Flood clean-up assistance and advice
Guidance on how to stay safe when cleaning up after a flood.
Staying safe during clean up after a flood
Never, drive, ride or walk through floodwater. The major cause of death during floods is people entering floodwater.
Floodwater and mud can contain objects and pollutants that are harmful, including:
- germs such as bacteria, fungi and viruses.
Wear protective clothing when cleaning or touching flood-damaged items or material.
Flooding can also lead to an increase in spiders and snakes. If you are bitten, stay calm and call Triple Zero (000).
Be careful around electricity, gas and water sources
If your gas, electricity or water supply is damaged or disconnected, do not attempt to reconnect the service yourself.
Stay away from fallen power lines
After floods and storms, fallen power lines may be live and could electrocute you.
You can also call energy providers to report electricity damage, including:
Solar panels may be dangerous
Solar panels produce electricity even when power has been cut and the panels turned off at the switchboard.
Flood-affected residents should read the Master Electricians Australia (MEA) warning about solar panels.
Call the Master Electricians Australia (MEA) on 1300 889 198 to find local electricians to make solar panels safe.
Check gas connections
Gas supply can be interrupted by a flood.
Ideally, home gas connections have been turned off before a flood event.
Gas appliances and gas bottles that have been exposed to floodwater should be inspected for safety before using them.
Read the Jemena gas outage explainer to understand the how gas supply is reconnected.
Contact your local gas provider for more information.
Buildings after a flood
Do not enter damaged buildings or structures, unless authorities tell you it is safe.
Be alert to snakes, spiders, rats and other wildlife that may have taken refuge in the building, structure or furniture.
Wall and floor cavities should be checked for mud, debris and floodwater. If items are not completely dry, mould or mildew may develop.
It's best for licensed builders, tradespeople and contractors to check and reconnect services and do any repair work associated with:
demolishing dangerous structures
electrical wiring, plumbing, drainage, gasfitting
air conditioners and solar energy panels.
Cleaning up debris and waste
Waste levies and safe disposal options
Local councils can help direct residents to dispose of rubbish and other waste. Read more on local information for flood-affected residents.
Residents can take flood-affected household items to their local landfill. The waste levy is usually waived in local government areas subject to natural disaster declaration.
Check your local landfill websites for opening hours and whether there are special requirements for disposing of flood-damaged waste.
You may wish to bag and safely store chemical or hazardous waste on your property to be disposed of safely later on.
Problem household wastes like fluorescent lights, smoke detectors, paint, gas bottles, fire extinguishers, batteries and oils can be taken to Community Recycling Centres for safe disposal.
The NSW Environmental Protection Authority runs Household Chemical Cleanout events to safely dispose of household chemicals that harm human health and the environment.
Speed up removal by separating different waste
Separate waste into:
- food waste – use your red lid bin first. If the bin is full, put food waste in a container
- hard bulk waste (furniture, carpets, mattresses)
- green waste (vegetation)
- scrap metal (whitegoods and e-waste)
hazardous materials (gas bottles, paint, pool chemicals, unlabelled drums).
Dealing with asbestos
Asbestos is in many houses and buildings, usually in the form of flat or corrugated sheets (fibro) used for walls, ceilings and roofing.
It can also be in pipes, electrical conduit, eaves or the backing under vinyl flooring.
A licensed asbestos removalist is the best way to remove asbestos, but this is not always possible after a disaster.
Asbestos materials are less of a risk when they are wet.
If members of the community find asbestos debris on their property, and a licensed removalist is not an option, they should at a minimum:
- Wear gloves and a P2 mask (not an ordinary paper mask or bandanna).
- Wear protective overalls or a shirt with long sleeves and trousers.
- Pick up (don’t sweep) the pieces of asbestos and place in a thick plastic bag, together with the gloves and face mask when finished.
- Knot the top of the plastic bag when finished.
- Place the knotted plastic bag into a second empty plastic bag and knot the top.
- Label the bag as asbestos materials.
- Wash and clean hands thoroughly with soap and water.
Read more on the NSW Government’s Asbestos in NSW website.
Dealing with chemical waste after floods
Household and industrial chemicals can be damaged or washed long distances during a flood, putting people and the environment at risk.
Personal protective equipment, particularly gloves, should be used when handling and disposing of chemicals.
Cleaning up waterways
The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) uses contractors to clean up shorelines and rivers. Aerial surveys also identify debris that needs to be cleared from affected areas.
Information for property owners and renters
If you own a property, you are more likely to be responsible for clean up and repairs. Take photos and document any damage.
If you live in a strata managed property, such as an apartment block, strata may be responsible for some of the repairs.
Learn more about who's responsible for repairs and maintenance for strata property at NSW Fair Trading.
- any significant pollution
- another incident with potentially serious environmental impacts.
Learn more about landlord and tenant rights in a flood.
Fencing washed away in a flood can create a public safety hazard.
If you’re regional landowner, call the Agricultural and Animal Services Hotline on 1800 814 647.
If you’re a primary producer and your fencing has been damaged you may be eligible for support through Special Disaster Grants. Up to $75,000 is available to successful applicants to help with the cost of repairs. Contact the NSW Rural Assistance Authority for more details on 1800 678 593.
Read more about flood support for farmers and primary producers.