Unfortunately, due to climate change, what was once considered a “100 year flood”, now seems to be an annual event. Daily rainfall totals of 12 inches, storm surges measured in feet and sea level rise are all contributing to increased water damage in the home.
In the “best” case scenario, flooding may only be a few inches in the basement, from a burst water pipe or a failed basement sump pump. In other cases, the flooding may be measured in feet, as in the coastal storm surge from hurricanes. Regardless of the cause, the homeowner is faced with the post-flood clean-up, which may pose health risks.
Flooding, even in small amounts, can create health hazards for you and your family entering the home. The building may no longer maintain structural integrity or there could be danger of electrocution. Finally, water in the home may spur the growth of mold or other substances which impair breathing. It may be worth the expense to engage a neighborhood professional to assess the danger of structural, electrical, or other hazards.
One of your first calls post-flood should be to your insurance agent. Take pictures of the home and any affected belongings. An important first step is to dry your home and remove water-damaged items to prevent growth of mold.
If you were not able to dry your home, including furniture and other items within 24 – 48 hours, assume the growth of mold. Mold may grow in clothing, behind drywall, on or under furniture, cardboard boxes, or books. Mold may also be hidden from view under or behind carpeting, furniture cushions, or walls.
Mold growing in the home can lead to asthma attacks, eye and skin irritation, and allergic reactions and can lead to severe infections in people with weakened immune systems. Prior to reoccupying your home, cleanup and remove all mold.
Standard homeowners insurance policies typically exclude damage caused by mold, fungi and bacteria, unless it results from a specific risk incident, such as a burst pipe.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) along with a coalition of federal agencies created a guide for homeowner and renters responding to flooding and mold.
Download the Homeowner’s and Renter’s Guide to Mold Cleanup After Disasters, for detailed instruction on post-flood clean-up.
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