With the rehabilitation and renovation of flood-affected homes underway, officials are urging residents caution and safety when it comes to dealing with potential mold.
“The first thing a home or business owner must consider is safety,” Doug Gillespie, of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, said. “Re-entering your home after a flood can be quite dangerous. Then, if you can enter your home and there is mold present, it can affect your health.”
Exposure to damp and moldy environments can potentially cause a variety of health effects.
Molds can cause nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, coughing or wheezing, eye irritation, and — in some cases — skin irritation.
People with mold allergies may have more severe reactions. Immune-compromised people and people with chronic lung illnesses, such as obstructive lung disease, may get serious infections in their lungs when they are exposed to mold. These people should stay away from areas that are likely to have mold.
According to the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency, property owners who were not able to dry homes (including furniture and other items) within 24-48 hours of flooding should assume they have mold growth.
Those in Fremont with flood-affected homes are reminded that the City of Fremont’s damage determinations on homes within the flood plain which include the placarding of homes with green, yellow and red placards does not account for potential mold.
“If your home is green or yellow that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t shock proof your home and try to mitigate mold,” City Administrator Brian Newton said. “We are hearing people are having health issues or getting sick because they have not treated their homes for mold.”
According to Newton, the city does not have the capability to do mold testing and inspections and residents are encouraged to reach out to a mold remediation professional help address potential mold issues within homes and businesses.
Residents whose homes were affected by flooding should completely dry everything, clean up any mold, and ensure they don’t continue to have a moisture problem.
NEMA also recommends that property owners contact their insurance company and take photos of the home and belongings before starting cleanup activities.
Drying your home and removing water-damaged items is the most important step for preventing mold damage states information released by NEMA.
Mold due to floods can be extensive and may require a mold remediation professional to tackle the job.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that trained mold remediation professionals do the mold cleanup if mold growth covers as little as a 10-foot- by 10-foot area.