Cleaning up after a hurricane – How to take care of your home after a storm!
It’s still September, and this year has already produced a record-breaking hurricane season! As we head into the remainder of storm season, it’s important to have a plan in place for cleaning up after a storm sweeps through. By taking inventory early, you can prepare your home and your family for potential disasters — and mitigate the risk of property loss.
How do I clean up after a hurricane?
After a storm, the most important thing to consider is your family’s safety. When you’re getting ready to tackle the cleanup process, start by taking stock of any damage. Do a full walk-around of your home, taking pictures of any structural damage, leaks, missing roof tiles, or cracks. (You’ll need these for your insurance company!) Next, make a list of what has to be done. This will help you identify the biggest “problem areas” to take care of first, as well as give you a roadmap for tackling the larger project.
It’s such a big task — how do I get started?
Cleaning up after a hurricane can feel like a massive, insurmountable task. You can make it easier by divvying up the larger project into smaller, more manageable chunks. To do this, prioritize your cleanup projects. For example, if your area flooded, the most important step is to dry out as much as possible. Take an “inside-out” approach to cleaning. Make your first priority airing out your home, setting up fans to dry out as much as possible, and getting rid of any items that can’t be dried quickly or have been contaminated by floodwaters or sewage (for example, mattresses, carpets, stuffed animals, and insulation).
If your things are dry, an “outside-in” cleanup might be most beneficial for you. Start with the areas outside of your home, removing any debris from your yard and outdoor spaces, then move inside as your projects get smaller and more manageable.
Are there dangers to be aware of?
Yes! After a hurricane, there can be many unseen dangers in a flooded or damaged house. For example, gas leaks and electric shocks are common risks after a hurricane. Sometimes, after a big storm, our immediate urge is to run around the house checking the lights and appliances to see if they all work. In risky situations, this can result in a severe electric shock from wet wires or cables that have been knocked loose. In less serious situations, turning on so many appliances at once can overload your circuit breakers and put you back at square one.
As you’re working on cleanup, keep an eye out for loose wires or smoke, and pay attention to any weird smells you notice — these could be signs of a gas leak or other dangers. Above all, put your safety first!
What’s worth saving and what should I throw out?
In general, most North Florida homes are built to survive hurricanes. However, more severe storms and flooding can get water past your home’s built-in protections. Following a hurricane, the rule of thumb is to throw out anything soaked that can’t be dried quickly. This can mean expensive items like mattresses and furniture, but it can also mean things you wouldn’t usually think of, like soaked insulation and drywall.
Keep items that can be dried out in the sun or cleaned professionally. Throw out anything that’s been soaking for more than a few hours, especially if it’s something you come in contact with daily, like a mattress or a couch.
Yuck — my sewer backed up. What do I do?
First, start by assessing the damage. What’s been soaking in floodwaters, and what stayed out of trouble? Even if you have a sentimental or financial attachment to your belongings, it’s important to get rid of wet items and anything that’s been contaminated by floodwaters or sewage. This is because disease-causing bacteria, mold, and mildew can collect in items that have been damaged by a hurricane, and cause a greater risk to you and your family’s health.
If sewage or floodwaters backed up into your outdoor spaces, like your pool or patio, it’s a good idea to schedule a cleaning right away. Pressure washing (or soft washing, depending on the materials of your outdoor spaces) is the best way to remove scum, mold, mildew, and harmful bacteria that may be setting up shop in the wake of hurricane floodwaters. To protect your health, make sure you invest in a top-quality cleaning as soon as possible!
This is a lot of work! Can I get help?
Of course! For exterior cleanup, we’re here to help. At Diamond Power Washing & Maintenance, we know how much better it feels to have a clean home after a storm sweeps through. For pressure washing and soft washing services, give us a call at (904) 747-4DPW (4379). We’ll help you restore your home to its pre-storm sparkle!