Flood Damage and Mold

Home flooding is a serious problem for many Americans. If your home has ever flooded then you know how time consuming and costly the repairs can be, and the risk of mold forming due to moisture being trapped in walls, basements and other areas of the home. If your home has been affected by flood damages from a hurricane, high water, or poor basement waterproofing, don’t hesitate to contact a professional.

Like many you may be asking yourself, What do I do after the water recedes?

First, go to your property and do a self assessment of damages, starting on the outside. If there is clear structural damage that you can see from the exterior of your home, do not enter. If there is no visible structural damage to the exterior of the home and you feel it is safe to enter, do so. Begin looking for things like buckled floor boards, water stained walls or ceilings, and standing water in the basement or crawlspaces. If there is still standing water in any part of the home do not attempt to use power tools, appliances, or turn electricity on or off to parts of the home, as you could be electrocuted or start a fire.

Once you have assessed the overall damages of the home it’s best to call your home owners and flood insurance companies and let them know of the damages, and the possibility of mold forming. Mold can be dangerous to your health both mental and psychical, exposure to mold can cause many aliments such as: sore throat, respiratory and allergy problems, as well as many others.

Once you have contacted your home owners and flood insurance companies you can start clearing out damaged items. Remove all easily moveable wet and damaged items including: cloths, carpets, furniture, boxes, beds, food, toys, linens, etc… These are all perfect spots for mold to form. Once you have removed the damaged items, and know it is safe to use electricity, place fans throughout the flood damaged home to let air circulate throughout the house. If you have any dehumidifiers this is the perfect time to use them, as they will pull any moisture that is forming out of the house, which will slow the formation of mold.

Once the house is cleared out and mostly dry it’s time to call a professional flood damage and mold removal company. Clearing out the home allows for a professional to properly asses all damages and possibilities of mold.

What the CDC says about Flood Damage

Reentering Your Flooded Home

When returning to a home that’s been flooded after natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods, be aware that your house may be contaminated with mold or sewage, which can cause health risks for your family.

When You First Reenter Your Home

  • If you have standing water in your home and can turn off the main power from a dry location, then go ahead and turn off the power, even if it delays cleaning. If you must enter standing water to access the main power switch, then call an electrician to turn it off. NEVER turn power on or off yourself or use an electric tool or appliance while standing in water.
  • Have an electrician check the house’s electrical system before turning the power on again.
  • If the house has been closed up for several days, enter briefly to open doors and windows to let the house air out for awhile (at least 30 minutes) before you stay for any length of time.
  • If your home has been flooded and has been closed up for several days, presume your home has been contaminated with mold. (See Protect Yourself from Mold.)
  • If your home has been flooded, it also may be contaminated with sewage. (See After a Hurricane or Flood: Cleanup of Flood Water.)

Read More about what the CDC says about Flood Damage.

Flooding Due to Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy Evacuees In Flooded New Jersey Towns Describe Fast-Rising Water

MOONACHIE, N.J. –- The first signs of trouble were the car alarms: Dozens of them, all going off at once, just after midnight at Hurricane Sandy’s peak.

Then it was the smell of gasoline.

Jeanette Capers peered out her window to see floodwaters engulfing cars parked on the streets, causing oil and gas to seep out. Neighbors were screaming, some trying frantically to move cars to higher ground in advance of the cascade of fast-rising water.

Derek Ciaschi ran shirtless into the waters and successfully moved his vehicle up the hill. But by that time, the water was chest-high, and the current was too strong for him to return home.

“Nobody saw it coming,” Ciaschi said.

Read More about the Flooding from Hurricane Sandy.

Why is mold a health concern?

Indoor mold can trigger allergies or allergy-like symptoms affecting the upper respiratory system. Although other, more serious problems may occur if people are exposed to very high levels of mold, the most common complaints are:

  • nasal and sinus congestion
  • cough
  • wheeze/breathing difficulties
  • sore throat
  • skin and eye irritation
  • upper respiratory infections (including sinus infections)

The effect of mold on different people can vary widely. However, long-term exposure to high levels from indoor mold growth can eventually be unhealthy for anyone. The following groups of people may be at greater risk than others:

  • infants, children and the elderly
  • individuals with respiratory conditions or sensitivities such as severe indoor allergies and asthma
  • persons with weakened immune systems (for example, people with HIV infection, chemotherapy patients, organ transplant recipients)

MDH recommends that you consult a medical professional if you feel your health is being affected by a moldy environment.

In addition to health complaints, mold damages building materials, goods, or furnishings when it grows on them. Mold growth and moisture may eventually compromise the building’s structural integrity. Because of potential health concerns and damage to property, molds should not be allowed to grow and multiply indoors.

Read More on the risks of mold from the Minnesota Department of Health.