Flood damage need not be as serious as it sounds, but catastrophic outcomes occur from factors that include the source of the water, the height of the inundation, and the time duration that the flood waters remain. Flooding from internal causes such as a pipe leakage is the easiest to deal with. Flooding as a result of excessive rain or storm surge is the hardest as it brings with it silt and sewage contamination basically destroying everything it comes in contact with. So here are a few thoughts on the problem ...
As a rough guide to contamination, damage will occur:
- Within a few minutes to electrical fittings, paper and documents and absorbent furnishings
- Within a few hours to carpets, laminates, fiber board, furniture, sheetrock
- Within days to more or less everything except for the basic framing and block work
The first organization to call when flooding has subsided is a flood remediation company. They should be registered to IICRC-S500 - Standard and Reference Guild for Professional Water Damage Restoration and will have the equipment to remove free standing water quickly and dehumidify the property to prevent further damage and especially mold growth. However this only really applies to the "one off" incident, usually flooding of internal causes, such as a plumbing leak.
When serious flooding occurs as a result of natural disaster, then the remediation services will be simply swamped (no pun intended) and you will be on your own. This is not a great place to be but you will have to deal with it. If flooding is severe then the remedy is really beyond the scope of this blog. You will have to wait until emergency services give assurance that the are is safe to return and by that time official help, such as FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), will be on hand and the slow process of recovery will begin.
For relatively minor flooding then there are many things you can do yourself to help matters.
- Make sure the home is safe to return to – look for caving in/sinking or foundation cracks, check nearby trees for signs of instability.
- Switch off the power, gas and water.
- Take pictures of everything. This will not help the damage but will help your insurance claim.
- Protect your health, assume anything in contact with the flood water has also been in contact with sewage and other contaminants. DO NOT DRINK TAP WATER in an area of flood inundation.
- Remove carpeting and soft furnishings, indeed anything that can hold or trap moisture.
- Open all doors and windows.
- If you feel able to do so, allow water to drain from all cavities by making a few holes in drywall at the wall board level. Clear away any blocked drains or culverts to let surface water drain away.
- Call your insurance company. They will register the claim and advise on what to do next. Your biggest issues will be dependent on the severity of the flooding. Mitigating mold growth and securing the property would be two obvious ones.
- Go look after your family, get something to eat and stay safe. Family are the only thing that cannot be replaced even if a material loss hurts at the time.
- Have a disaster plan in place before disaster happens. There is plenty of advice available on the internet and some good low cost guides.
- Make sure you do have effective flood insurance.
- In Charleston especially, many areas are very prone to flooding. If you are considering major renovation, also consider lifting the home out of the flood risk zone. We do this with every restoration where we are allowed to, it results in cheaper insurance and great peace of mind.
If you have suffered serious flood damage, find out more about how our team at Luxury Simplified Construction can help you rebuild.
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