Flood Recovery Tips for the Home

June 26, 2024, 4:16 pm | Kiley Biedenfeld, Kris Kohl

Kris KohlSTORM LAKE, Iowa – Very heavy rains have caused record flooding in Northwest Iowa this June.

“As our hearts go out to those who have lost so much in a short time, we also want to share an overview of the steps to take for initial recovery,” says Kris Kohl, ag engineering specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

Kohl recommends taking the following steps to ensure safety when removing water from flooded buildings and checking for structural damage.

First, turn off the power and gas to prevent shock and fires. Use a portable generator to provide electricity for cleanup.

Take pictures to document the damage and contact your insurance company to start the claims process. Follow their guidance on documentation and repairs.

For water removal:

  • Pumps remove gallons per minute and will be the main way of starting the process. Be careful not to pump more than 2 feet at a time as the saturated soil acts like wet concrete and adds about 3 times the force on basement walls that will cause them to cave in if done too fast. Turn off the pump and wait to see how fast the water seeps back into the basement from the saturated soil. If the rebound is over 3 inches in 1 hour, take caution because the water pressure difference will buckle longer walls and may cause long-term foundation damage that is very costly to repair. 
  • Wet-dry shop vacuums will remove gallons per hour and are the next tool to use after the sump pumps run dry. Be sure to keep the cords dry, especially at the joints.
  • Open windows and use fans followed with dehumidifiers to remove pints per day. These are the final phase in water removal.

Next, for your safety, check for structural damage like movement, cracks in ceilings, floors, walls and foundations. Water damaged plywood will ripple and delaminate, and oriented strand board may be spongy after the water is gone,” Kohl said.

Remove all damaged items from the flooded area, and clean and disinfect with bleach items that can be salvaged.

The next phase is to remove all building materials that will grow mold like wallboard, plywood and wall and floor coverings.

For more information, visit ISU Extension and Outreach’s Disaster Recovery webpage, https://www.extension.iastate.edu/disasterrecovery/flooding, or contact your ISU Extension and Outreach county office.

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