According to the National Weather Service, the recent historic flooding in Louisiana was a result of torrential rains that dropped three times as much water as what fell relative to Hurricane Katrina. When storms like this occur, dangerous floodwaters can lead to immediate loss of life. What’s more, the aftermath is often greater still.
In Baton Rouge, cleanup crews are moving street-by-street to pick up flood-related debris. Officials report that teams gathered 12,000 cubic yards of refuse in a single day. And this figure only reflects refuse on the street. Massive cleanup efforts are still underway, with sanitation companies repairing, cleaning and demolishing homes which were devastated by the flood.
Floodwaters destroy homes simply because most household items do not do well under water (That goes double for dog houses, which are light enough to float away in heavy floods):
- When saturated, wood floors swell. Sounds a little like how my stomach swells when I eat too many bones.
- Window casings can quickly rot and shift, breaking windows.
- Electronic components can short, posing electrical fire risk.
- Drywall absorbs water readily, and should be removed before mold grows.
- Extreme flooding within a structure can cause a home to shift, stressing the foundation.
Important Note for Property Managers and Building Owners:
Prior to a flood, make sure that important records and operating equipment are not located in underground basements or parking garages, as these are typically the first areas to flood.
Mold Removal after a Flood
Mold is a major concern for homeowners and disaster relief agencies following floods. Even if the variety of mold that grows is not toxic, the side effects of exposure can produce serious health issues – such as hives, bloody noses and migraines. So, regardless of the type of mold that grows following a flood, it’s important to seek out an experienced remediation firm. Avoid scammers who prey on flood victims, demanding payment in full, upfront, for mold remediation that will never be provided. Mold removal requires special chemicals, breathing masks and equipment; so leave the job to professionals. And if you do run into someone who is trying to scam you after a disaster, I would love to give them a peace of my mind!
Steps a pro will take to prevent and remove mold growth following a flood:
- Replace carpeting, drapes, and pads that were exposed to water. Mold spores can remain in carpets even after thorough drying.
- Remove drywall to properly sanitize walls.
- Discard affected materials to remove mold spores.
- Open windows and utilize masks rated N-95 or higher to prevent respiratory illness.
- Wash affected areas with special detergent.
- Use ammonia to kill mold spores. Be careful not to mix bleach and ammonia-containing cleaners.
- Dry the entire home using dehumidifiers, heat-producing devices, and high-speed fans. I could use one of those fans after I take a bath.
- Inspect areas in walls and behind wall coverings.
- Use infrared cameras to detect and target moisture.
In some cases, where moisture penetration is pronounced, insurance providers could deem the dwelling a total loss. Talk to a mold remediation specialist, or a facility services company such as Universal Building Maintenance, which is part of Allied Universal, and your insurance provider about the severity of conditions affecting your home.
Remember that safety is a daily priority. Flooding is not only extremely dangerous while it is occurring, but could also lead to a long and potentially toxic cleanup process. Homeowners and business owners should understand the flooding risk inherent in their buildings, review flood insurance coverage to make sure it is sufficient, and plan to quickly remediate flood damage in the event it occurs. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.