Once the storm passes: Dealing with the flood

Floods can be devastating. Even after the stress and chaos of the initial emergency, the following clean up and restoration is a whole additional challenge.

One of the first things to do is to call your insurance company to file a claim. Make a list of all the damage and take photos and videos throughout the cleaning process. Keep damaged items as proof of loss.

Stay Safe During Flood Cleanup

Make sure that the electricity to the building is turned off before entering. Have an electrician inspect the premises before turning the power back on.

Wait until the public health department or utilities company declares the water supply safe for consumption. In the meantime, purify any water used to drink or cook as well as for personal washing, clothes, and dishes.

If the flooded areas have dried out, the next step is removal of mud, waste, and debris left inside. Scrub all surfaces with hot water and disinfectant. Disinfect all dishes and silverware in boiling water or bleach and let air dry.

Take furniture, clothes, bedding, and rugs outside to air dry. If stuffed animals, toys, or mattresses have gotten wet, throw them away.

Pumping Flood Water Out

Before pumping water out of your basement or lower level, be sure all the water outside the house has receded. It could potentially seep back into the house. Until the water has dissipated, keep the electricity turned off and stay away from standing water, especially children and pets. You should also check with local authorities to determine where draining the water is allowed. You are going to need a submersible pump and a garden hose or a sump hose. A bigger hose will pump faster. You will also need a generator and an extension cord. Keep running generators out of the house.

Attach the cord to the pump and secure the connection where no water can reach. Position the hose on a downward grade away from the house and towards a drain or sewer. Place the pump in the water at the lowest point. Use a rope to lower the pump if the water level is high. Once everything is in place, plug the extension cord into the generator and begin pumping.

If you have large amounts of water in the basement, don’t pump more than 2-3 feet of water in a day. If the ground surrounding the basement is still saturated, the water will be pressing against the walls of the basement. At the same time, water on the inside is pressing out. Draining the water from inside too fast will cause an imbalance in pressure which can create cracks in the walls and foundation.

So when removing significant amounts of water, start by draining 2-3 feet. Mark the water level and wait overnight. The next day, if the water has risen above the mark, it’s too early to drain. Wait another day and try again.

For small amounts of water, a wet/dry vacuum can be used. However, the tanks on the vacuum may too small and requires frequent trips to dump water out. For small amount of water this can be a good solution, but it can be a laborious task.

Mold Protection

After the water has been drained, the fight against mold and mildew begins. Install fans and dehumidifiers and open windows to air out the building. Once electricity is back on, use the air conditioning and keep doors open to continue to air out the house.

Remove any wallboards that have come into contact with water. These materials can act as a sponge when wet. If they have been exposed to flood water for any length of time, it is safer to get rid of them. If the damage to plaster and paneling isn’t too severe, then they can be saved.

Open up the walls by cutting rows 4-12 inches off the top and bottom to allow the inside to dry out. Any wet fibrous insulation should be discarded. Wall studs or plates should be sprayed with disinfectant.

Remove any carpet, carpet pads, or rugs within a day or two of water subsiding and throw them away. Allow the subfloor to dry. This may take weeks or even months but a dehumidifier will accelerate the process. Prior to installing new flooring, make sure the subfloor hasn’t warped.

Hardwood floors can usually be dried and maintained. Remove a board every couple of feet; the wood will have swelled and this will prevent buckling.

The aftermath to a disaster may seem almost as daunting as the storm itself. But reliable equipment and know-how will take a bit of the stress out of dealing with the clean up. Taking safety precautions, consulting local officials, and gathering information can help ease the process and offer lessons for future emergencies.

Pumps for Flood Waters

We received many inquiries about which pump are best for removing flood waters. We have several categories of pumps for dewatering flooded areas. Here are the three groups of pumps generally recommended: Mud Pumps, Trash Pumps, Dewatering Pumps.

However, if you are unsure, please give us a call. Our engineers can assess your specific situation and recommend the right pump to handle the flood waters.