Cleaning Up After Flood Damage

a village with a flood

IMMEDIATE CLEANUP (1st STAGE)

A flood is always a devastating event, and the heartbreak at witnessing your possessions being either washed away or damaged, no matter what their value, is something that cannot be fully understood unless you have experienced it yourself.

For those who unfortunately have to evacuate their homes, there is always the anxiety, stress and feeling of dread about what to expect when they return – always hoping for the best.

So, the floods have subsided, and it is time to assess the damage – and begin the big clean-up.

Floods can cause untold damage to the structure of your house and personal belongings, and can contaminate everything inside.  Flood waters contain many contaminants and a lot of mud.  Everything gets ruined at once (even with just an inch of water), such as walls, flooring, carpets, furniture and appliances – as well as everything else!

First things first:

  • Call your insurance agent: If your insurance covers the damage, your agent will tell you when an adjuster will contact you. List the damage and take photos, or video, of everything as you clean. You’ll need complete records for insurance claims, applications for financial assistance, and income tax deductions.
  • Electrical system: Turn the power off at the meter box, and wherever else you need to. Unplug and remove any electrical appliances or electronics.

If power points have been exposed to floodwater, do not turn on the electricity until a qualified electrician has inspected it.

  • Household Safety: Use a torch to carry out an inspection inside the building.
  • Personal Hygiene: Treat all floodwater as potentially contaminated with sewage, and 

always make sure your feet are covered when entering areas where mud is present.  Always wear gloves when handling flood affected items or mud.

  • Keep children out of flood affected areas.
  • Farm Chemicals: According to the Hunter New England Health and NSW Fire Brigade, the NSW Fire Brigade is the authority for ‘Hazardous Materials’ incidents within NSW, and for rendering the site of such incidents safe.

If you have any concerns regarding chemicals, fertilisers or gas cylinders that may pose a risk to you, or those involved in recovery operations, please contact ‘000’ and ask for Fire.  If you aren’t sure, ring your local Council for advice.

           

  • Sewage systems: Flooding of a septic system may lead to a back-up of sewage in the home, and lack of sanitation until the system is fixed. When flooding persists, a septic system cannot function properly.  Septic tanks may need to be pumped out, and the immediate and surrounding area may need time to dry out. If you suspect your septic tank has been damaged, have it professionally inspected and/or serviced.
  • In the Yard: Yards should be raked to remove debris. If necessary, hose down the yard, carefully apply builders lime, and wet down the lime. (This will help disinfect small areas of septic; or animal waste; or sewage.)  Make sure you wear rubber gloves.

To avoid creating mosquito breeding sites, remove anything from the yard that will hold water, empty out pot plant bases, and try to encourage drainage from the yard.

  • Contaminated mud: Wash out mud, dirt and debris from your house with a hose, starting at the highest point and working down to ground level.
  • Water bores/wells:  If you use bore/well water domestic purposes and that bore/well has been filled with floodwater, you should empty the bore/well of three (3) times the volume of the bore or well, before using the water. If you are concerned about the quality of your bore water, please contact your local Council.
  • Pump out the basement:  If your basement is full, or nearly full of water, pump out less than a meter (approx. 3 feet) of water each day. If you drain the basement too quickly, the pressure outside the walls will be greater than the pressure inside the walls. That may make the walls and floor crack and collapse.
  • Remove furniture and movable items immediately:   Take furniture, rugs, bedding and clothing outside to dry as soon as possible. Use an air conditioner (if safe to do so) to remove moisture – or open at least two windows to ventilate the house with outdoor air.  Also, if safe, use fans to circulate air in the house.
  • Get rid of the water:  If you don’t have power, or are worried about loose wires, use old towels, buckets and mops to soak up as much water as possible. As long as sewers in your neighbourhood aren’t backed up, you can pour the water down the drain, otherwise, pour onto your lawn or wherever it will soak away. 

A wet/dry vacuum can also be used, but note: make sure you plug it into outlets far away from water. Don’t use an extension cord as the connection could also short out and electrocute you.  Be extremely careful when using electricity near water.

However you are able to do it, getting rid of all the water and drying out the area is the most important thing you can do to prevent mould growth.

  • Dry out the affected area:  Start drying out the house as soon as floodwaters recede. On dry days keep all doors and windows open to assist with drying. Fans may also help. Try to drain water away from under the house, and try to increase the airflow there to assist drying. Check for trapped water and mud in wall or floor cavities.

Once the immediate danger has been dealt with, and the excess water removed from the affected areas, you can begin work on the next stage – cleaning, disinfecting and drying everything inside your home.

To remove the items which have been damaged, the easiest and quickest way is to hire a skip bin.  At this stage it would be tempting to place everything on hand in the skip bin, as you’ve been through enough and aren’t up to dealing with any further sorting, etc.  However, please talk to your skip bin provider about what you have on hand, and they will advise you as to what to place in the skip bin.

At Newcastle Skips we offer prompt delivery and pickup of your skip bins. We follow through with an efficient service 6 days a week.  Our skip bins come in multiple sizes, from 2 to 30 cubic metres, for small or large jobs.  We have an eco-friendly philosophy and a commitment to recycling – and offer professional, friendly service.

Complete your details on our Home Page for your free quote, or ring us on 0414 375 375.  You can also email us at sales@skipthetip.com

We look forward to serving you with superior skip bins for hire in Newcastle.

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