Apres le Deluge, Mold


With another storm coming, you may want to print this one out.

On Monday night, at a seminar at Graffiti Community Ministries, about 100 people – including a man whose basement was flooded with ten feet of water – learned how to stave off mold.

“We’ve been here 26 years, and I’ve never had my basement flooded,” said Taylor Field, a pastor at the Baptist church on East Seventh Street, as he introduced Randy Creamer, an Atlanta-based contractor with Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief. Of course, that all changed last week.

Among locals who attended the seminar was Anne Edris, owner of East Village Bed & Coffee on Avenue C. She expressed concern about mold, and about her basement, which completely filled with water during Sandy. “Our basement is a mud pit,” said Ms. Edris, whose first floor was also submerged in eight inches of water.  She was grateful for the information, and asked the church for more help.

The next day, volunteers from the Disaster Relief group came by her bed and breakfast and told her mold was spreading, and that they could smell it.  The group doesn’t usually work with businesses, but since she also lives there, they agreed to “shovel mud” for free.

Here’s what do if your home gets flooded, per Mr. Creamer.

  • Empty the flooded area of water, mud, and dirt.
  • Clear out personal items. “If it was in the water, it was contaminated by the water,” Mr. Creamer said. Anything with foam in it, mattresses, cloth, material, and upholstery cannot be salvaged. Same with “electronics, computers, speakers, anything with a cord attached.”
  • Remove the affected area of the wall, and the foot or two above it. “When you start taking your walls out, think rebuild – don’t put it back,” said Mr. Creamer. “If you had two-and-a-half feet of water, you’re going to need to take out four feet of your wall out.”
  • Sweep, vacuum, and then power-wash the floor, and work downward to the basement.  Also use wet vacuums, mops, squeegees, and brooms to get rid of the water.
  • Use fans and dehumidifiers for the drying process. Then disinfect the area, and allow it to dry again before repairs.

Other advice:

  • Protect yourself with a disposable respirator such as N95, not a dust mask, and wear gloves and boots, both rubber if it’s wet.
  • If necessary, use eye protection, goggles or safety glasses, as well as a hard hat.
  • Avoid using only fans to dry out damaged walls after flooding, even though the water may have receded in a few hours. “The greatest risk and danger to you are the things you can’t see,” said Mr. Creamer.  Odors and coughing are the first indicators of a mold issue.
  • Flooring, linoleum or vinyl will have to come up. “Once it warps it will buck and not go back into place,” he said.
  • Use EPA-registered disinfectants like ShockWave. “What will not work is Clorox. We’ve stopped using bleach,” he said, “It does not work on porous surfaces.”
  • The colder temperatures of fall are a bonus, since mold thrives in 60-degree heat with humidity.

Approximately 700 people from Mr. Creamer’s organization, some of whom are sleeping in their vehicles, are in affected areas of New York and New Jersey to help out. Monday’s lecture will be repeated this week on Staten Island and Long Island.