Severe weather and natural disasters have become all too common in recent years. While major events like hurricanes and strong tropical storms might capture the headlines, the truth is even something as seemingly simple as seasonal flooding from snowmelt or spring rains can also cause major water damage to homes, businesses, and commercial properties.
While there are certain things you can do to help prevent flood damage to your property, it’s nearly impossible to be 100% prepared for when a natural disaster strikes. It’s also an unfortunate reality that even the smallest amount of flood damage can require a lot of cleanups, which can be stressful in and of itself.
It can be especially stressful if the living space of your home has been damaged by floodwaters. Though even commercial properties with flood liability concerns and businesses that lose time and money to flood damage can also feel severely stressed in the process to return things back to some semblance of normal.
In times like this, it helps to have a checklist to both help keep you organized, while also serving as a basic guide during the flood cleanup process.
Flood & Water Disaster Cleanup Checklist
The following checklist covers some of the most important and common elements of cleaning up after a flood or a water damage event. Though these are not the only things that matter and certain liability or reporting issues might be needed for business, commercial properties, and residences that have specific flood damage insurance coverage.
Turn Off The Power
It’s no secret that water and electricity don’t mix. If possible try to access the main breaker panel to disconnect the property from the main electrical grid. If you can’t safely access the breaker panel, you should try calling your power company to see if they can help. This is an important first step in securing site safety.
Contact Municipal Utility Company Or The City Wastewater
A lot of flooding problems also inundate the local sewer system. Even if you don’t initially notice a sewage backup into your home, business, or commercial property, chances are good that your site is at risk for a sewage backup. If possible, contact city services or your municipal service provider to let them know about the flooding and to see if there is anything they can do to prevent the main sewer lines from backing up and making turning the flooding problem into a major disaster.
Document Everything For Insurance
Make sure to carefully document any and all damage. If possible, try to use multiple forms of documentation. This includes things like written documentation as well as taking pictures on your smartphone. If possible try to get a witness statement, in case there is a later legal concern about your claim.
Choose A Water Damage Remediation Company
The longer water lingers in your property the more extensive the damage will be. This is especially concerning when it comes to the potential presence of mold in your home, business, or commercial property. Finding water damage and flood remediation company that can act fast to extract the water and start the remediation process is essential. Make sure they are licensed and insured. If possible double-check your coverage with your home or business insurance provider. Many times the restoration company’s documentation will be required as part of filing a claim.
Removal Of Valuables & Damaged Items
Valuable items that can be salvaged should be salvaged as soon as possible to prevent further water damage. This is especially true of electronics and other high-value equipment. Just make sure that the property is truly safe to reenter. If there are safety concerns, you might be better off leaving item removal and disposal to the remediation company you choose.
Water needs to be removed from the home, business, office, or commercial property as soon as possible. Sometimes a basic residential sump pump or shop vac can be used to remove pooling water from key areas. Just make sure that it is being diverted well away from the building to a holding pond or other safe water extraction site. You should never divert potentially contaminated water into natural waterways, lakes, streams, rivers, or estuaries. Most of the best water damage remediation companies have commercial-grade water extraction equipment to handle even the most severe cases of flooding.
Even once the bulk of the water has been removed from your home, commercial property, or place of business, chances are good that there will still be more than a fair amount of moisture saturating the area. Especially in furniture, woodwork, carpeting, and flooring underlayment. While dehumidifiers and fans will help, the process might take a long time. Thankfully a lot of professional water damage remediation specialists have commercial grade drying equipment as well as access to professional-grade fast-acting desiccants that can extract moisture from the air and key surfaces.
If there has been any concern about a microbial invasion from a ruptured sewer line or a mold infestation, then you need to make disinfection a top priority. This includes surface disinfecting as well as the removal of any contaminated soft materials that may have absorbed bacteria or other harmful microbes. Many professional water remediation specialists can handle this for you and make sure that any contaminated materials are properly removed from the flooded site as well as disposed of per all pertinent local, state, or federal environmental regulations.
When water first invades your home, business, or commercial property, mold might be the furthest thing from your mind. Though it’s a well-known fact that even a small amount of moisture or humidity can saturate soft surfaces making them prime breeding grounds for mold spores to establish a dangerous mold colony. Rapid water removal, drying, and extracting compromised materials will go a long way toward preventing mold from establishing a foothold. Though you should still be suspicious of any signs of mold for months after the flood event. If you do find evidence of a mold problem, you should have it professionally remediated as soon as possible to prevent health and liability issues.
What Are Signs Of A Mold Problem After A Flood?
Flooded homes and buildings are always at high risk for developing mold problems weeks, months, or even years in the future. Signs of a potential mold problem include:
Discolored Spots – Black, brown, green, gray, and white splotches, patches, or circles on porous surfaces often indicate the presence of an active mold colony.
A Lingering Musty or Earthy Odors
Earthy or musty odors are often a sign of a mold colony that is releasing a significant amount of spores into the air.
Increased Respiratory Health Problems
People with respiratory health conditions like asthma and allergies tend to be more sensitive to the presence of airborne mold spores as well as dangerous mycotoxins. Symptoms could include things like headaches, sneezing, wheezing and frequent asthma attacks. You should be especially concerned if you go on vacation and the symptoms stop, then come back shortly after returning home.