Friday, February 10, 2017

When Nature Wreaks Havoc – How To Prepare For, Survive and Recover From a Flood

If someone were to ask you to name a few uses for water, you would run out of fingers before you got halfway through the uses.

Our bodies are 60% water. How is that for starters? Science tells us that the body can go for days, weeks even, without food but will only last three days without water.

Now, the ocean in its vast glory is breathtaking in a humbling way and has been home to thousands of species. The beach makes a perfect place to relax and get away from the madness of life as we know it. Reward to self, no?

Sure, but hell has no fury like Mother Nature scorned. When she gets out of control, no one is spared her wrath, not even the people that rely on her for their survival.

When Nature Wreaks Havoc

Some of the worst disasters that hit Earth have been caused by water, and we will list a handful of them.

hurricane storm

Hurricane storm nearing the shore

The Sea Islands Hurricane (August 1893)

America is no stranger to hurricanes, and this particular one is only one of the deadliest. It struck near Savannah, Georgia, and left approximately 2,000 people dead. All the signs for a massive landfall were there that August, starting with heavy winds that are the onset of the storm. Some people heeded the warnings and left, while others thought they would wait it out. In those days, modern science had not made headway as it has now, and it was quite hard to give facts about the storm or to evacuate effectively.

The Galveston Hurricane (September 1990)

Before that fateful September day in 1900, Galveston was a city to watch with so much promise in trade and commerce. The storm that hit the town left 6,000 to 12,000 people dead, making it one of the worst in the history of mankind.

The storm landed on 8th September, falling at 145mph. In only a day, over 3,600 homes were destroyed by water, and the fate of Galveston was sealed. Trade was rerouted to Houston as the city was left to restructure and try to regain its former glory. 15 years later, another storm hit the city, but this time they were better prepared, including building a seawall and raising the city 15 feet above its former elevation. Only 53 lives were lost.

Hurricane Donna (September 1960)

Hurricane Donna almost brought Florida to its knees in the 1960s. Donna developed in Cape Verde, the wind blowing at a pace of 20MPH, which quickly accelerated to 145MPH at the time she reached hurricane level. Fatalities were reported in parts of the world where the storm reached, including a plane coming from Senegal that killed all 63 souls on board.

Donna made as though to relent but then came crashing into Florida at a speed of 130MPH, which killed 13 people and destroyed 5,200 homes.

Hurricane Andrew (Aug 1992)

Hurricane Andrew furiously flattened homes in South Florida, Miami, and Louisiana. This storm is certainly the most destructive, with the wind blowing at 165MPH and sparing nothing that it found in its wake. Even though this was in August 1992 and the US was better equipped to handle natural disasters, nothing stopped Andrew from claiming 65 lives, destroying 25,000 homes, and severely damaging 100,000 others.


Devastation after a hurricane hit the region

Hurricane Ivan (September 2004)

The winds were not as strong at first, relegating this hurricane to Category 3, but it quickly escalated to Category 5. Ivan killed 54 people in the US and caused massive damage to homes.

Hurricane Katrina (August 2005)

This storm is probably the most popular in recent times owing to the destruction it caused. The wind blew at 175MPH, and over 1,800 lives were lost. Additionally, 90% of the property at the coastline was destroyed, and there were oil spills that caused severe destruction to the environment. Some survivors still shudder at the memory of Katrina

Hurricane Ike (September 2008)

Ike furiously tore through Cuba and Texas 15 days, giving false signs of relenting but picking up speed each time. It caused 113 direct and indirect deaths, caused businesses to stand still in several parts of the country and destroyed hundreds of homes.

The Louisiana Floods

There have been many others including the Louisiana floods that led to the destruction of over 40,000 homes. It was noted at that point that most homeowners had not insured their homes against natural disasters, which led them to lose their investments.


A city immersed in water during floods

How Do You Protect Yourself from Water Damage?

Some areas are more prone to water damage than others, and so the first thing would be to check your location. 1 Do you live near the coastline or in an area that is likely to be affected by a tropical storm? If you do:

  • Put together a survival kit. You will need enough water and food to get you through the first three critical days. Given the response rate, statistics show that help will be on its way before the third day.
  • You want to be sure you have a place to go during an evacuation. Storms do not just happen, but they give prior warning within which time you should gather every family member and head to your designated safety house.
  • Leave at the earliest time possible. We are human, and so it is only natural to think that the storm will relent before it gets to your area. We hope it does, but shouldn’t you leave and find out later from a safe ground?
  • Most people lose their homes in the storm and are never compensated. Why is that? They were not insured in the first place. Insure your house and other valuable assets against natural disasters especially if you live in areas where those disasters are likely to hit.

Not all storms will hit with the intensity of Katrina. Some floods can be mitigated by regularly updating your home. Ensure your home’s roof is in the best condition, have all power outlets well above ground, and keep chemicals and poisons beyond the reach of floodwater.

It would be prudent to have a room in the house where you can hide in during the ordeal. In this room is where your kit and supplies should be. The most important point in all this is building your house in a way that water cannot cause extensive damage if it gets through. If you bought an already built house, then you could have experts come in and spruce it up to get it ready for storms.

Rebuilding After A Storm

Well, even the best-laid plans fail, and so your attempts to keep your home safe could fall flat. No problem if they do. The brighter side of the ordeal is that you and your loved ones are safe and certainly wiser. Once your mind is settled and out of its shell, you will need to start thinking about restoration and rebuilding.



A town destroyed after a hurricane hit the city

At this point, only an expert will salvage what’s left of your home after a flood or natural disaster. The following is an overview of how serious water damage can be, classified into three broad categories.

Category 1 Water: This group does not pose much of a threat. It is typical of the damage you get from busted pipes and sink overflows. The water is clean and it will not threaten any life.

Category 2 Water: Also known as gray water, this group poses a threat to humans if it comes into contact with skin. It may contain chemicals, biological contaminants, or other. You mostly get this damage from a busted toilet or water from the washing machine. If it stays stagnant for too long, gray water is moved to category three.

Category 3 Water: Black water looks grossly unsanitary even from a distance. This water is almost dangerous to human beings because it leads to diseases and discomfort at first contact. Overflow from rivers, sewage, water that originates from beyond the toilet trap, and seawater are categorized here.

Restoring Sanity

After the storm has abated and river levels have gone back to normal, normalcy resumes but not without damage control. You will need an expert to determine the degree of damage done by the water so that they can recommend the best way of reclaiming your house.

Restoration will depend on the class of destruction.

Class 1 is the least severe, with only a little water absorbed into the carpet and other household goods. Class 2 takes it a notch higher than one. Water would have seeped into the cushions, soaked the carpet, and extended to the entire room. Class 3 water would be coming from overhead, and so possibly ruined entire rooms. Everything from the carpets to the cushions and the walls would be soaking wet. Class 4 is a special case because it involves surfaces with low permeability and so the drying technique used is unique to these surfaces.

If yours was a category one problem, the experts would only need to evaporate the water in a way that will restore your carpet to its previous condition. However, if the carpet has soaked in this water for over 48 hours, it will be quite challenging restoring it. You may as well dump it and get a new one.

Lessons We Can Take From History

Hurricanes and floods have been a part of our history, and truth be told, they are not going away anytime soon. Not to sound like a prophet of doom, but man has not been kind to nature. One of the most important things you can do is insure your house against water damage. You do not have to live in hurricane-prone areas to take out this cover. A small amount of money per month could save you from being homeless.

If you are one of the victims of water damage, do not wait until mold forms to call for help. Walls soak in a lot of water fast. You may not notice from the get-go, but the extent could be larger than you think. Having a professional determine the amount of water soaked is the fastest way to restore the integrity of your home.

Hazards Associated With Water Damage

  • Diseases

A damp room is not only totally uncomfortable but also a breeding ground for molds and fungi. Now, no conclusive studies show exactly how long mold takes to grow on damp surfaces, but the consensus is that two or three days of dampness will cause mold growth.

Because mold grows and feeds on dead organic matter, wood, which is the popular building material in the US, it could harbor a host of diseases if not treated immediately. 2 Never-ending allergies, eye irritation, irritation of the nose and lungs, and even bronchial asthma are attributed to inhalation of contaminated air. Some of these symptoms will take time to show while they do intensive internal damage.

  • Asset Degradation

Apart from the allergies, mold destroys everything that it grows on. It will literally eat your furniture until nothing much is left. It grows silently, producing tiny spores that you cannot see with your naked eye. The damage caused eventually will be irreversible, as your furniture will spot unsightly grayish matter and you will have no choice but to throw it away.

Stay Safe, Let An Expert Handle It

There is no other solution for restoring your home than through hiring an expert at water restoration to clean the mess. Seemingly small matters as a sink overflow that soaks the carpet could be the cause of your allergies for a long time.

Experts say that some mold does not die even after the usual clean up. It continues to thrive for an unknown period, and it will certainly become a health hazard. 3 Walls hardly show dampness unless there was water involved. Concrete and plastered walls are even worse for their ability to hide moisture, which is why they call for a high level of expertise to suck it all out.

Have the house looked into as soon as the disaster happens to recover a part or all of it. If it is beyond repair, your insurance company could help you get back to your feet.





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