Flood Abatement 101
Flood damage can have devastating and fast-acting effects on a structure, making a prompt response critical to address damage and minimize the risk of complications in the future. Knowing what's involved in flood abatement can help you plan ahead if you live in an area where flooding is a risk orPosted — Updated
Flood damage can have devastating and fast-acting effects on a structure, making a prompt response critical to address damage and minimize the risk of complications in the future. Knowing what's involved in flood abatement can help you plan ahead if you live in an area where flooding is a risk or you've just received a flood warning, and if you're dealing with it right now, know that time is of the essence.
Water damages materials in several ways. Strong storm surges and currents can displace structural components, rip away siding, and cause immediate physical damage. As the water penetrates it can also cause warping and separation, as well as breakdown of materials like mortar and plaster. Once it settles, it becomes a breeding ground for mold, which can become a health hazard in addition to a structural one. If the water also carries toxic chemicals or salt, the structural damage can be even worse, and water contaminated with sewage and other biohazards may present a health risk.
If you have to do it on your own, be aware that a surface can look dry while water is still contained underneath. Humidity sensors are available to help detect the amount of water in the air, and dehumidifiers can help pull water from the air to reduce moisture levels. You may need to cut out sections of walls, floors, or ceilings to remove damaged components and determine that the interior of the structure is dry; remember to use a stud finder to make sure you don't cut into structural supports when you do this.
As you go through the flood abatement process, make sure to document with numerous photographs. These will be very important when you make an insurance claim to assist with the costs, or if you need to apply for emergency funds released by government agencies to help homeowners with flood damage. You may also find them useful in the event you sell your home and the buyers ask about past flooding history and request records on abatement procedures. Also keep copies of all your records including bills for materials, labor, and other costs associated with the mitigation, like bills for temporary housing if your home is unsafe to inhabit during the restoration.
There are some steps you can take to mitigate flood damage before it happens, including following building best practices in your areas like elevating your home, using coated and treated materials to resist water, and moving porous materials to high ground when a flood warning is issued to reduce the risk of damage. If you have a two story home, for example, consider moving furniture, rugs, and other soft furnishings upstairs for the duration of foul weather. Insurance agents and contractors are good sources of information on flood prevention and control.