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Friday, October 8, 2010

THE GREAT FLOOD OF 2001; Inside: Water's gone, now what?(HOUSTON).

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The water's gone.

The soggy carpet and padding have been pulled up, hosed down and almost dried out. Whether the carpet is reused or tossed remains to be seen.

The wet clothes and linens are being sorted and washed or discarded.

The furniture is drying and will be refinished, reupholstered or replaced.

After those initial, urgent first steps to recovery, it's time to evaluate and plan.

Chronicle Nuts & Bolts columnist Jim Brown says if you haven't aired out the house, that's next. "Open up the house (windows, doors) to air it out. Turn on fans. Or if the air-conditioning is still working, crank it up to dry out."

Airing the house should stop lingering odors, if the sources have been eliminated. Do not, Brown warns, use room deodorizers, especially heavily perfumed types, as they will only mask smells, not eliminate them.

Mop the floors with a disinfectant. You can use laundry bleach - 1/2 cup to 1 cup per gallon of water (any more could discolor the floor). If you have to sand and refinish a wood floor, discoloring will not matter. Or to be sure you won't bleach or damage the floor, use ConSan 20 and follow the label instructions, Brown says.

Karen Krakower, a local writer whose home has been flooded more than once, including last weekend, says she wipes down and mops disinfectant onto surfaces whenever possible, as spraying helps spread mold.

Wood floors covered with water too long will expand and buckle, even push the walls. Brown suggests taking up a few boards at each end of the room until the wood shrinks to prevent pressure on the walls.

"If your walls were soaked, cut the Sheetrock 6 to 12 inches above the water line. Tear out the Sheetrock and wet insulation so air can dry everything out," Brown says. Repairs can begin when everything is dry and disinfected.

He suggests having your electrical system checked by a professional if you had more than 12 inches of water in the house. If you had less than 12 inches and the water was clear, not grimy, the electrical system may be all right once it's dry, he adds.

Do not turn on wet appliances; it will ruin them. If they stood in a lot of water, it's best to have them checked by a pro, including the outside air-conditioning unit. If you have an older refrigerator that stood in water and now has an odor you can't locate, it may be wet fiberglass insulation - a smell Brown says is impossible to eliminate. Newer refrigerators have different insulation.

Having been through the home flooding drill more than once, Krakower and her husband, Mike, readily share some of their clean-up organization tips.

"The best thing we came up with was a huge (40-foot) cargo container," she says. "We stayed in the house during the clean-up last time, so it helped to keep things we took out of the house close by and handy, not in a storage locker somewhere else. That way we could move things in or out and find things when we needed them.

"The container company (look under "Containers" in the Yellow Pages) delivered it to us and picked it up when we were finished about six weeks later. We ran an extension cord to the container to operate a dehumidifier and fans."

A smaller-scale tip from Krakower is to use plastic lawn or trash bags to collect your belongings. Label each bag: dirty but dry, wet but salvageable, trash, etc. Not only should you keep all the wet items to show the insurance adjuster, she says, but you also don't want to throw out the wrong thing in your rush to clean up. Making decisions will become easier.

The Texas Agricultural Extension Service's free publication Handbook for Emergency Preparation and Response (see box on this page) devotes a page to "Emotional Recovery After a Disaster," including advice especially helpful in the aftermath of last weekend's flood:

Be extra-patient.

Realize that it will take time to restore things, both physically and emotionally.

Focus on the big picture instead of the little details. This will give you a sense of completeness.

.........

Handbook can help during disaster

The Texas Agricultural Extension Service provides free information on recovering flood-damaged property. Handbook for Emergency Preparation and Response is available on the extension service's Harris County Web site - harris-tx.tamu.edu. Those without Web access can call their local extension office, ask for the publication by name and request the section on floods to be mailed.

Numbers for extension offices in the Houston area are:

Brazoria County: 979-864-1555

Chambers County: 409-267-8347

Fort Bend County: 281-342-3034

Galveston County: 281-534-3413

Harris County: 281-855-5600

Jefferson County: 409-835-8461

Liberty County: 936-336-4558

Montgomery County: 936-539-7825

Walker County: 979-826-7651

Source Citation
"THE GREAT FLOOD OF 2001; Inside: Water's gone, now what?" Houston Chronicle [Houston, TX] 16 June 2001: 1. General OneFile. Web. 8 Oct. 2010.
Document URL
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