General Guidelines for Flood Cleanup
The following are basic guidelines and may not be appropriate in every situation, and DO NOT supersede any instructions from competent authority. For more info, contact FEMA, the Red Cross, or your local health department.
· Once the structure has been certified by competent authority as structurally safe and free of flammable liquids and natural gas or propane, and the electricity and gas is shut down, you can begin to dewater the basement. BE CAREFUL using ANY gasoline or diesel powered pump, pressure washer or generator! BEWARE OF CARBON MONOXIDE! If you live in areas where venomous reptiles or alligators occur, make sure no such “critters” are lurking in some dark corner.
· Once the water is pumped down, the remainder can be removed with a wet vac. Have a licensed electrician check the panel, and make any repairs before you attempt to turn the power on.
· The following items will help you in the cleanup. Large plastic trash bags, a rubber squeegee, a scrub brush, sponges and rags/paper towels, a bucket, mop and plastic scrapers, a hand-pumped sprayer, wet vac, pressure washer.
· Protect yourself, and wear “Tyvek” suits, with the pants legs tucked into rubber boots. Goggles and a respirator with a “Yellow” or “White” (acid gas) cartridge to protect you from chlorine mist. Chemical-resistant, liquid-proof gloves are necessary. The dust masks sold in home centers WILL NOT protect you from chlorine!
· ALL furniture, draperies, carpeting and any other absorbent material like insulation and paneling MUST be removed. Wet sheetrock CAN NOT be dried. It may be possible to save some by cutting it off 12” above the high water line. Items like china, crystal, silverware and some plastic items may be salvaged, and washed/decontaminated. Appliances are destroyed; fridges, freezers, water heaters, boilers and furnaces are damaged beyond repair by flood waters. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO RELIGHT ANY FLOODED COMBUSTION APPLIANCE! You risk fire, explosions, personal injury or death and more property damage.
· To begin decontamination, you need to suit up in your protective suit, respirator, goggles, gloves and boots. Mix 1 cup of chlorine bleach to 1 gallon of water. Beginning ABOVE the high water line, spray the mixture on with your sprayer, scrub the area and let it sit for 15 minutes or so. Hose it off, and vacuum up the liquid. Spray & scrub each stud, and any other exposed wood, again above the high water line, rinse or pressure wash, using a low or medium nozzle.
· When you are done with the walls and woodwork, spray and pressure wash the floor, vacuuming up the residue and disposing of it carefully. Chlorine bleach in that concentration will kill grass and shrubs, bleach clothes and damage fabrics, and can cause eyes irritation, and potentially damage your lungs. That’s why you need a respirator. NEVER MIX BLEACH AND AMMONIA! The gas that produces is the same one used to kill thousands in WW1.
· Once you have finished the decon, then you need to repeat the process using a non-toxic cleaner/degreaser like Simple Green or Pine Sol using the same procedure.
· The final step is to use fans and dehumidifier(s) to dry out the space. Chemical desiccants like “DampRid” are also useful.