Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Rebuilding After Hurricane Florence: Flood Repair Tips

Remediate flood damage

If you're renovating your own property after a major flood,
here are some things to consider before you dive in.

Although Hurricane Florence has dissipated, the storm is just beginning for locals. Millions of victims along the East Coast are returning home and beginning restoration projects after the hurricane pummeled homes in Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. While some will call professionals, many more are remediating their own properties. The "do-it-yourself" locals might be contractors by trade, or just self-taught and fixing what they can. However, the process can be physically and emotionally draining no matter how much experience you have. Additionally, insurance companies may require certified professionals to perform the work in order to receive full reimbursement. If you've experienced flood damage and aren't sure where to begin, here are some tips to help you get started.

Please be aware that this year's hurricane season runs until November 30th. It's important to have an emergency plan if you live in an affected area. If you've been affected by Hurricane Florence, Zack Academy sends our deepest condolences. Please review these disaster relief programs to help you in your time of need.

Insurance: The first thing to do is file a claim with your homeowner or renter's insurer. If you don't have flood insurance, file a claim anyway. Then you can try to apply for disaster assistance, a FEMA grant, or loan from the Small Business Administration (SBA) - even if you don't own a small business.

Mortgage: Contact the company that holds your mortgage or rent. Sometimes, you can arrange payment plans or even temporary payment moratoriums in the event of a disaster. Keep records during this time as you may be eligible for tax benefits at the end of the year. 

Returning Home: If your home was flooded, chances are you had to evacuate. It's a good idea to return home as soon as it is safe to do so because the longer any floodwater sits in your home, the more damage will be done to your property. Be sure to ventilate your home as soon as you return to help air out any fungus. Turn on fans if you have electricity, but don't turn up the heat as warm air can facilitate mold growth.

Planning the Project: Before you jump into sanitizing your home, it's important to have a plan of what to do. Seeing your favorite items destroyed can be overwhelming for anyone, and when you're emotional, you won't make rational decisions. Survey your property and then make a list of what needs to be trashed and what can be salvaged. Be sure to:
  • Make note of the items you remove from your property.
  • Take pictures of the items with their model numbers, unique identifiers and descriptions.
  • Add flood-damaged items to your claim.
Cleaning and Repairing: Thoroughly check every item in your house for damage. If you're going to clean personal items, keep in mind that they may have been drenched with pathogen-filled water or contain mold. Particularly for residents of the Carolinas, E. coli and tetanus are huge public health concerns right now as many farms have flooded, releasing animal waste into flood waters. When it comes to flooring and walls, even if the floodwater has receded, there can still be pockets of moisture trapped in crevices. If you don't remediate these areas, you can cause lasting structural damage to your property.  If you're going to clean it all yourself, remember that:
  • You should always wear protective equipment when working in flood-damaged areas.
  • You should log the costs of all your repairs to add to your claims.
  • Rebuilding before your property is completely dry will only cause longterm damage. 
Calling a Professional: Even if you're a home contractor yourself, some types of flood repairs might be beyond your expertise. You can either call a professional for immediate assistance, or consider getting certified to perform specialty repairs if you have a big neighborhood project on your hands. Whatever you do, you're going to need specialized training for these types of flood repairs:
  • Electrical Damage: If you don't have the right equipment or experience, do not handle damaged electrical outlets or wiring. Besides the inherent personal danger, some states can fine you for performing electrical work without a license. If you're still determined to go at it on your own, at least consider a Basic Electricity Course.
  • Exposed Asbestos: Knocking down walls can expose asbestos-containing insulation and piping. The EPA is extremely strict about asbestos removal, so consider professional options before you handle asbestos. If you're interested in asbestos training, Zack Academy offers several courses.
  • Damaged Lead Paint: If your house was built before 1978, it may contain lead paint. Although you don't need an EPA Lead Renovator Certification to work on your own property that you reside in, it's highly advised to either consult a certified Lead Renovator or take the class yourself. Lead paint is extremely toxic and requires special lead-safe work practices.
  • Wastewater: Garages and tool sheds are often overlooked during aftermath renovations. This is a huge mistake; if you illegally dump water contaminated with chemicals like cleaners, fertilizers, and gasoline, you can be fined by the EPA. If you aren't familiar with wastewater laws, you can start with the EPA Clean Water Act. Consult a professional, or consider taking a basic stormwater course depending on the scope of your project.
  • Extensive Water Damage: When an entire structure has been flooded, you'll need specialized drying equipment. It's best to leave water damage restoration equipment to IICRC-certified Water Damage Restoration Technicians or Applied Structural Drying Technicians. They'll have access to commercial drying equipment that will get the job done faster. If you want to learn the techniques anyway, you can register for an IICRC Water Damage Restoration Technician Course.
Although the aftermath of flooding can seem daunting, it is possible to rebuild. To learn more about disaster relief programs, visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency. To get certified to renovate before the next storm, visit Zack Academy. Zack Academy offers a variety of in-person and online vocational training courses relevant to disaster renovation.

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