12 Post-Storm Cleanup Tips
By Larry Bilotti
Now that Hurricane Sandy has wreaked its havoc on some 50 million people living along the northeastern coast, the storm cleanup begins. If you’re in an area that suffered serious damage, take cues from local authorities and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. For everyone else, consider these helpful storm recovery tips.
Regardless of how minor you think the damage is, take snapshots for possible insurance purposes. If the damage is considerable, be sure to contact your insurance company and FEMA to see what benefits may be available to you.
Extract the water
If your basement or house has flooded, extracting the water will be your first order of business. Let your sump pump do its job, and take on the rest of the water with a mop or wet vac. Clean any drains that might have been covered by debris.
Keep air circulating
Open vents and windows and set up a fan to keep fresh air circulating. The sooner everything dries, the less potential for mold, mildew and permanent damage. Invest in a dehumidifier to remove damp air and facilitate in the dry-out process.
Clean with disinfectant
Since floodwaters can be filled with a variety of contaminants from sewage to chemicals, make sure to clean floors, walls and furniture with a disinfectant (a solution of warm water and bleach should work). Be sure to wear a mask and gloves.
Remove wet drywall
If you have drywall, the water-soaked portion will need to be removed and replaced. The chances of it drying out thoroughly are slim, and it holds the potential for mold and mildew. The same is true for water-damaged insulation behind drywall.
If your property suffered major tree damage, your state and local municipality or emergency services may help clear the way. If not, contact a tree expert to assess the damage and determine whether it is to be saved or removed.
Clean up any debris that might have blown around shrubs. If they were damaged, you will need to do some “mandatory” pruning. Most plants are resilient and will be no worse for wear come summer.
If you find your yard filled with branches, leaves and debris, you have some yard work ahead of yourself. Collect the large branches and debris for disposal and use a rake or leaf blower to clear away the rest.
Where there are high winds there is roof damage. Inspect your roof for shingles that might have come loose, dislodged or blown off. They should be repaired as soon as possible, since the exposed roof deck will be subject to further moisture in the weeks and months ahead.
If you suffered more serious damage, consult with a roofing contractor to see how you can protect the interior of your home until a professional repair can be made.
Check for leaks
Survey the inside of your house to see if there are any water spots on ceilings or near chimneys. If so, it’s a sign of additional roof problems, the source of which could be anything from compromised shingles to inadequate flashing.
If windows have blown out or shattered, board them up until a repair can be made. If it is a small, single pane of glass, you may be able to re-glaze it yourself. If not, contact your local home center or glass store for service.
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Bob Vila is the home improvement expert widely known as host of TV’s This Old House, Bob Vila’s Home Again, and Bob Vila. Today, Bob continues his mission to help people upgrade their homes and improve their lives with advice online at BobVila.com. His video-rich site offers a full range of fresh, authoritative content – practical tips, inspirational ideas, and more than 1,000 videos from Bob Vila television.
Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.