Flooding is one of the most common natural disasters to occur in Minnesota, despite the closest large body of water being a lake. Due to an abundance of snow in the winter seasons, and floodplains scattered across the state, Minnesotans should keep a preparedness plan in place in case their home or business is struck by catastrophe.
Did you know that since 2000, precipitation (snow or rain) in Minnesota that exceeds six inches occurs four times as often than in the previous 30 years, and rainfall events of three inches or more has increased by 65%. Additionally, standard homeowners insurance doesn’t necessarily cover flood damage without an additional policy. So if you are one of the thousands of residents that live in a city with a floodplain such as Austin or Newport or Rochester, we’ve put together some best practices to deal with water damage in your home from a flood.
If you are dealing with excessive water damage in your home, there is one focal point that you should prioritize your time and money towards above all others: the structural elements (roof, foundation, floors, and support beams). The bones of most homes are typically made of wood and drywall, which has the tendency to absorb water if exposed for a prolonged period of time. If wood absorbs too much water, it will warp and compromise the foundational integrity of your home.
Additionally, if there is standing water in the basement or attic, it can do the same type of damage to your foundation, rendering it unsafe in the long term. The sooner you are able to react to flood damage in your home by getting the water out, and beginning to gut and renovate, the less long-term damage you will face.
The Danger of Mold
When people think about the dangers of flooding, understandable they think about the damage standing water can do to the floors, home accessories (cabinets, appliances, etc.), and the potential ruin of intimate personal items like scrapbooks, electronics, and other personal tokens. But did you know perhaps the biggest prolonged risk from flood damage is the potential to grow mold within hours of the damage occurring.
The level of hazard that standing water can cause in your home is based on the ‘type’ or ‘category’ of water that is standing in your basement or home. There are three categories of water.
● Category 1: This water is clean and sanitary. It comes from many different sources in your home like faucets, garden hoses, toilets, and other outlets. Category one water is clean to drink for both people and pets, but standing water can still give way to mold growth in as little as 1-2 days.
● Category 2: Also referred to as ‘Gray Water’, water becomes category 2 after it has been contaminated from appliance use such as dishwashers, showers, sinks, and washing machines. While this water isn’t contaminated by any feces, it is still unsafe to consume and could cause illness.
● Category 3: This is the most dangerous form of water contamination and is also commonly referred to as ‘black water’. This is the type of water that is typically the result of natural disasters and is a breeding ground for bacteria or other harmful pathogens. The professional experts claim that, due to the unsafe nature, category three water exposure to home materials such as drywall or carpets makes them unsalvageable.
You can learn more about mold in our Homeowner Resources under the Homeowner Safety section.
Calling the Professionals
Experts recommend if you have category three water in your home for longer than 24 hours, the risk of potential exposure is not worth trying to take any renovated measures yourself. Instead you should call restoration pros immediately and work with them to mitigate damage. Most home restoration services have a turnaround time as short as 12-24 hours and can begin extraction and salvation on site. However, if you’re within the window, there are mitigating steps you can take before the experts arrive to reduce long-term damage.
Water mitigation is a process that reduces damage from a leaking roof or natural disaster by mopping or vacuuming the standing water out. Additionally they recommend removing items that absorb large swathes of water like rugs, clothes, or curtains/drapes. Before you enter a room with standing water, it is imperative that you turn off electricity so you do not experience injury or death.
Once the professionals arrive, the process of diagnosis and repair begins. Experts will address all of the listed items above: dry wall, foundational beams, basement, carpet, roof, etc. Most restoration services will also help you salvage personal items and discard with things that have been ruined beyond repair.
If you are curious what your risk level is, or to know if you live in one of the many flood zones in Minnesota, check out the FEMA flood map. If you are at risk, you should begin working with your home insurance agent to develop a preventative plan, and getting a policy in place. Additionally, you should already have a feel for the service you might contact if disaster strikes. As the old proverb states, you can never be too prepared.
David Cruz is a freelance author for CastleBri. David has been a writer for five years covering a vast array of topics and themes such as home improvement, real estate, personal finance, and health and wellness. If you’d like to contact David about a freelance opportunity, you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org