ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. -- Mold in flood-damaged houses can cause health problems if it is not eliminated. People with asthma, allergies and other breathing conditions may be more sensitive to mold, and people with immune suppression are more susceptible to mold infections, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the North Carolina Department Health and Human Services encourage people returning to homes flooded during Tropical Storm Nicole to treat mold thoroughly and seek professional help if the mold is extensive.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has extensive information available online at www.ncdhhs.gov/hurricanes/afterflood.htm.
Here are some excerpts on what to look for when you are repairing a flooded home:
- Remove mold and mildew. Any materials or furnishings that soaked up water should be removed from the building. Other moldy or mildewed building materials should be thoroughly cleaned and dried or removed and replaced.
- Check out the floors. Carpet and padding cannot be cleaned well enough to prevent mold and mildew from growing. Throw them away. Take out the flooring and sub-flooring if they cannot be completely cleaned and dried or if they have started to deteriorate. Crawl spaces should also be cleaned out and dried.
- Dry out walls and check heating and air-conditioning systems. Walls that were wet should be stripped to the studs and the insulation removed. Walls must remain open to allow them to completely dry. Heating and air-conditioning systems that contacted floodwater can be hiding places for mold.
- Salvage what you can. Furnishings that are moist or wet 24 hours after floodwater recedes will have mold growing in or on them. Clothing and linens may be salvaged by washing with chlorine bleach and detergent, or sent to commercial laundries or dry cleaners. Upholstered furniture, mattresses, and furniture made of particleboard or wafer board should be thrown away.
- Make sure that all parts of the building are dry before rebuilding or repairing. Mold will grow on replacement materials if the studs, subfloor or other building parts are not completely dry. The structure should be tested with a moisture meter before you start replacing the damaged parts of your home.
“Repairing Your Flooded Home,” a publication from the American Red Cross and FEMA is available free in Disaster Recovery Centers open for this disaster and from FEMA Publications at 800-480-2520.
FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.
Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362). For TTY call 800-462-7585.