Cleaning up after a flood

If you’re located along the eastern seaboard, we hope you and your loved ones weather the effects of Hurricane Irene safely. (If you’re in some other part of the country, read this info for future reference.) If your home or basement suffer any flooding, here are a few tips for after this storm – or any storm that brings too much water.

  1. Assess. Before you do anything, make sure your home is safe to enter. If you’re not sure, check with your local officials. Never enter a basement area with standing water if power is still connected to your home. If the water has receded, it’s still a good idea to ensure the power is off before you start poking around that first time. If you do not have power, a portable generator can help with power tools, shop vacs, etc.
  2. Remove. Drag out everything that got wet. If your furnace, hot water heater or gas valves were under water, they will need to be replaced. Pull out carpet and padding. Furniture, books, everything needs to come out. Open windows and use big fans to circulate air and speed up drying. Only after everything is truly dry can the cleanup begin.
  3. Clean. Your main enemy is mold. Use your favorite basic cleaner to wash down all affected areas. Let everything dry completely, again. You may want to apply a mold inhibitor to walls and floors. Odor control is another priority. Use odor neutralizers including sprays, gels and crystals – whatever you can find.

The key to all this is to take your time – go slowly so that everything is dry. Unfortunately, damaged drywall and damaged belongings will have to be replaced. But if you go slowly and get things dry, you’ll be able to re-inhabit the affect areas eventually. Your homeowner’s insurance provider can give you additional tips and advice, as well as connect you with local service providers who can help with the clean-up.

Good luck!

Here are some more helpful references:

The Flood Safety Education Project

Flood Cleanup Info from the Environmental Protection Agency

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