How to cleanup after a flood
When a disaster occurs, it's hard to know where to start. Many times after a major flood damage, your first thought may be to start cleaning things up.
It's important to "first", find out your options. There may be insurance coverage or flood cleanup help that is available to you. And sometimes it can take time. And whether you hire a flood cleanup company or not, they can be a great resource for help.
Initial Safety Inspection
Your first priority is your safety. It's a very normal reaction to want to start cleaning up. For a flood damage, many times homes or structures may contain sewage damage.
During a flood water levels rise. They overwhelm the local sewers. The raw sewage contaminates the water, which then contaminates the homes and structures that it floods.
If you don't know how to assess the safety of your home, your local flood cleanup company can help.
Flood Cleanup Insurance
In some parts of the US, there are high-risk flood areas that already need flood insurance. Find out from your insurance provider if you have any coverage for your property for a flood.
One thing to note if you in-fact do have flood insurance coverage is to find out what the flood insurance covers. Many time it is not all-inclusive. Meaning, you may only receive help for part of what needs to be repaired on your property.
It's important to know this if you decide to hire a flood cleanup company. You don't want to be stuck with a bill for more than what your insurance will cover you for.
Removing Contents to Discard or Salvage
As mold can grow within 24 hours, it’s important to work quickly when removing your belongings. It’s also important to note that long term flooding will likely ruin most contents. Rescue your most valuable items, but never at the expense of your own safety.
- Remove all furniture and contents to allow for cleanup of the structure. Solid wood and metal furniture may be salvageable.
- Saturated mattresses and furniture should be discarded.
- Carpet, padding and drywall should always be replaced as well as rugs.
- Most food products should be discarded. Sealed and canned goods may be cleaned and salvaged.
- Photos and important papers can be frozen within plastic bags in a frost-free freezer until there is time to thaw and clean them, perhaps by a professional.
- Flooded appliances will need to be inspected by a professional before use.
- Any material that is discarded should be kept for your insurance adjuster to inspect.
Cleaning and Drying
Remove any mud and silt with a shovel. A garden hose can be used to wash hard surfaces.
Once the structure is completely cleaned, dying fans and dehumidifiers can be used to correctly speed up and dry out the structure.
Appliances that have direct exposure to sunlight may cause irreversible damage if left out too long. You can also increase the airflow with the use of drying fans which you can rent at your local hardware store. Air-dry is best for your personal belongings.
Gently clean fragile objects so as not to damage them. Use soft brushes and cloths and avoid rubbing which can cause scratches and damage.
Focus on your most important belongings as you may not be able to salvage everything.
During a major disaster, your local flood cleanup companies will find themselves overwhelmed. As a result out-of-state flood cleanup companies may come in for support and help.
It is important to hire a good flood cleanup company. But how do you know a good company from a bad one? Here are the most common complaints our disaster team hears when we travel to a flood:
- "The company I hired had a few guys come out to start the cleanup. But now, I can't get them to come back. They keep telling me tomorrow."
- "I stayed home from work and the company I hired no-showed. I've called multiple times. I've already paid half down."
- "I paid for a flood cleanup on my property but now there is a smell and I can't get the company that did the cleanup to come back".
We hear these types of complaints quite often during a major disaster. At SERVPRO of Kailua we have a dedicated Storm Disaster Team. We get called in to assist our local Franchisees when they get overwhelmed after a major flood.
We resolve issues like this by doing the following:
- To speed up the process we assign one full crew at a time to a structure. This also helps us schedule the next property on-time as we know exactly when we'll be done. Many times flood cleanup companies will bounce their labor crews back and forth. This only delays the completion of the project.
- We always call in advance if there is ever a change to the schedule so you're not left waiting for someone that was never planning on showing up.
- We are a preferred vendor for most insurance carriers nationwide. To maintain a "preferred" status we follow industry standards, local laws and city ordinances to a "T".
What's good about hiring a flood cleanup company at SERVPRO is one, we are all locally owned and operated. And two, we are all part of a National Franchise which can offer support if there is ever an issue for work that's been performed to your home or structure.
For questions or to schedule a no-charge inspection, call us 24/7 at 808-235-5015 and one of our experience coordinators can further assist you.