Major Flood Damage and Mold: How to Make Repairs Safely and Effectively #Sandy ^jl

Thomas Farley, MD, MPH

Major Flood Damage and Mold: How to Make Repairs Safely and Effectively

Flood-damaged homes from Hurricane Sandy require special attention to address mold. Mold may be a health risk to you, your family and anyone cleaning up and removing debris.

Recognize the Problem

  •  Flood-damaged homes may already have extensive mold growth. Mold needs water and a food source to grow. It comes in many different colors, may look furry, slimy or powdery, and often smells musty, stale or earthy. The type of mold does not affect how it should be cleaned.
  • Mold can grow on ceiling tiles, wood products, paint, wallpaper, carpeting, sheetrock, clothing, furniture and other materials. Aside from obvious areas where mold is visible, inspect hidden areas for discoloration, mold growth and odors, such as crawl spaces, attics, and behind wallboards or paneling. Also inspect carpet backing and padding, wallpaper, moldings (e.g., baseboards) and insulation.
  • Check your home’s exterior and under/behind siding for damage and wetness. You may have to remove the siding to allow the structure to dry out thoroughly.

Remove and Clean Damaged Building Materials

  • Remove moldy materials right away. Never fog or spray to clean up.
  • Dry out affected areas as soon as possible. Open windows, use fans if available, and remove and discard porous building materials that got wet.
  • Discard or thoroughly clean and dry water-damaged items such as rugs, furniture or clothing with detergent and water.
  • In general, discard damaged or porous building materials, including ceiling tiles, wall paneling and drywall/sheetrock. Remove wallboard at least 6 inches above the watermark along with any insulation that soaked up water or is visibly damaged or soiled.
  • Remove and discard wet wall insulation. Other insulation, such as that around old pipes and boilers, may contain asbestos. If you’re not sure if the damaged insulation contains asbestos, contact a licensed asbestos contractor. Do not remove it yourself.
  • Clean moldy, non-porous materials, such as metal, glass, and hard plastic, with water and detergent such as liquid dish detergent. Wood, furniture, concrete and other semi-porous or porous materials can be cleaned if they were not damaged and are structurally sound. Do not use full-strength bleach or mix bleach with other cleaning products. Only use diluted bleach (1-cup household bleach added to 2 gallons of water) on areas that require disinfecting.
  • Leave walls open until they dry out to prevent sealing in moisture. Do not replace walls, siding, tiles, sheetrock or other items until all building materials, such as insulation and internal wall framework, are completely dry and clean.
  • Put discarded material in sealed plastic bags and throw away with the regular trash.
  • After the repairs are done, all areas should be left dry and visibly free of mold, dust an debris. Damp areas, bubbling or peeling paint, recurring mold growth or musty odors may indicate a persistent problem.

Safety Precautions

  • Open windows and doors to air out the area as much as possible. Dust, mold and using strong cleaning products can irritate eyes, throat and lungs.
  • Keep children and pets away from areas you’re cleaning.
  • Wear an N-95 respirator and safety glasses or goggles if cleaning will produce dust. N-95s fit the face and nose and provide better protection. Wear rubber gloves and head protection.
  • Clean with detergent (e.g., dish detergent) and water. Do not use full-strength bleach or mix with other cleaning products, like ammonia. Only use diluted bleach on areas that need to be disinfected.
  • If your home has extensive damage, consider hiring a professional to clean up and repair your home
  • Do not run any electrical equipment or appliances near standing water or on wet materials. Wash your hands often with soap and water – especially before eating or drinking.
  • Clean or gently mist dry surfaces with a dilute detergent solution before removing sheetrock or other building materials to minimize dust. If available, use HEPA (highefficiency particulate air) vacuum-shrouded tools or a vacuum with a HEPA filter.

Contact your insurance provider

  • If you are applying for disaster assistance or filing an insurance claim, take photos of all damage before cleaning up and keep receipts of all repairs. For more information about submitting a claim, contact your insurance provider.
  • Contact the New York State Insurance Department, Consumer Services Bureau if you have complaints about your insurance provider: 800-342-3736.

For more information or help, visit a NYC Restoration Center near you or call 311.

Flood Cleanup and the Air in Your Home

Flood water can make the air in your home unhealthy. This is because when things get wet for more than 2 days they usually get moldy. There may also be germs and bugs in your home after a flood.

What to wear when cleaning:

  • A N-95 respirator (found at Hardware stores)
  • Goggles
  • Gloves
  • Long pants, longsleeved shirt, and
  • boots or work shoes

Clean and dry your house and everything in it.
Clean and dry hard surfaces. Throw away anything that was wet with flood water and can’t be cleaned.

Use portable generators OUTSIDE and far away from the building.
The exhaust, or fumes, from a portable generator could kill you in minutes if you
breathe it in!

NYVOST Team Credits


November 6th 2012 – November 8th 2012

NYVOST Team Lead Incident Commander

Shadow Team Lead Incident Commander

Team Lead


Surge Support by NZ VOST, New Zealand 

With Thanks to
WgtnVOST Trainees, Wellington Region Emergency Management, New Zealand

NY VOST Team Credits


October 25th 2012 to November 5th 2012

NYVOST Team Lead Incident Commander

Shadow Team Lead Incident Commander

Team Leads

Team Lead Overnight Shift


Surge Support by Humanity Road

With Thanks to

NYVOST Update: Nor’Easter

NYVOST  (New York Virtual Operations Support Team) would like to announce that its operations in support of the East Coast  Nor’Easter  which impacted the region yesterday have now concluded.  NYVOST activated to support the social media communications activities of Suffolk County Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services’ (Suffolk County FRES).  Activities included monitoring and responding to social media activity, proactively disseminating key data and helping Suffolk County FRES with critical information missions.  The Nor’easter activation followed closely on the heels of NYVOST‘s recent activation for Hurricane Sandy.

According to NYVOST Team Leader Joanna Lane, “NYVOST remains ever vigilant and available to assist Suffolk County in effectively navigating the social media maze to reach crucial populaces with relevant and vetted information during emergency situations, bridging social media and emergency management.”

NYVOST would like to thank the many Facebook, Twitter and other social media participants who helped NYVOST and Suffolk County FRES deliver important and much-needed information to the residents and businesses impacted by Hurricane Sandy and this Nor’easter.

You can stay abreast of the latest emergency management information in the area by following these social media accounts:

Suffolk County FRES Twitter:
Suffolk County FRES Facebook: County FRES
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone Twitter: @SuffExecBellone
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone Facebook:

The NY VOST Team

NYVOST Twitter:
NYVOST Facebook:

NYVOST activated 11/7 9AM in support of @SuffolkCoFRES and the people of Suffolk County #NY #Suffolk #NYwx #Noreaster ^jl

NY VOST Scaling Up in support of Suffolk County FRES for the Nor’Easter

From 9AM EST, Wednesday November 7th, we will begin live engagement on social media, supporting Suffolk County FRES (Fire Rescue and Emergency Services). Please follow and share these accounts:

NYVOST Twitter:
NYVOST Facebook:

Suffolk County FRES Twitter:
Suffolk County FRES Facebook: County FRES

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone Twitter: @SuffExecBellone
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone Facebook:

For additional sources of information, subscribe to our #Sandy / #Noreaster RT Twitter list.

Joanna Lane
NY VOST Team Leader

NY VOST Scaling Back

NY VOST Scaling Back

On day 9 of operations, our volunteers need respite. NYVOST is scaling back operations. From midnight tonight EDT, Friday November 2nd, we have transitioned from live engagement on social media 24/7, to assisting Suffolk County FRES with critical information only and monitoring NYVOST interactions. For additional #Sandy information, please subscribe to our Sandy RT Twitter list.

We will continue to monitor developing weather conditions that may adversely impact this area in the near future. In the meantime, Suffolk County FRES are doing an excellent job with Facebook and Twitter, please follow them.

If activated for future need, NYVOST will use its best endeavors to be there.

I am so proud of this team, and the agency that trusted us. We rocked the VOST!

Joanna Lane
Team Leader County FRES

NY VOST Changing with the times #Sandy #LI

As of Thursday November 1st, NY VOST will no longer be posting live updates 24/7 to this blog.

We are adjusting our social media strategy in response to conditions on the ground in Suffolk County, which would indicate a greater need for simplified tweets that do not rely on links and apps to access information, such as the address of places offering free food, transportation and communications updates, tips for conserving fuel etc.

As such, this blog is now transitioning to aggregated content. We will endeavor to post morning and evening updates, as well as time sensitive information, as and when it presents itself and team resources allow.

For live updates, please connect with us on twitter @NYVOST and Facebook.