to be blocked.
  • Pump out flooded aerated water treatment systems and septic tanks, and clear silt from disposal fields. Contact your local council and/or a licensed drainlayer.
  • Discard all food exposed to the flood unless stored in sealed airtight containers
  • Bury or remove accumulations of faecal matter and dead animals
  • Only drink purified water until a safe water supply has been restored. Visit Watercare's website for more information.

Entering the building

Before starting the clean-up, check that the property presents no immediate danger from:

  • continued flooding risk
  • damaged building structure
  • slope instability – be conscious of any changes
  • electric shock – supply should be isolated until initial checks have been carried out and the supply and installations are confirmed as safe by a registered electrician
  • leaking gas – supply should be isolated until checked and tagged as safe by a registered gasfitter
  • water heaters
  • overflowing drains or sewage systems.

Keeping records/evidence

Before any clean-up or repair work begins, take photographs and/or videos of all the damage and store them safely. Where you can see the maximum height that floodwaters came up to, mark that point in each room with a permanent marker.

This information is published by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Chief Executive. It is a general guide only and, if used, does not relieve any person of the obligation to consider any matter to which the information relates according to the circumstances of the particular case. Expert advice may be required in specific circumstances. Where this information relates to assisting people: