Sep 9 2021 | Disaster Relief

How To Clean Up Mold After A Hurricane



Rescue and recovery efforts have just begun in Louisiana after Hurricane Ida devastated the state. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those living within affected areas throughout the United States and we sympathize with the long road to recovery ahead.

If you are one of the affected, ensure that you are following the instructions of local authorities and monitoring the news for updates. Often, the most danger occurs after the hurricane has passed and citizens are surveying or cleaning up the damage.

As communities come together to clean up the aftermath, it’s important to put your and your family’s safety first. As a company that has built its reputation on eliminating mold and other pathogens, we’ve compiled our best tips to safely and effectively restore your property after the hurricane.

1. Identify Hazards

The wind and debris from hurricanes can weaken structures, uproot underground utilities or pull down overhead power lines. The combination of electrical wires, harmful chemicals and floodwater creates an extremely hazardous environment. 

Before you begin your clean up efforts, survey your area. Make note of what you see, hear, and smell. Has water reached electrical appliances or outlets? Is the structure of the building intact? Has there been any major damage to your building or surrounding utilities? Do you smell petroleum or other chemicals in the water? 

Once you’ve determined that your building is safe to enter you can begin the cleanup process. If anything—even the slightest thing—seems awry, we urge you to contact a professional before proceeding.

2. Address Flooding

Extreme flooding from Hurricane Ida has brought devastating results to homes and businesses from Louisiana to New York City. 

This storm water will mix with gasoline, sewage, pesticides, bacteria, and other local contaminants, creating absolutely filthy and dangerous water to wade through. 

For this reason, if at all possible, we urge you to limit your contact with water until it has receded. Early signs of exposure to harmful chemicals may manifest as upset stomach, headaches, or flu-like symptoms. If you experience any of these after contact with storm water, seek medical attention immediately.

When in and/or around flood water, protect yourself with a mask, non-latex gloves, rubber boots, long sleeves and pants. While you're cleaning, be sure to wear goggles to protect your eyes from mold spores, dust, and splinters.

If you haven’t done so, take photos of the damage and contact your insurance company. After surveying the damage, many people choose to hire professionals and having documentation of the flooding can really help the process move smoothly.

If flooding is limited and accessible use pumps, wet/dry vacuums, and towels to begin to remove it. Take wet furniture or materials outside and put them in a place where they can begin to dry.

Once you have removed standing water and potentially contaminated materials, you will also need to reduce humidity. Simply providing more air movement to the area may do the trick but, for certain areas, renting or buying a dehumidifier may be necessary.


3. Remove Mold

Once the water has receded, the real cleanup begins. 

The filthy water that was ushered in with Hurricane Ida will likely have had time to enter porous materials like drywall, carpeting, and upholstery. Once settled, mold spores and other fungus will begin to develop, so it’s imperative that you remove anything you cannot clean. 

The CDC warns that exposure to mold can lead to "upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, and wheeze in otherwise healthy people; asthma symptoms in people with asthma; and hypersensitivity pneumonitis in individuals susceptible to that immune-mediated condition." During any exposure to areas with mold, be sure to wear a mask.

During mold cleanup take precautions to protect yourself like providing proper ventilation and utilizing proper protective equipment. Keep higher risk individuals like children, those with allergies/asthma, and the elderly away from the contaminated site.

Scrub and sterilize remaining surfaces with an effective sanitizer, such as EfferSan or Wysiwash, but remember to limit the amount of water. If you choose to utilize bleach, please read the CDC’s recommendations for safe and effective sanitization.


4. Tips for Cleaning and Restoring Synthetic Grass After a Flood

There are several concerns after synthetic grass has been flooded due to a natural disaster. Debris, sediment, and infill depletion can reduce the longevity of your turf, or in the case of mold turn your yard into a biohazard.

We recommend having your installer come assess the damage. They can look at whether the drainage system has been damaged, and do testing for mold and chemical contaminants. An assessment may also be necessary to keep your turf under warranty.

As soon as floodwaters recede, Wysiwash can be used to remove the sediment, disinfect, and prevent mold in one step. It may sound counterintuitive to spray water on recently flooded land, but that is your best chance at preventing long-term damage to your artificial turf.

Spray Wysiwash until the turf is flooded. Try to keep the sediment suspended and direct it towards draining areas so it doesn't settle back into the turf fibers or infill.

Recap

To recap, we recommend taking the following precautions to ensure safe and effective clean-up of mold after a hurricane or flood. 

Safety first! Survey your area, recognize the hazards, wear proper safety equipment and use the right tools. As soon as you possibly can, take pictures and start an insurance claim. If you can’t do any of these things or if the scope of the damage is beyond your abilities, contact a professional contractor for help. If you do decide to proceed alone, please pace yourself and use assistance where you can. 

The first action in your recovery plan should be to remove water and humidity. Water and humidity are a real threat to your building after a natural disaster. Get rid of them as quickly as possible. We also recommend sanitizing as you go. Every surface that comes in contact with water or humidity has the potential to produce mold, make sure to scrub and sanitize thoroughly. 

Remember to lend a hand to your community when you get a chance. Once you have gotten your situation in order, provide help to neighbors and friends. There is safety in teamwork and often an extra set of hands can make a huge difference.

Wysiwash will continue to monitor storm updates and cleanup efforts and provide any support we can. If we can be of assistance in any way, visit our contact page and let us know.