Fire and Water Damage: What to Do NextA fire or flood in your home can be devastating, but the actions you take in those first 24 hours afterward can make a big difference in how quickly you recover. Here's some advice from experts at the Federal Emergency Management Agency on what to do after disaster strikes:What to do after a fire or floodOnce you've made sure your family and your pets have a safe place to stay, your next step should be calling your insurance agent as soon as possible. He may ask you to start filling out forms or making a list of items lost. Ask him whom you should contact about meeting your home's immediate needs – such as pumping out water or boarding up doors and windows.Don't go back into your home unless the fire department or other emergency officials have said it's OK. If you do go back, be careful! Walls and floors may not be a sturdy as they look. Make sure the water, gas and electric services are safe to use. If they're not, make sure they've been disconnected.Try to find important documents and valuables first. If you have to leave your home, let the police know that it will be vacant, so they can keep an eye on it.What to look for in a restoration contractorUnfortunately, some unscrupulous restoration contractors have taken advantage of homeowners in the midst of a fire or flood emergency. Your insurance company should be able to give you the names of reputable contractors they've worked with in the past.Your contractor should have specific experience and training in areas such as removing soot, mold and bacteria. Check references, and get a written estimate and approval from your insurance company before you hire anyone. Save your receipts so you can submit them to your insurance company.In a time of crisis, it may be tempting to hire the first restoration contractor you see listed in the phone book. But it's worth it to find one you can trust. With a good restoration contractor, your home won't just be back to normal in no time, it'll be even better than it was before.Need More Help?If you need professional help with your project, LendingTree Home Pros can help.The good news is that LendingTree Home Pros maintains a directory of home service professionals and can match you with a home pro in your area. All the home pros listed in the LendingTree Home Pros directory are properly licensed and insured and are backed by a $10,000 money-back guarantee!Let LendingTree Home Pros help you find a pro today!