MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Damage that occurs from water entering a home after a hurricane isn’t always visible in the first days after floodwaters recede. Officials of the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Alabama Emergency Management Agency (AEMA) have issued some guidelines to assist Alabama residents in the hurricane recovery process.
Mold can be hidden behind the walls or numerous other locations in a home. Disaster officials warned residents of Alabama who experienced interior water damage from Hurricane Dennis to thoroughly clean and completely dry areas that were wet to keep mold from growing into a health and safety problem.
During flood cleanup, you may think the air quality inside your home would be the least of your problems. But standing water and wet materials are a breeding ground for microorganisms, such as viruses, bacteria and mold. “They can cause disease and allergic reactions and continue to damage the home and your health long after the hurricane,” said FEMA’s Mike Bolch, federal coordinating officer for the disaster.
Molds are fungi – simple microscopic organisms that thrive anywhere there is a moist environment. Molds can grow on wood products, ceiling tiles, wallboard, fabric, insulation and many other household and building materials. Mold growth can develop within 24-48 hours of water exposure, and will continue to grow until steps are taken to eliminate the source of moisture and effectively deal with the mold problem.
“The most important points to remember in stopping mold growth are to eliminate the source of moisture and to thoroughly dry the area,” said AEMA’s Bruce Baughman. Contaminated porous materials should be thrown out, such as bedding, rugs, curtains, books and paper. Hard surfaces should be cleaned with soap and water and then disinfected with a 10% bleach solution. If you are allergic to molds or the mold problem in your home is extensive, you may want to consult a professional cleaning service.
FEMA prepares the nation for all hazards and manages federal response and recovery efforts following an incident of national significance. FEMA also initiates mitigation activities, trains first responders, works with state and local emergency managers, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.