Water from severe thunderstorms can cause unexpected damage to your home and property. Recently, portions of Western PA experienced heavy rainfall, resulting in water damage and flooded roads. In the aftermath of a storm, many consumers are likely to experience flooded basements, leaky roofs, debris and even mold related issues.“Your Better Business Bureau is reminding people and businesses to proceed with caution when initiating repairs and to carefully research options before hiring unfamiliar contractors,” says Warren King, president of the Better Business Bureau of Western PA. “Unfortunately, with any natural disaster, unscrupulous people will look to take advantage of those who have been impacted and are in need of help.”BBB advises people dealing with water or flood damage to:Contact your insurance company and inquire about policy coverage and specific filing requirements to initiate the claim process. If your home, business and/or vehicle was damaged, document the damage by taking pictures or videos if possible.Recognize the difference between flood insurance and homeowners insurance. Flood damage is typically caused by water that has been on the ground before damaging your home. Water damage occurs when water causes damage before it comes in contact with the ground (broken pipes, a leaky roof, etc). These claims would likely be covered by homeowners insurance.Do what you can to mitigate further damage. Dry out and disinfect impacted areas as soon as possible to help prevent mold. If you have concerns about wet carpet or rugs, start running fans and dehumidifiers. Consult an expert to see if carpet, rugs and furnishings can be salvaged. Always do your research. Check with BBB at bbb.org to view BBB Business Profiles and find BBB accredited restoration contractors you can trust. Ask for a list of references and confirm the contractor is properly insured and registered with the PA Attorney General’s Office.Be wary of contractors going door-to-door, especially if they use scare tactics. Obtain a contract that specifies the work to be done, the price breakdown for labor and materials and an agreed upon timeline. Never feel pressured into signing on the spot and always seek at least three estimates prior to making a commitment. Avoid paying with cash for the entire job up front. BBB has more tips to protect yourself from storm chasers after severe weather.For more helpful advice on dealing with storm damage and initiating repairs, visit the BBB Natural Disaster Resource Center at bbb.org. Report home improvement scams to BBB Scam Tracker or call your BBB at 877.267.5222 for further assistance.