Post-Hurricane Cleanup Guide
Flooding and water damage from storms and hurricanes can be devastating. Knowing what to do in the event that you’ve experienced an indoor water intrusion is critical in preventing and stopping mold growth. Additionally, there are several things to know about rebuilding, which you may not be aware of. Whatever phase of the post-storm cleanup you are in, these tips can help you get your life back to normal.
Get a Plan Together
Don’t rush repairs after water damage occurs. Improper demolition or renovation may not only cost you thousands more in unnecessary repairs, it can also send a host of toxins into parts of your home that were not affected, including mold spores, lead dust, and asbestos. The first step is to get an independent environmental inspection from a company like RTK Environmental Group. The independent inspection can protect your financial interests by pinpointing exactly what needs to be removed, what’s salvageable, and which environmental hazards are present.
Why is “independent” important?Have damage, but haven’t done anything yet? Here’s what you need to do first.
- Inspect the damage. Be sure to take video and photos of everything for insurance purposes.
- If more than 24 – 48 hours has passed, contact an independent inspection company like RTK Environmental to do a mold assessment, as mold has likely grown during that time.
- Contact FEMA and your insurance company to find out what benefits and help may be available to you.
- Call 800.392.6468 and have RTK pinpoint the extent of the repairs needed, and identify any health hazards like mold, lead, asbestos, and bacteria from sewage.
- Check for roof and window damage, which may have caused leaks and mold.
Decide Whether to Hire a Remediation Firm or Do the Work Yourself
Whether you choose to do the work yourself or hire a contractor will depend on the size and scope of the damage, and the potential environmental hazards involved. Once you have the results of independent mold, lead, and/or asbestos testing, you will have a good idea as to whether you can handle it or not. Remember: Beware of any contractor who both tests for environmental hazards and performs the repairs. It’s a conflict of interest, and they stand to make money remediating any “problems” they find.
If you decide to do the work yourself, here’s what to know first:
- If the area is more than a 3’x3’ area, the EPA does not recommend you remove the mold yourself. Anything larger should be handled by a professional.
- Please be aware that contaminants, from sewage to bacteria, reside in floodwater. These are serious health hazards, and can cause severe illness.
- Know that if your house was built before 1980, it may contain asbestos and lead, which when disturbed are serious, even deadly, health hazards. Be sure to test for lead and asbestos before doing any demolition that may cause the fibers and dust to become airborne so you know how to prepare.
- Have an RTK certified microbial investigator test the area after you’ve completed the work to ensure that you haven’t missed anything during the repair process.
- Keep the RTK inspection report in a safe place so you have proof of proper repair should you decide to sell your home.
- Call RTK Environmental Group at 800.392.6486 if you have any questions. We’re happy to help.
Following any removal and remediation, here are some things to consider:
Test Before and After You Rebuild
If you rebuild before the area is completely dried out, you will be sealing mold into your walls. The mold will grow back and cause major damage. This happened quite often during Sandy, and RTK saw hundreds of mold regrowth cases over the next several years. Walls that were rebuilt had to be taken down, mold remediation was performed again, and homes were rebuilt a second time. And, it has been determined that potentially thousands of demolition projects occurred without proper testing for asbestos or lead paint.
Test your home for mold before you rebuild to make sure you know where the problem is. Test your home after you rebuild to be sure the job was done correctly, the mold was cleaned up properly, and there are no remaining lead or asbestos hazards present.
Protect Yourself with Proper Documentation
An independent environmental testing company will provide you with a detailed report, documenting that your home is safe or is cleared to be rebuilt and has a safe environmental toxin level (mold, lead, asbestos, radon, bacteria, and other toxins). This documentation will be critical when you sell your home or for insurance claims. To ensure that your document will hold up in possible legal situations or in court, make sure the company that performs the testing is certified, licensed, insured, and does not perform remediation, which could result in a conflict-of-interest claim.
Reselling Your Home
Future homebuyers may be asking tough questions about whether your home was flooded or struck by falling trees during any of the noteworthy northeast storms so you’ll want to be able to prove via documentation that your home was properly repaired afterwards. Otherwise, doubtful purchasers might cause you to have to lower the sale price, and you might run the risk of a potential lawsuit from the new owner who could claim that you knowingly sold them a home with post-hurricane environmental contamination like mold, lead, asbestos, and bacteria from sewage.
Future Insurance Hassles
If your home floods again and mold returns, your insurance company may question whether the mold was caused by the new event and not from Henri. Without proof that your home was deemed mold-free after repairs were made, the insurance company might take the position that a new claim is not justified or that you have met your policy limit.
Independent Testing Companies vs. One-Stop Shops
Some companies offer mold testing on the cheap and then conveniently offer their own remediation services to fix the problem. This is a clear conflict-of-interest, with the result that the problem is not often remediated – if it exists at all. The consumer may be paying thousands of dollars for bloated repair estimates or an improper and ineffective remediation. Contact RTK for an independent, unbiased test.
Why Choose RTK?
– Leading Independent Environmental Testing Company
– No Conflict-of-Interest Policy
– Accurate and Unbiased
– Certified Microbial Investigators
– Over 25 Years’ Experience
– Building and Construction Backgrounds
– Results in as little as 24-hours
– In-Depth Report Returned in 2-4 Days
– State-of-the-Art Equipment and Technology
– Extensive, Multi-Room Testing to Ensure Accuracy
Call us at 800.392.6468.