Salvaging Disaster-Damaged Belongings

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Release date: 
May 20, 2009
Release Number: 
1834-029

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Following the severe storms and tornadoes of April 9, the immediate focus was on the life-sustaining needs of those affected. As clean-up efforts progress, the focus shifts to recovery operations that may include salvaging personal belongings damaged as a result of the disaster.

Cleaning clothing

  • To kill harmful bacteria, add two tablespoons of liquid chlorine bleach per washer load. Do not use more than two tablespoons per washer load unless all clothes can be safely bleached. Select the longest wash cycle and highest water temperature suitable.
  • Items to be dry-cleaned should be air-dried, brushed to remove any soil and then taken to the cleaners as soon as possible.

Cleaning carpets/rugs

  • Take carpeting or rugs outside and lay on a flat, concrete surface, preferably in the sun.
  • Hose them down thoroughly, using the strongest nozzle setting-at least twice-then pour on all-purpose ammonia or pine-based cleaner and let it soak.
  • Sweep the carpet, pushing the cleaning foam and dirt away from you and then rinse thoroughly until the water runs clear.
  • Use a wet/dry vacuum to get the water out of the material and dry as quickly as possible to help avoid mildew.

Restoring furniture

  • Before starting to salvage damaged furniture, decide which pieces are worth restoring. Also consider the replacement cost and value of each piece. If insurance allows part-value on flood-damaged furniture, it may be more practical to apply the money to new articles rather than to make or pay for extensive repairs.
  • Bring furniture indoors once any debris has been removed; remove the drawers, and let it dry slowly. Furniture left in the sun will warp and twist out of shape. Make sure all parts are completely dry before reassembling.

FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terrorism.

Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46
State/Tribal Government or Region: 
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