The most important step is to determine the building is safe and structurally sound before entering. In typical flood damaged areas, local and/or state officials may be on the scene to assist in this task. Absence of these services, your insurer may be able to assist. Safety in these situations is of paramount concern.
Next, contact your insurance company to initiate a claim. Insurance adjusters can be a critical component to the timely and proper restoration of your property. Recognize that in disaster areas these people are overwhelmed with claims and may personally be affected by the same situations. Be sure to document all of your contact with both your insurer and local officials who may provide assistance.
As soon as reasonable, take photographs of the structure (inside and out) and make a list and photograph your personal belongings before any cleanup work is started. This will go a long way in supporting your insurance claim.
The next best step is to call a disaster restoration contractor. This is typically covered by your insurer, but check your policy. Restoration contractors are an invaluable asset. Their advice and speed of work will go a long way to preventing mold growth, eliminating mold growth and preventing mold regrowth. Make sure they are properly trained, licensed and insured.
In absence of or prior to the restoration contractor’s arrival start with the following steps:
Remove as much of the standing water from the building using pumps and/or shop vacs. Use hand pumps and/or buckets if you have no power. If mud or other debris is present remove this as well. Often sanitary sewers overflow during flooding and this can bring in bacteria laden water and debris, so proper protective gear may be needed. No real cleanup work can begin until the water is gone.
If weather permits, open all windows and doors to allow the building to air out. Set up fans, heaters and dehumidifiers in the wettest of areas to aid in the drying process as soon as possible. Continue to dry the building materials until they return to a stable state. The key to this process is to keep the air moving 24/7.
DO NOT add an excessive amount of heat, this can bring mold growth faster than typical and may cause damage to building materials by drying the material to quickly.
Remove wet belongings to a place where they can be cleaned & dried quickly.
Remove dry belongings to a place where they won’t get wet / contaminated during cleanup activities.
Remove soaked and damaged materials such as carpeting, paneling, ceiling tile, drywall and insulation as soon as reasonable. These materials will begin to grow mold within days, so removal is time critical.
Clean and disinfect all flood effected surfaces with a cleaning agent (Anabec's Advanced Cleaning Solution) followed by a disinfectant (Anabec's anaSPHERE) designed for mold remediation. This will help prevent mold from taking hold of your building materials.
DO NOT USE BLEACH. At no point should you apply chlorine bleach to any porous building material, this will give the initial appearance of having eliminated the risk, but the mold will return.
If mother nature was kind following your flood, if you worked fast and if you were lucky you may not have mold growth on your remaining building materials. If you do please call a professional contractor. Better yet call an Anabec Qualified Contractor.