Monday, June 27, 2011
08:56 PM

Cleaning up after flood takes special care

MU Extension has free cleanup guide

Source: Frank Wideman, 573-547-4504

PERRYVILLE, Mo. - Families returning to their flooded homes should exercise caution before and during the cleanup process, according to a University of Missouri Extension emergency management expert.

“In the rush to get their world back to normal many home owners need to really to take care and do it correctly for the long term health of the home and the family that lives in the home,” said Frank Wideman, community emergency management specialist.  “The mud and wet materials need to be removed as soon as they can get back into their home.  That includes wet wall board, paneling and insulation. But if you want to avoid long term problems with mold, mildew and dry rot, the building materials need to be dried out before they are covered with new finishes.  That means using a moisture meter to make sure the materials are dried to 13% moisture before drywall and other coverings are reinstalled.  There are spray materials that can kill the mold that is present.  But nothing will keep the mold from returning to the wet materials.”

“There are several dangers that people need to keep in mind when dealing with any structure that has been flooded,” Wideman said. “Before you even enter the building, make sure it looks structurally sound.

“Next, make sure that the electricity is off to avoid the risk of electrocution, and that the gas has been shut off,” Wideman said.

Because flood waters contain contaminants and debris, people need to take health precautions, he said.

“Be sure you¹re up to date on your tetanus shot,” he said. Individuals can contact their local health department for more information.

People also should wear sturdy shoes or boots and gloves when handling flood-contaminated materials. “Wash your hands and face, or use a hand sanitizer often,” he said.

Cleaning up after a flood requires special procedures to decontaminate damaged items. MU Extension has a step-by-step guide to cleaning flood-damaged homes. The publication, which is free of charge, covers electrical systems, repairing walls, cleaning furniture, flooring and floor coverings, bedding, kitchen items and controlling mold and mildew.

The guide also includes financial advice, including filing insurance claims, avoiding fraud and hiring a contractor.

In addition, there is advice on coping with stress brought on by flooding.

Copies of “Resources for Your Flooded Home” are available at MU Extension offices, disaster recovery centers and online at http://www.extension.missouri.edu.

University Outreach and Extension David Reinbott, reinbottd@missouri.edu
Agriculture Business Specialist
Last modified: June 27, 2011