Floods: After the Storm - Returning Home

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Hurricanes bring wind and water often in the shape of floodwaters that overtake homes and damage property. It's critical to remove, dry or replace wet building materials immediately.  

Below is a simple checklist to help you get started on assessing damage in your home after the flood and begin taking charge of the cleanup.  

  • Check for building stability before entry - sticking doors at the top may indicate a ceiling at risk of collapse. 
  • Take pictures of damage throughout the building and around the property. Assess stability of plaster and drywall - any bulging or swelling ceilings indicate damage that should be removed. Press upward on drywall ceilings. If nail heads appear, drywall will need to be re-nailed but can be saved. 
  • Clean and disinfect hot air, air conditioning and ventilation ducts before use to avoid spread of airborne germs and mold spores
  • Check appliance wires for missing or disintegrated wire insulation. 
  • Ground all appliances with a three-pronged plugs. 
  • Dry and oil all appliance motors. 
  • Two weeks after flood water subsides, drain wells, sanitize well and water lines and test water. 
  • Check foundation for any loose or missing blocks, bricks, stones or mortar. 
  • Empty basement water 1/3 per day to avoid structural damage to foundation by rapid pressure change. 
  • Test water before using. 
  • Remove wet drywall and insulation well above the high water mark.
  • Clean, disinfect and dry all wall cavities that came into contact with floodwater. 
  • Use fans and sunlight to dry out interior spaces. 
  • Remove all wet carpets, curtains and fabrics. Allow to air dry completely. 
  • Wash and disinfect all surfaces, including cupboard interiors, with a solution of 1/2 cup bleach to 2 gallons of water. 
  • Clean and disinfect concrete surfaces using a mixture of TSP (trisodium phosphate) and water. Mix according to manufacturer's directions and apply to entire surface. 
  • Control standing water and mosquitoes by applying a larvae control product to standing water or a film of vegetable oil to the surface. 
  • Wash down and disinfect all doors.
  • To avoid warping, dry all wood doors by removing from hinges, laying flat with wood shims between and allowing to air dry completely.
  • Remove all knobs and hardware first and disinfect. 
  • Clean and disinfect windows, sills and tracks. 
  • Remove sliding doors and windows before cleaning and disinfecting the sliders and the tracks. 
  • Remove wallpaper and coverings that came into contact with floodwaters.
  • Don't repaint or repair until drying is complete and humidity levels in the home have dropped.