Disaster Recovery Specialists Offer Steps For Handling Flooding

Enviro-Clean, Inc. , a Smithfield, R.I.-based disaster recovery specialist, has provided immediate dos and don’ts for area businesses and homeowners working to alleviate water, flood, and sewage damage until professional help is available.

Water Damage

Appropriate water damage treatment depends on the nature of the damage. Some water carries contaminants and should be considered hazardous.

The flood waters from the rivers are considered "black water" and the building materials (i.e. – drywall) must be torn out and replaced. Structural drying is necessary. Remaining structural components in contact with the flood waters must be cleaned and disinfected. Bio-hazard treatment may be needed if not thoroughly cleaned. Normal groundwater is considered "grey water" and can be dried and cleaned.

Whatever the origin, restoration prospects largely depend on the speed with which your building and personal property can be dried. Even clean water can generate mildew and other bacterial growth if neglected. Mold can start to grow within 48 to 72 hours in a heated environment. With temperatures in the 50s, it will be delayed. Structures not dried completely will most likely incur mold problems that will affect the indoor air quality.

Here is what property owners should do:

  • ventilate wet areas. Turn on air conditioning for accelerated drying in summer (if there’s no visible mold). In winter, alternate cycles of opened windows and heating.
  • remove standing water, if it is minimal, from flat surfaces by sponging and blotting.
  • take up saturated rugs and carpets when hardwood floors are at risk.
  • stay out of rooms where ceilings are sagging from retained water.
  • transport computers and musical instruments to a dry environment, remove cases, and blow dry with low pressure.
  • remove lamps, telephones and decorative items from wet furniture tops.
  • open drawers and cabinet doors for interior drying, but do not force stuck drawers or doors.
  • freeze valuable books and documents to retard mildew growth until drying can be performed.
  • place aluminum foil squares, china saucers or wood blocks under furniture legs to avoid carpet staining.

Property owners should not:

  • operate televisions, vacuums, computers or other electrical appliances while standing on wet carpet or floors, especially wet concrete floors. Serious injury may result.
  • use heat to dry closed building interiors; mildew and expanded moisture damage may result.
  • leave wet fabrics in place; space them apart and dry as soon as possible.

Sewage and Flood Damage

Raw sewage and flood waters contain bacteria and other microorganisms that are hazardous to human health. These can be transmitted by touching contaminated items or by tracking them into uncontaminated areas. Children and pets are especially vulnerable. Frequent hand washing is an important preventative measure. Absorbent materials such as carpeting and drywall may not be restorable after direct contact with sewage-contaminated or flood-contaminated water.

Property owners should:

  • treat all water impacted services and furnishings as toxic until properly decontaminated.
  • keep children and pets out of contaminated areas.

Property owners should not:

  • track contaminated material into undamaged areas.
  • attempt to decontaminate surfaces with sprays and other over-the-counter germicidal products, which may not fully disinfect contaminated surfaces.
  • In 2002, Jack Anderson and his son Eric Anderson founded Enviro-Clean, a mold remediation and consulting firm with offices in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut.


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