Disaster Relief: Priorities for Cleanup and Repair
Priorities for cleanup and repair vary according to the kind and seriousness of damage. Buildings may not be habitable during repair.
- Examine building structure.
- Check foundations for settling, cracking, or undermining.
- Examine walls, floors, doors, and windows for necessary repairs.
- You may want to repair only temporarily until extensive work can be done.
- If basement is flooded, start pumping the water in stages. Pump out about a third of the water each day.
- Get the electrical system working.
- If the switchbox is in a flooded basement, do not turn electricity back on until you have pumped out the water.
- Take electrical appliances to a qualified service repair center as soon as possible.
- Get the water system working. Disinfect wells and water system.
- Shovel out mud and silt before it dries.
- Before they dry, wash down flooded walls and floors with hose. Start at upper limit of flooding and work downward.
- Scrub and disinfect walls and floors.
- Start heating system, if possible, to speed up drying.
- Before operating the heating system, you may need to clean, dry, and recondition it.
- Make sure chimneys are clean before starting the system.
- Dry out walls and floors.
- If required for proper drying, strip drywall up to water level.
- Drill holes in exterior siding.
- Complete drying may take months.
- Repair buckled walls and floors.
- Clean and dry household items, furniture, carpets, clothing, dishes, and bedding. Disinfect when necessary.
- Treat items for mildew as needed.
- Care for damaged trees, shrubs, and lawn.
- Repaint, repair, and refinish as necessary.
Supplies and Equipment for Home Cleanup
__ Non-phosphate detergents1
__ Scouring powder
__ Rubber gloves
__ Strong boots or heavy-soled shoes
1United States manufacturers have removed phosphate from laundry detergents.
2Use bleach sparingly, if at all. New EPA recommendations caution against its use.
Equipment for Small Jobs
__ Tools (crowbar, hammer, screwdriver)
__ Sponges and cloths
__ Scrub brushes
__ Throw-away containers for garbage, and a container to carry from house to street
__ Water hose
Equipment for Large Jobs
__ Sponge mop or a mop that is easily squeezed out
__ Water hose
__ Bushel baskets
__ Wash tubs (for soaking objects)
For More Information
Booklets with more detailed information and illustrations about flood and mold clean-up can be downloaded online. Use the links listed here, or search by title and sponsoring organization.
- Creating a Healthy Home: A Field Guide for Cleanup of Flooded Homes: An illustrated 18-page booklet created through a cooperative effort of the National Center for Healthy Housing, NeighborWorks America, and Enterprise Community Partners. http://nchh.org/resource/creating-a-healthy-home-a-field-guide-for-clean-up-of-flooded-homes/
- A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home: Photos and instructions may be viewed online, or a booklet may be downloaded, with EPA recommendations. https://www.epa.gov/mold/brief-guide-mold-moisture-and-your-home
- Flood Cleanup and the Air in Your Home: Basic safety and cleanup information in an easy-to-read booklet with color illustrations. Also available in Spanish. https://www.epa.gov/mold/flood-cleanup-and-air-your-home-booklet
- Recover after a Disaster: Red Cross online guides. https://www.redcross.org/get-help/disaster-relief-and-recovery-services.html
- Recover and Rebuild: FEMA resources. https://www.fema.gov/blog/get-free-fema-publications-help-you-prepare-recover-and-rebuild
Publication 3676 (POD-07-21)
Reviewed by Rubin Shmulsky, PhD, Professor and Head, Sustainable Bioproducts.
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