Flooding is a natural disaster that occurs all over the world and leaves many lasting effects on the communities that it impacts. In fact, according the Department of Homeland Security, flooding is the number one natural disaster in the United States. In recent months, flooding has affected countless people across North America.
In September 2016, heavy rainfall caused many Iowa rivers to be at unusually high levels.The Shell Rock River crested at 21.5 feet, while the nearby Cedar River crested at 21.8 feet, leaving neighboring towns in danger of severe flooding. In Clarksville, which sits alongs the Shell Rock river, over 140 homes experienced water damage. One resident had his basement completely submerged in water. In nearby Vinton, Iowa, which is located on the Cedar River, about 40 homes suffered water damage. One home had 4 feet of flood water on the main level. In addition to water damage, flooded areas must also deal with contamination issues. For instance, in Clarksville, portable toilets were set up to help with the backed up sewer systems. Unfortunately, since flooding isn’t thought to be a high risk in the area, most people don’t have flood insurance. The good news for those affected is that volunteers are stepping up to help. The local football team worked multiple 13 hour days to assist with clean up efforts. In another instance, a local electrician offered to his services for free to help out those with electrical damage.
Rainfall also wreaked havoc in Ontario, Canada in September. Rainfall was so heavy that a state of emergency was declared in Windsor and Tecumseh. When residents were able to assess the damage, it was quite extreme. One home was described as being flooded with 3 feet of water. The cabinets that were once sitting on the ground were now floating in the middle of the room. Homeowners were scrambling to act quickly to restore their homes and avoid further damage. Restoration companies in the area received thousands of calls and were forced to work around the clock to keep up with demand, often bringing in crews from other locations.
Once a restoration company arrives at home, it isn’t always good news. To properly drain and dry out a home can be quite an extensive job. In many homes, the flooring and drywall have to be completely ripped out to be repaired. One homeowner in Windsor discovered the unpleasant surprise of an inch deep layer of sewage in her basement once the floor was drained.
North Carolina Flooding
In October, the southeastern United States had to deal with the after effects from Hurricane Matthew. Fayetteville, North Carolina was one of many cities that experienced serious flooding from the storm. Unfortunately, one of the worst hit areas in Fayetteville was the Habitat village, where low income families live in homes built by Habitat for Humanity. According to the executive director of the program, 93 of the 154 Habitat homes were damaged by the hurricane. The flooding was so severe that one resident found herself hanging onto a windowsill with water up to her neck.
Most of the people living in the flooded homes were forced to leave their homes and try to find somewhere else to stay. Not only is it difficult to be away from their homes, but this arrangement makes it extra challenging for residents, most who live paycheck to paycheck, to get to their jobs. Many relied on bus routes or rides with friends and now are unsure how they will make the journey to work.
Only 27 of the Habitat homes had flood insurance, but luckily, volunteers are stepping up to help. Habitat for Humanity organized volunteers from local schools and churches to help restore the homes. Additionally, many local contractors and builders have joined in to help with the cause, free of charge. Volunteers are dealing with an extensive amount of work from debris removal, to mold, to rewiring, but are optimistic that the homes will be rebuilt better than ever.
What Should You Do?
This brings up the question of what should you do if flooding occurs in your home? The most important factor is, of course, the safety of you and your family. The first thing to do is consider electricity. Ideally, you will be able to turn off power to the flooded area. However, if the power box is blocked by water, don’t attempt this. You will want to avoid entering the water due to the risk of being electrocuted.
If you are able to shut off power to the flooded area, you will still need to be extremely careful wading through it. Depending on the location, the water could be contaminated with waste water or sewage. If you absolutely have to enter the water, ensure that you wash off thoroughly with soap and water.
Flooding also brings up other safety concerns. For instance, if you are using a generator, be sure it is properly set up and well away from doors, vents, and windows. Generator exhaust is toxic, so never use a generator inside your home or garage. Additionally, the EPA recommends that people do not use their sewage system until water in the soil absorption field is lower than the flooded water surrounding the home. Furthermore, you will need to be careful with drinking water, as it may be contaminated, as well.
At this point, you will want to get in touch with your insurance agent to check what sort of coverage you have for flooding. Even if you don’t have flood insurance, your insurance agent can be a valuable resource for restoration information. If you do have insurance, you will want to make sure to use a restoration company that is covered by your policy.
Once you’ve figured out if any of the restoration is covered by insurance, you will have to decide if you want to tackle the process yourself or hire a restoration company. While a restoration company can be quite expensive with no insurance, they have the knowledge and tools to get the job done efficiently. Costs of flood restoration can range anywhere from $1,000 for minor damage all the way to $50,000+ for extensive repair. Extensive repair can involve a wide range of work including draining the water, drying out with fans and dehumidifiers, repairing drywall, replacing flooring, repairing wiring, and much more.Whichever route you want to go, there’s no time to waste- the longer the water sits, the worse the damage will be. Water will soak farther into floors, walls, and carpets, the more time you wait. Not to mention that all of the water and dampness can encourage mold, bacteria, and other potential health risks.
Flooding is an unfortunate and dangerous event, however, it’s something many people have to deal with. If there is a risk of flooding in your area, be sure to take the necessary precautions. If flooding does occur, act as quickly as possible to limit the damage and minimize the health risks.
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