Watching helplessly as your home is damaged or destroyed by floodwater is a nightmare come to life for far too many Americans.

Financial losses can add up quickly, so don't waste any time calling your insurance company. I really hope you did not wait for the water to come to think about flood insurance. Whether you have it or not, still call your insurance rep and find out what's actually covered. Receiving reimbursements and rebuilding could take weeks, months or even years... but get that process started right away.

Next, call your mortgage and auto lender. If this is a prolonged and drawn-out ordeal, many companies will waive late fees and they may even defer payments for a period of time.

Get your hands on some cash. After major storms, the power could be out for days if not weeks, so using plastic might not be an option. Banks will often set up mobile branches for this very reason.

The best thing you can do is prepare before the flood ever comes. Review your policy now, if you don't have flood insurance speak to your rep now and think about your plan for getting your family to safety and your valuables protected before it's too late.

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Editors' Pick: Originally published on October 6, 2017.