Anchorage, AK -- Beware of mold and mildew that may have developed in your home because of the severe winter storms and flooding that occurred from Oct. 23 to Nov. 12, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) advises.
Dampness in basements, walls, carpets and wood provides environments for mold to flourish. Mold will continue to grow until steps are taken to eliminate the source of moisture, and effectively deal with the mold problem. Exposure to high spore levels can cause allergies, and structural damage to your home. For some people, even a relatively small number of mold spores can cause health problems.
You can tell if you have mold in your home because you can see it, and if there is an earthy or musty odor. Check under materials where water has damaged surfaces, or behind walls. Look for discoloration and leaching from plaster. Disinfect and dry moldy areas. It is critical that sources of moisture be removed because mold will return if the area becomes wet again.
Other advice - wear gloves when handling moldy materials, remove porous materials (carpet, wood products, etc.), and allow the area to dry 2-3 days. Wear a mask or respirator, and protect your eyes, when cleaning damaged materials. Minimize your exposure to bleach when using it or other disinfectants. Ask others to leave the area when it's being cleaned. Work short time spans, and rest where there is fresh air.
If mold odors persist, consider that a warning to check further. Continue to dry areas and look for hidden areas of mold. You may have to re-clean areas. Don't replace flooring or begin rebuilding until all the areas have dried completely.
Residents and business owners in Kenai Peninsula Borough, Kodiak Borough, and the Chignik Bay area whose homes, businesses and property were damaged by the disaster are also urged to register for assistance as soon as possible. Call the FEMA toll free registration number: 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for speech- and hearing-impaired persons between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.