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Earthquakes, Wind & Moisture – the Property Owners’ Plagues

Recent weather related events on the US Eastern Seaboard might be giving property owners cause to believe that Mother Nature’s out to make their lives miserable. An earthquake a week or so ago jiggles the crust and the structures set therein, then Hurricane Irene splashes several inches of rain into all the new (and old) cracks and crevices in the very same buildings. It’s a good bet that there’s moisture in some new places that’s likely making contact with some materials that fungi love (when wet). It’s probably a good time to think about flood water, water damage restoration, and mold mitigation.

The first step is dealing with the flood water. The National Association for Moisture Management (NAMM) has a piece called Flood Victim’s Advice as does the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) called “Reentering Your Flooded Home” and “Protect Yourself From Mold”.

Second, deal with water damage. Our colleague Anthony DeMiglio, mold specialist and certified mold assessment consultant extraordinaire, offers the following suggestions, “Water damage restoration is the process of assessing adverse environmental conditions related to flooding or water intrusion, developing an action plan and overseeing drying efforts to limit unnecessary removal costs or further damage”. An assessment is recommended that should include measurements of relative humidity, dew point and saturation point and could include infrared thermal imaging scan to identify the extent of damage. A drying plan is then developed, based on results of these measurements and work plans prepared to bring the property back to a pre-flood condition. DeMiglio concludes that “ the basic goals of this process are to stop the damage to contents and structure, extract the maximum amount of water and debris and dry out everything quickly to help limit property damage and mold/bacteria growth”.

Mold is a by-product of water damage that can contaminate building materials 24 hours after flooding. The New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene and USEPA offer excellent guidance for addressing mold issues. Both recommend bringing in trained professionals for investigation and remediation when the extent of contamination exceeds a certain amount. EEA offers Texas accredited mold assessment technician, mold assessment consultant, mold remediation worker and mold remediation supervisor certification training. UNYSE offers investigation and remediation management services.

It’s a fact that most building materials left wet will harbor mold growth. It may take a while before you notice it, but by then it’s likely a serious situation. We expect to see demand for mold and environmental hazard related services increase in the next few weeks. Expect an update late September.