In 2008, eighty two people lost their lives while forty six others were seriously injured in flooding all across the United States. The estimated damage was posted at USD 5.5 billion, more than 60 percent of which were caused by river inundation while the remaining was attributed to flash floods. The flood damage to property was pegged at USD 3.3 billion while crop losses were estimated to be in the USD 2.2 billion levels.
Although these figures pale in comparison to other severe weather phenomena, they are nonetheless significant because flooding is a phenomenon that is not only associated with weather systems. There are a variety of reasons for flooding whether local and confined to one’s home or widespread affecting communities to even entire states. These reasons can be a simple sump pump malfunction, a clogged drain and or sewage line or a more serious problem such as broken dams and major causeways. In these instances, significant flooding can spread across a large expanse of land, wreaking havoc to everything on its path.
Flooding as a Homemade Phenomenon
There simply is not much we can do as individuals when whole communities become inundated due to inclement weather systems and storm surges. The collective efforts of local residents, authorities and professional organizations to effectively manage and control flood damage is often enough in such situations. This is something that we, as individual homeowners can all learn from.
Localized flooding, especially those confined to within the walls of the house, can be particularly bothersome. In these instances, flooding may not actually be the result of natural disasters but rather due to man’s negligence, directly or indirectly. Some of the more common causes of flooding in one’s home is a leaking or broken water pipe, pump failure, as well as incompetent water valves. These can hardly compare to the devastation of massive flooding yet they are significant sources of water and flood damage in themselves.
It is thus important for every American household to become familiar with some of the more common methods of preventing such phenomenon from occurring. Vigilance is the key to addressing these concerns in a proactive manner.
1. Have your water systems – pipes, valves and fixtures – inspected by qualified professionals at least once a year to identify which ones need replacing and which needs fixing. Include in the checkup you roofing in order to identify which needs patching up and which requires installation of new roofing materials.
2. Apply adequate water proofing materials on the surfaces of your house such as the walls and the floors as these are essentially the very first entry points of water. Have a qualified professional technician apply these essential products on the vital parts of the house.
3. Invest in a set of quality and reliable devices that will help you get rid of flood water should it occur at a much faster rate than you have previously hoped for. A primary sump pump installed in the basement and some other low lying area in the house is almost always a good investment. A secondary sump pump as well as a dehumidifier can be significant pieces of technology that can help you in your water removal and moisture elimination needs.
4. Invest in a comprehensive home insurance policy for your home. Make sure that the fine-detailed provisions specifically meet your desired services such as adequate coverage for the type of damage you want protection.
Overcoming the Immediate After Effects
One of the major issues in managing flood damage is the negligence of homeowners and even business owners to control the resulting implications to health and public safety. After major flooding, potable water sources may be substantially contaminated with all sorts of water borne microorganisms and other harmful substances. This is because flooding consequently allows the mixing of different wastes, toxic chemicals, harmful substances, and sediment-rich flood water which can significantly seep through the water table.
This is perhaps one of the major reasons why, aside from flu-like symptoms, gastrointestinal problems are often reported after every major flooding. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomachache are often complained of by virtually everyone. Potable drinking water may be a little bit difficult to source in such situations especially if the local water utility’s reservoir has been contaminated, too. Although water treatment technology can significantly render such microorganisms harmless, it still poses a significant public health threat.
More often than not, flooding also predisposes individuals into developing other water-borne diseases such as leptospirosis, dengue hemorrhagic fever, and various skin infections. What is more troublesome is that with flooding, more pathogenic forms of microbes and viruses can easily gain access to the human body through cuts or breaks in the skin. These cuts can be due to protruding sharp objects which can be hardly discernible in flood waters.
As such, during flooding whether confined to the home or not, individuals should stay vigilant and protect themselves against these perils.
1. When you have to wade through flood waters, it is important to wear rubber boots which should be at least several inches higher than the water level. This is to prevent the possible entry of microorganisms which can burrow directly into the skin.
2. Right after coming from flood waters, make sure to thoroughly wash yourself, especially those body parts that have been in contact with flood water. If you have a problem or concern with the quality of water in your house, then perhaps using an ordinary rubbing alcohol to cleanse the area will do just fine.
3. Allow professionals to provide you with adequate and comprehensive flood damage management. These professional technicians know what is necessary to do in such circumstances. Furthermore they are better equipped to handle floating materials, strewn debris, as well as removing obstacles that may pose a significant threat to public safety and health.
4. Allow professionals to thoroughly inspect the different structures in your home or in the building where you live. Flooding can consequentially alter the composition of the different foundation materials of the building. In such cases, there might be structural defects or issues that require the establishment of emergency board up structures. These mechanisms allow for a temporarily safe environment within which professional workers can carry out their flood damage cleanup and restoration activities.
Health in Flood Damage Control
Long after the flood waters have receded, there are essentially other more important things to attend to than restoring one’s life back in order. One major activity in the process of managing flood damage is the adequate cleanup and mold remediation efforts before final restoration activities can take place. This is because after flooding, it is inevitable that the moist environment become a very suitable habitat for moisture-loving microorganisms like mold and mildew.
Not that mold and mildew instantly kills or short of life threatening; these microorganisms are nonetheless dangerous to the susceptible person. Individuals who may not like at all the presence of mold and mildew include those with known allergies to pollen, those who have compromised immune systems, and those who have undergone medical or surgical procedures that lowered their bodies’ ability to ward off infection. There have been reported cases of hypersensitivity and anaphylactic reactions involving mold and mildew. In these cases, the susceptible individuals died because of severe respiratory distress brought about by spasmodic contractions and swelling of the throat.
The pathogenicity of mold and mildew is not in the microorganisms themselves but rather in the millions of spores they produce every second. These spores are so light that they can get carried by the environmental air and enter into the respiratory passages of a susceptible person. This makes mold and mildew spores a matter of public health.
It is thus important for the homeowner to make sure that mold and mildew are prevented from growing and turning into colonies. If there are already mold and mildew colonies, the homeowner should be clear in removing these microorganisms at all cost. There should be no traces of mold or mildew in the home before effective restoration from flood damage can even start.
1. Use a dehumidifier to eliminate moisture from the room air and render the air quality drier and cleaner. Dehumidifiers draw moisture from the room air and condense them into water and then drained into the outside of the room. By making the quality of indoor air relatively dry, mold and mildew will cease to grow and develop into colonies.
2. Thoroughly clean the flood damaged house by making sure that all flood water and debris is removed. Subsurface extractors can be used to vacuum out the small particles and debris carried by the flood water and into your home. These devices can also help eliminate moisture in the indoor air.
3. You can remove the mold and mildew colonies yourself by using a household cleaning solution made of ten parts warm water and three parts of household bleach. Use this solution to dissolve the chemical bonds of the mold and mildew colony. First, you need to dab the area with a clean piece of cloth soaked in warm water then dab the same area with the household cleaning solution. Do this repeatedly, using only a clean piece of cloth every time you need to dab the area. This is to identify any noticeable change in the color of the area you are cleaning – it should not remain greenish in order for you to say that it is effective.
4. For best results, you may want to consider professional companies that offer a variety of mold and mildew remediation services. These services are thorough and comprehensive to offer you the best possible way to manage and eliminate the threat of mold and mildew infestation in your home. Best of all, they can initiate the flood damage restoration activities right away.
Managing the effects of flood damage to public health and safety is not solely in the hands of local authorities. Because flooding is not merely a community problem when it can also occur as an isolated domestic case, every American homeowner should do his or her part in managing such water phenomenon.