Misconceptions About Floods & Flood Cleanup December 5, 2016 – Posted in: Blog, Industrial – Tags: Flooding Facts
Even though flooding is a major and recurring concern for many citizens throughout the United States, accurate information about floods can be hard to come by, as misinformation and misconceptions tend to be prominent in media outlets.
Whether you are a homeowner or a water damage restoration professional, knowing the facts about flooding and flood cleanup is important to you prepare for future flood possibilities and understand the risk of flooding and the process of property restoration after a flood.
If you are a water damage restoration professional, you know the ins and outs of flooding and flood cleanup. So why the review? Simply, because your job is also about communication.
Helping property owners understand flood damage— and that includes the ability to describe the process and dispel some of the misconceptions they may be laboring under.
Major Misconceptions and Facts About Floods
Natural disasters are a potential concern for most, if not all, American citizens, to one extent or another. And from surging tropical storms to heavy rain and snow runoff, water plays a role in most of them. In fact, floods are the most common type of natural disaster, with wildfires coming in as a close second.
Beyond the obvious physical damage that accompanies water intrusion in homes and businesses, floodwaters can carry various types of contaminants and organisms, such as E. coli, the Hepatitis A virus, tetanus, typhoid, Shigella and Salmonella. Clearly, there’s much more to flooding and flood damage than just the leftover moisture and standing water.
However, dealing with the complex and often devastating effects of flooding requires more than just a knowledge of the process — it also requires a knowledge of the misinformation circulating in the public about disasters of this type.
As a contractor in this industry, your clients trust you to get the job done well and quickly, but also to communicate with them effectively and reassure them that all is not lost. That starts with dispelling some of the myths about floods and the work you do.
Here are some of the most common myths about floods and flood damage, along with some facts to you answer them.
Myth #1: Only Low-Lying Areas Are at Risk for Flooding
This may be the most persistent — as well as the most dangerous — misconception about floods and flood cleanup.
Simply put, flooding can affect just about anybody, regardless of geographical location or topography. All 50 states in America are subjected to flooding to one degree or another.
As you walk or drive around the country or even just your own community, you likely take notice of the dips, rises and hills. It can be tempting to believe that only homes or commercial properties sitting at the bottom of hills or in valleys are in danger of being flooded, but even higher elevations can experience flooding — sometimes catastrophic flooding — if the conditions are just right.
Consider this: 20 percent of flood insurance claims submitted to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) come from property owners located in “moderate-risk” and “low-risk” areas of the country.
The flood maps that to determine risk in a particular area change on a regular basis, but the fact remains – Whether you live or work in high or low-elevation areas, understanding your risk of flooding is more complicated than just your elevation.
Myth #2: Flooding Only Happens After Heavy Rains
The truth is, flooding can result from any number of factors, or combination of factors. In addition to heavy rains, flooding may also come about due to melting ice and snowmelt runoff, mudflows, the influence of new construction on runoff patterns and much more. It is a long list of both natural and artificial causes.
This is part of the reason why myth #1 above is false. While houses in low-lying parts of the country are more susceptible to flooding risk from falling rains, properties in higher elevations are equally susceptible to some of the other causes of flooding, including ice and snow runoff and disruptive new construction projects.
Myth #3: Flooding Isn’t That Common
What each of these myths has in common so far is that flooding and its risk factors are both more widespread, and more serious, than many people realize.
Consider that 90% of all US natural disasters involve some sort of flooding. Between the years of 2011 and 2015, the average flood insurance claim was about $46,000, and from 2006 through 2015, the country averaged a total flood insurance payout of $1.9 billion.
Flooding is not just common — it’s a regular occurrence. It is also a big business for restoration professionals that depend on speedy and decisive results whenever the worst should happen.
This is a major myth, as harmful as it is easily dispelled. But it’s also responsible for some significant homeowner oversight.
You’re likely aware that, while flood insurance isn’t a required purchase for homeowners at the federal level, financial vulnerability to flood and its ravaging effects are not just a problem for people living on the coast or in low-lying areas. That means many people who should be purchasing flood insurance have not done so since they are not in a “traditional” high-risk area.
And consider this: While you might disagree on the course to be followed in response, climate change is happening and bringing with it more unpredictable weather than we’ve seen in previous years.
Therefore, while flooding is already both more common and more destructive than we may have thought, it is also likely to become more frequent as the climate continues to change.
Myth #4: Restoration Is Complete Once Surfaces Are Dry
Some of the damage caused by flooding is obvious, such as the destruction of personal and company property, damaged walls and flooring and more. These are, however, only the most superficial symptoms of massive flood damage and water intrusion.
For a fully effective and long-lasting property restoration, it is not enough to just dry the visible surfaces — the materials between and beneath need especially careful attention.
If water intrusion goes unaddressed in interior structures and porous materials are not dried thoroughly, this creates an ideal breeding ground for a variety of mold species.
Besides being unsightly and off-putting in a business setting, the proliferation of mold can also cause extensive health hazards as the colonies grow and flourish in the moisture.
Moreover, certain members of the population may be even more susceptible than others to the health problems mold growth can cause, including people over 60 years of age or who are recovering from surgery, pregnant women, patients undergoing chemotherapy or who are on other prescription drugs, and small children under the age of two.
Just like you cannot predict the exact outcome of a storm or full-blown flood, you also cannot know who might come into contact with a mold-contaminated surface or object.
To be more specific about the dangers we are talking about, understand that water intrusion can come from many different sources.
Greywater, also called sullage, refers to water from sinks, baths, showers, dishwashers and washing machines. This type of water contains no fecal contaminants, but it still poses a health threat. It can be handled relatively straightforwardly with low-sodium and non-toxic soaps.
Blackwater, on the other hand, is a much more serious concern if it is believed to have infiltrated the property in question. Blackwater comes from flushed toilets, and as a result, contains pathogens and high quantities of other harmful organic materials.
If you are dealing with a difficult client who claims to be satisfied with the superficial drying of surface materials, remind them that contamination of this type requires strict adherence to professional water damage restoration guidelines, including ANSI/IICRC S500.
If they continue to push back against doing more intensive labor to ameliorate the problem for good, remind your clients that they’re talking about either their home or their place of business — a location that they expect to faithfully serve them for many more years.
Cutting corners isn’t just potentially illegal — it also poses a long-term risk to the safety and usefulness of their property.
Myth #5: It Can’t Flood During a Drought
Although weather patterns seem to be growing more unpredictable generally, certain parts of the country will always be more susceptible to drought conditions than others.
And in these areas, it can be tempting to assume dry conditions preclude the possibility of flooding. This is another dangerous myth — and it is not exclusive to the United States.
Australia is keen to remind residents that their landlocked country experiences some of the most variable rainfall conditions anywhere on earth — not unlike our own west and mid-west states. In Australia, during a major drought in 1998, Melbourne still experienced some of the most intense flooding conditions in its long history.
The same goes for California, which has seen an unlikely and extremely dangerous combination of forest fires, droughts and flooding over the last many months.
Clearly, just as elevation is a poor indicator of flood risk, day-to-day weather conditions, rainfall patterns and other environmental factors are as well.
Myth #6: Time Is a Useful Indicator of Flood Risk
We have all heard the phrase “hundred-year flood” thrown around in the days leading up to and following major flood events, but is there any truth to this idea? Is the time since the last flood a useful indicator of an area’s current flood risk?
In a word — “no.” Your risk for experiencing a flood does not decrease over time since weather and climate patterns do not adhere to any convenient schedules.
Many property owners and house hunters lull themselves into a false sense of security when they visit potential new properties and find relief in what the previous owners tell them — “We haven’t seen a flood here since ’47!” — or something similar.
They are right to treat this as welcome news, but it could be extremely costly to take that as permission to let your guard down.
Myth #7: If You Live in a High-Risk Area, You Cannot Buy Flood Insurance
This is another dangerous myth that often prevents property owners from purchasing the coverage they need. For whatever reason, it is all too commonly believed that residents of high-risk flood areas are not allowed to purchase flood insurance — like the equivalent of a “pre-existing condition” clause in a healthcare plan. This could not be further from the truth.
Unless you live in a non-participating community — which refers to areas that do not follow NFIP floodplain management guidelines — you can almost certainly purchase flood insurance from the National Flood Insurance Program, no matter where you live or how long you’ve been there. In many cases, it can even be added to an existing household insurance policy, like homeowner’s insurance, renter’s insurance or automobile coverage.
The only caveat worth mentioning here is the 30-day waiting period between the receipt of your insurance application and the effective start date of your coverage.
For this reason, it’s hugely important to be proactive rather than reactive — if you apply for coverage and your property is flooded just six days later, you may be completely out of luck.
Myth #8: You Can Clean up Flood Water and Subsequent Damage on Your Own
The eighth and final flooding myth we wanted to tackle here involves the do-it-yourself approach to flood cleanup. Plenty of business owners might feel they have a grasp of the DIY basics or even a more well-rounded knowledge of building materials and construction techniques. But even if that’s the case, it can be extremely hazardous for them to attempt flood water cleanup on their own.
In addition to some of the factors we’ve already discussed, including the likely presence of bacteria and other pathogens, there are other dangers in play as well. If the flooding was severe enough, re-entering a property with standing water might pose an electrical risk, expose you to potential gas leaks and generally put you in harm’s way.
Only professional, certified and trained flood damage contractors have the experience and the presence of mind to avoid each and every potential pitfall before getting to work on the cleanup itself.
In other words, as a contractor, you know to turn off power at the fuse box, secure or report any gas leaks and check for structural damage that could lead to a collapse — but the property owner may not, and they may pay for it with injury or worse.
Moreover, time is of the essence when you are dealing with damage from flooding and the cleanup required afterward.
To avoid the worst types of damage and limit the potential growth of mold, contractors work extremely efficiently and quickly to make sure the already severe damage doesn’t escalate further.
Mold can establish itself and begin growing in as little as 48 to 72 hours, which means you likely won’t be able to take stock of your situation, purchase the equipment you need and mobilize a team before the effects become worse — or even permanent.
This all requires not just a well-rounded skill set, but also the right collection of tools. To address saturation in areas where mold growth is a very real danger, Aer Industries provides top-shelf solutions from lead manufacturers like B-Air® and BlueDriTM, including the Vantage 3000 dehumidifier, for thoroughly saturated air, and the BD ONE-29 air mover, which can perform in tight spaces and over extended periods of time.
We Have the Equipment that Makes Flood Cleanup Possible
We take pride in our curated inventory of rugged, portable, high-quality commercial dehumidifiers and air movers. We would love to partner with your professional water damage restoration team to make sure you are ready to tackle even the most difficult tasks.
Aer Industries is proud to offer commercial dehumidifiers and air movers from B-Air®, based in Los Angeles, California. B-Air® has been an innovator in the industry for more than 10 years, and they continue to provide products that defy expectations when it comes to form, function and performance.
The products offered in our inventory from B-Air® include:
- Vantage LGR VG-3000 — If you need a dehumidifier that’s at the top of its class and offers unsurpassed performance, the Vantage 3000 is probably just what you’re looking for. Sporting a heat pump that can defrost itself as needed and offering performance of up to 170 pints per day at AHAM — or 38 gallons per day at saturation — this is the right tool for all professional-grade commercial flood cleanup operations. Thanks to its power and versatility, that does not sacrifice maneuverability, the Vantage 3000 can work all day, overnight or even for days on end.
- Vent VP-33 — Looking for a versatile and powerful air mover? The B-Air® Vent VP-33 is available in green, blue and red and offers a performance rating of 2530 CFM while drawing only 2.9 amps. For even tougher restoration jobs, consider daisy chaining up to four of these tough little units together on a single 15-amp household circuit for extra air moving power. With a 1/3 HP motor and a durable plastic housing, the Vent VP-33 is powerful enough to get the job done but light enough to travel easily, wherever your work might take you.
Thanks to their combination of efficient, high-tech designs and extreme portability, BlueDri™ restoration equipment has been an industry staple for years.
With an expansive inventory of restoration dryers and commercial dehumidifiers, BlueDri™ consistently offers products that their clients get the job done right the first time, leave a lasting and professional impression and set the stage for further business opportunities down the road.
This really is a top-tier designer and manufacturer of flood damage and water restoration equipment, and we’re proud to be partnered with them. BlueDri™ product offerings include the:
- BlueDri™ BD ONE-29 Air Mover — Weighing in at just 26 pounds, the BD ONE-29 is designed to outperform the competition and stand up to the daily abuse from life on the job. Featuring a tough, roto-molded housing around the motor and an efficient shape that’s conducive for carrying up and down stairs, the ONE-29 is a powerful companion that features a 25-foot power cord and a premium warranty.
- BlueDri™ Air Shield 550 HEPA Air Scrubber — If it’s an air scrubber you’re looking for, BlueDri™ has you covered there, as well. Available in blue, green, grey and red, the Air Shield 550 HEPA air scrubber can you tackle mold, pollen, dust, drywall particles and many more of the subsequent headaches that follow major flood events. With three available filtration stages, including a HEPA filter and pre-filter, the Air Shield 550 works hard in industrial and commercial environments.
Aer Industries: Your Ally for Effective, Time-Sensitive Flood Restoration
Restoration contractors all across the country have come to depend on Aer Industries’ unique focus on customer experience and curating a top-notch product inventory.
Veterans and industry newcomers alike consider us a source of knowledge and rugged, efficient, thoughtfully designed equipment.
With the right tools, information and knowledge, you and your team of restoration experts can easily position yourselves as experts in this dynamic industry.
If you have had trouble in the past finding equipment to meet specific or unique needs or to you go after particular types of work, Aer Industries is standing by to assist you.
Give us a call at 855.345.3555 today, and one of our friendly associates can you find the equipment you
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