Hindsight is 20/20: Organization for Floods and Water Damage


I am writing this 2 weeks after the flooding that occurred in NYC on September 1, 2021.

A client contacted me the day after the flood to inform me that the way I organized her basement minimized her damage and I should show other people how to do the same. I felt proud of my work even more after that message, but heart broken by all the people that lost everything. Although the following tips may not save everything, I want to help you minimize the damage. So here are ways to organize basements, attics, garages, and other places in your home prone to water damage. Apartment dwellers: there are tips for you too!


Organizing the Basement, Garage, & Attic

The basement tends to be the place where extra items go: food, seasonal items, sports equipment, luggage, inherited items, keepsake items, overflow from a space or room in the home, etc. The #1 action to take is go through everything... yes I mean DECLUTTER. People forget what they have in bins and boxes down there, so go through it. Make sure you CATEGORIZE by person, by item, by season, by sport, etc. LABEL each box and bin from the inside. SPACE PLAN where they're going to be located. Items you need the most (food and household items) are to be placed nearest to entry, and items you don't use or use the least can go to the farthest corner. INVEST in an organizing solution that will keep your items safely off the floor, which also helps with cleaning... just sayin'. Below are examples of shelving systems that will work for any space.


Here are organization systems to invest in & help minimize flood damage.



Here are 3 shelving units I prefer:

  1. Gladiator 4-tier Welded Steel Shelving Unit at Home Depot $250

  2. Husky red 4-tier Heavy Duty Steel Shelving Unit at Home Depot $230

  3. Intermetro 4-Shelf Starter Unit at The Container Store $130








The Iris Weathertight Totes are my preferred storage bins, but there are other brands available. Just make sure they say weathertight. Prices range with size of totes. Remember when storing, bigger is not always better and make sure you go from top to bottom, lightest to heaviest - it will save your back!



The Smart Store Adhesive Labels from The Container Store are my favorite since I can adhere them on the inside or outside of a bin, then slide in the card. If items in the bins change, I just flip the card, write the new category, and slide back in.



Apartment Dwellers

Now we apartment dwellers do not have a basement (unless we live in a basement apartment), but a busted pipe, a leak from the neighbors upstairs, rain coming in from the window... I mean I can go on! My first advice is get RENTER'S INSURANCE. Shop around for quotes and choose the best option in coverage, not cost. I like to have coverage for anything that happened regardless of why or how it happened, but you choose what's best for you and your belongings. REGULARLY CHECK UP on all the areas where there is water or pipes. Make sure pipes do not look corroded. If they are let your landlord know so they can change it before the pipe busts. Notice any places that seem wet or humid and inform your landlord there is a possible leak. TAKE PHOTOS OR VIDEO whenever there is a water damage (or any damage) of any kind. You will need it for the renter's insurance and to show your landlord. REGULARLY CLEAN OUT & DECLUTTER under sinks in bathroom and kitchen. Minimize the amount of items you store there. Do you really need to have 4 different kitchen cleaners? If you don't like a cleaner after you used it, either give it to someone else to use or pitch it. Read directions on cleaner for how to dispose. PLACE LINERS on the bottom of under sinks. It protects the base if there are leaks, they're easily replaceable, and it reduces any damage from chemicals or anything else you place on your under sink base. ORGANIZE your under sinks with drawers and totes. This will make it easier to find what you need, but also to remove when cleaning or using.




Contact me here to help you with your organization project.

Organized by Catherine O organizes all areas of your home, maximizes your space, and problem-solves time management and productivity challenges. We are based in New York City and serve the NYC-Metro area.


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