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Northeast Homeowners Suffer Flood and Severe Water Damage

Whether or not you have insurance to cover your water damage, there are some things that you MUST DO RIGHT AWAY to help prevent further damage. (We’ll discuss insurance coverage in another article.)

Big picture:

  1. Stay safe. Avoid contaminated water. If your sewer backed up, call in a professional go get the “stuff” cleaned up ASAP. Take lots of pictures – they might be useful later on. Call your Account Manager at Aronson Insurance 781-444-3050. We are available 24 x 7 to take your calls.
  2. Get the water out. Whether you use a wet-vac, sump pump or mops and pails, you need to get the standing water out as quickly as you can; the longer the water sits, the higher risk of mold growing.
  3. After you get the standing water out, get the wet, damaged “stuff” out of the house. Consider putting it in the garage. (If make an insurance claim, the insurance company has the right to inspect the damaged property.)F
  4. Get the wet carpet padding out of the house.
  5. Get the dehumidifiers going – as many as you can get your hands on. Again, the faster you get all of the moisture out, the less chance of mold growing.
  6. If the walls are made of drywall/plasterboard – you probably need to cut out and remove the board up to the high water line, plus 6” or so. It is very difficult to remove all of the moisture from wet drywall.
  7. If any in-wall insulation got wet – get it out – fast! Mold…
  8. Have a contractor (ServiceMaster, Duraclean, etc.) remove the rest of the water that you might not be able to extract from the carpets and padding yourself.
  9. If you see any black mold starting to grow, consider using a bleach mixture (2 capfuls of bleach to 1 gallon of water) to kill the mold before it spreads. You may want to call a professional to do this.

Please read the following recommendations from MEMA:

211 Message for Homeowners and Citizens

  • Governor Deval Patrick has declared a statewide State of Emergency in response to the impact of the March 13th Nor’easter that has produced three days of high winds, heavy rains, beach erosion, major flooding, and widespread road closures.
  • The declaration of a State of Emergency enables the Governor to take the appropriate steps to mobilize many of the Commonwealth’s assets and resources, such as the National Guard, and conduct other emergency business to assist local communities is their response to many impacts of this storm.
  • The state declaration of an emergency is NOT the same as a presidential declaration of disaster. The state emergency declaration is designed to give the Governor maximum flexibility in directing state resources to respond to the problem, which can include calling up the National Guard to assist municipalities respond to the floodwaters. Our current focus is on response and public safety. There is no state damage reimbursement program.
  • The presidential declaration of disaster, which is something the Governor will request, if approved will trigger federal programs that will partially reimburse homeowners, businesses, and municipalities for costs and damages incurred. As the storm ends and flood waters receded, MEMA and FEMA damage assessment teams will tour impacted areas to tabulate damage and costs. Federal thresholds are high, so the more data we get, the better chance we have at receiving approval.
  • As a homeowner, the best thing you can do is to document damage and repair costs, especially if they are uninsured. Please provide this information to your local emergency management director, so that assessment teams can receive a complete picture of the impact and costs.

MEMA TIPS FOR AFTER THE FLOOD
Communities and Homeowners To Begin Cleanup Following Nor’easter

“Flood dangers do not end when the waters begins to recede,” stated Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency Director Don Boyce. “To that end, MEMA shares this information to help ensure the continued safety of you, your family, your property and your community.”

  • If you have been evacuated, listen to the Media and your local Public Safety officials. Do not return home until authorities indicate that it is safe to do so.
  • Avoid floodwaters. The water may be contaminated by oil, gasoline or raw sewage.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and clean water if you come in contact with floodwaters.
  • Never attempt to drive into or through floodwaters. Your vehicle can be quickly swept away by as little as 2 feet of moving water. Many flood fatalities are vehicle related.
  • Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded. Roads may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of your car.
  • Do not become a spectator. Unnecessary travel into the most impacted areas could hinder efforts of Public Safety officials.
  • Avoid all downed powerlines. Electrical current can travel through water. Assume all wires are live. Report downed electrical wires to your utility company or local authorities.
  • Before returning to a building, inspect for cracks or other damage. When entering, use extreme caution; making sure that the building is not in danger of collapsing.
  • Take pictures of the damage, both to the house and its contents for insurance claims.
  • Look for hazards such as broken or leaking gas lines, flooded electrical circuits, submerged furnaces or electrical appliances and damaged sewage systems. Report them to the utility company or local authorities.
  • Until local authorities proclaim your water supply safe, boil water for drinking and food preparation vigorously for five minutes before using.
  • Flooded buildings should be pumped out and disinfected. Pump out basements gradually, about 1/3 per day, to avoid structural damage.
  • After the water is pumped out, solid wastes should be disposed of in a functioning sewage disposal system or sealed in plastic bags for disposal in an approved landfill.
  • All flooded floor and wall surfaces should be washed with a solution of two capfuls of household bleach for each gallon of water.
  • Carpeting, mattresses and upholstered furniture should be disposed of or cleaned and disinfected by a professional cleaner.
  • Dampness in basements, walls, carpets, and wood provide an excellent environment for mold to flourish. If you see or smell mold, take immediate steps to eliminate the excess moisture.
  • Throw away food that has come in contact with floodwaters.
  • Do not turn your yard into a dump. Have debris hauled away before it causes additional health hazards.
  • Yards that have been contaminated by flooded sewage systems should be disinfected by a liberal application of lime. Children and animals should be kept away from limed areas until the lime is no longer visible.
  • If your home, apartment or business has suffered damage, call your insurance company or agent who handles your flood insurance right away to file a claim. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administers the National Flood Insurance Plan (NFIP) through the Federal Insurance Administration (FIA). The NFIP makes flood insurance available in communities that adopt and enforce ordinances to reduce flood damage.
  • Be a good neighbor. Make sure those around you are safe and have the help that they need.
  • Be prepared for a rough time. Recovering from a flood is a big job. It is taxing on the body and spirit. The after-effects of this type of disaster on you and your family may last a long time. Consult a health professional on how to recognize and care for anxiety, stress and fatigue.

These tips, which have been issued by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), include information developed by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) is the state agency responsible for coordinating federal, state, local, voluntary and private resources during emergencies and disasters in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. MEMA provides leadership to: develop plans for effective response to all hazards, disasters or threats; train emergency personnel to protect the public; provide information to the citizenry; and assist individuals, families, businesses and communities to mitigate against, prepare for, and respond to and recover from emergencies, both natural and man made. For additional information about MEMA and Flood Preparedness, go to www.mass.gov/mema. Also follow MEMA updates on Twitter and Facebook.