We are all aware of the dangers floodwaters, high-winds and saltwater can do to your home or business; from the furniture to the building’s structure itself. What most people forget is that as the water recedes and moves out of the area, an unwanted roommate moves in…MOLD.
Mold spores begin to bloom 24 to 48 hours after contact with humidity, water, warmth, and darkness, all of which are present after a hurricane. The presence of air conditioning is the last line of defense against mold and when the power is out mold can move in in less than a day. You’ll see mold in the form of small, fuzzy, green spores clinging to furniture, black streaks of toxic mold lining the corners of cabinets and several-inch-thick masses of mold covering debris in the road. It may look intriguing…but it can kill you.
Hurricanes can be huge producers of mold as the storm moves through its path and leaves thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of homes at risk. A hurricane with the path the size of Hurricane Matthew impacts more than 120,000 homes and the reconstruction costs could jump over $40 billion. Hurricanes with the size and damage of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy left tens of thousands of homes so damaged from water and mold that repairs could not even be performed and re-construction was the only option left.
Act Quickly to Prevent Mold After a Hurricane
Mold can be especially dangerous for people with breathing problems caused by allergies or asthma. But high levels of mold (especially after a hurricane or disaster) can also cause problems for people who are relatively healthy. Symptoms of mold exposure can include: shortness of breath, sore throat, flu-like symptoms, and fatigue. Mold isn’t the only invader after flooding. Bacteria may also be a problem if your home was flooded by sewage from your property or elsewhere. Bacteria can cause dangerous gastrointestinal and skin infections.
Who Should Clean Up After a Hurricane?
The first thing to do after hurricane flooding is to pump out or soak up any standing water. As a warning; if you have several feet of water where fuse boxes and other electrical circuits are submerged, please call emergency workers to clear the space before you get to work. Water restoration companies have heavy equipment that’s needed to dry out spaces quickly. Using industrial-sized fans and de-humidifiers. You will also need a professional if your home was flooded with sewage. Sewage is hazardous and best handled by someone who’s trained and certified.
What Do To After Mold Starts Growing
If the power has been off for a a few days or even 24 hours, you must act quickly to contain the growth. The Center For Disease Control and the Environmental Protection Agency recommend bringing in a trained mold remediation professional to clean up mold that covers more than a 10-foot-by-10-foot area. Some states require contractors that clean up mold to be licensed (this includes Florida). At the minimum, anyone you hire should have experience getting rid of mold such as Disaster One, references you can call, and liability insurance.
If you’re cleaning a smaller area on your own, you can clean mold off most surfaces with a mixture of hot water and detergent. The EPA doesn’t recommend using chlorine bleach or other biocides to clean up mold unless there are special circumstances. One such circumstance is if you have someone living in the home who has a weakened immune function. You may have researched that you can use bleach to clean up mold. If you go this route, the CDC recommends mixing a solution of no more than one cup of bleach for every gallon of water. (Do not to mix it with ammonia or cleaners that contain ammonia)
What Can Be Saved & What Should Be Thrown Away After A Hurricane?
- Upholstered furniture
- Papers and books
- Carpet, carpet padding, and rugs
- Computers, microwaves, window air conditioning units (any appliances that have fans)
- Food, including canned foods if they were in contact with flood waters
Save These Items
- Art, blankets, coats, or clothing that have no visible damage
- Hard and sealed items like jewelry, dishes, glass, porcelain, and metal
- Wood furniture, even if it’s moldy, as long as it’s in good condition
- Some electronics and small appliances without fans
- Photographs, books, and valuable legal documents with only small levels of mold
Residential & Commercial Mold Removal From Disaster One
When your building suffers water damage or was hit by a hurricane, mold damage can quickly grow and become a problem. Whether you need commercial or residential mold remediation for a home, business, hospital, school or any other type of building, Disaster One’s certified staff of Mold Remediators, Supervisors, Specialists, and Consultants can assist you in the mold remediation process. Locations in Greensboro, Raleigh, Fayetteville, Wilmington, Charlotte, NC Roanoke, VA, Tampa, FL, and Atlanta, GA. For more information, visit the following sources: