Watching South Texas rescued by the Cajun Navy was emotional, but knowing the danger that awaits returning refugees after Hurricane Harvey might be even scarier. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), exposure to damp and moldy environments may cause a variety of health effects. For sensitive people, molds can cause nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, coughing or wheezing, eye irritation, or in some cases, skin irritation. People with mold allergies may have more severe reactions. Immune-compromised people and people with chronic lung illnesses, such as obstructive lung disease, may get serious infections in their lungs when they are exposed to mold.
As the waters recede in Texas and Louisiana, here are some lessons learned:
Ensure your physical safety – everything else can be replaced – you can’t. This is a marathon now, not a sprint. What you do in the first few hours can really help in the long run.
Order a POD or storage container NOW- they will sell out fast. So will rental trailers and those handy Bagsters (temporary dumpsters.) Have an out of towner (with the internet) start securing your resources. Plastic storage tubs work better than cardboard boxes for storage of your undamaged stuff- again have someone jump on Amazon Prime and drop ship so you can stay home and work.
As soon as the water recedes, start mitigating the damage. Shop vac out what water you can, remove the wet carpets, remove the baseboards and start removing wet sheetrock. Cut a line about 2 feet up the wall. The straighter you cut, the easier the rebuild will be. Bag debris, insulation, etc. and take it outside. Save a square of ruined carpet and ruined carpet pad for the insurance to verify replacement value – if you have multiple carpets, save multiple samples.
Take pictures – lots of pictures. Establish how high the water was inside and outside of your house. You need to prove how deep the water was as part of your flood claim. Use a yardstick or ruler on the outside of your house to establish the high-water mark. Use that smart phone and walk through every room, closet and storage space. For contents, document individual items – each shirt, book, etc. needs to be enumerated and documented for the claim – if you say 20 books on your claim, you need a photograph where 20 books can be individually accounted for – be exact and over detailed.
Maximize your dry areas- utilize the driveway and patio well. If more rain is coming, don’t put flood debris where it can float away, block a drain and cause more trouble.
Accept help when offered and be specific – when you hear “what can I do?” tell them something specific; “I need candles, contractor bags, sandwiches.” Reach out and be honest with what you need. Keep a running list of small, medium and large tasks that you can outsource. People want to help and don’t know how- make it simple for them. Ask them to email details, you can’t keep track of phone numbers and websites now.
Be careful hiring contractors – ask for multiple references, ensure they use sub-contractors they know. Be prepared to wait for great professionals. While you might not have suffered a complete loss from 52 inches of rain, all mold removal should be handled with care. Mold grows well on paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles, and wood products. Mold can also grow in dust, paints, wallpaper, insulation, drywall, carpet, fabric, and upholstery.
The professionals at Hitchcock Clean and Restore know how to safely and successfully remove mold from your home or office so it doesn’t get airborne and spread to other areas of your property. Hitchcock Clean and Restore is Berks County’s top choice for safe, courteous and efficient help in emergencies. Contact them at 484-575-4101 or teamhitchcock.com for flood damage remediation.
“In both my duct cleaning and my carpet cleaning the technicians were very professional. They explained what they were doing and why. They cleaned up after themselves. Thank you for being a reputable company.”
“I am a repeat customer. I do not even look for anyone else. I always call Hitchcock’s based on the jobs you have done for me in the past. I am always satisfied with your work.”
“I was thrilled with everything. Every day I notice something is cleaner. The ceramic tile came out four shades lighter then when I clean it. My biggest surprise was that they even polished my tea kettle that has been on my stove for 50 years and it looks like new.”
“I would like to thank The Hitchcock Clean and Restore and especially Mike and his assistant for the wonderful job they did on my carpet and kitchen flooring. Their cleaning really brightened my home and it felt good to see such a difference. Thanks again for a job well done and I will recommend your company to all my neighbors and friends.”