Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
gwilcox

Disaster flooding

Recommended Posts

We are having the worst flooding in over 130 years. The water is expected to remain at least a couple of weeks. I was hoping that perhaps there are some who having gone through a similiar experience and then inspected the houses in the aftermath might have some insight on what we inspectors can expect to see.

I understand there are potential dangers such as the building integrity, collapsed ceilings, electrical issues, moisture, corrosion. I am concerned about trapped moisture, stucco exteriors, wet insulation etc.

It sounds like FEMA will be involved, and that they will say when an individual can go back to their home. Any help is appreciated.

Thanks in advance

Gerald Wilcox

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've seen where finished basements had been flooded in my area. Sometimes, only the stained portions of drywall are removed and replaced.

If water or moisture was in there for enough time, the water damage and mold potentials creep way up into the wall above the staining that was viewable on the outer surface.

I think if flooding was in a house, all the drywall from the floor to the ceiling should be removed and replaced and maybe even the ceiling too. Ive seen where there was only a foot a water but the air cavities in the walls carried the moisture into the ceiling and floor joist bays resulting in a serious mold problem. The contractor was ready to replace only the bottom two feet of drywall and enclose all the mold.

Good luck with your tasks and my heart goes out to those with losses.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While I can't provide any insight on the post-flood inspections, I did go through the '93 flood on the Missouri. My parents had 12' of water, and even some of the other homes I helped in with lower water depths, the outcome was still the same.

Basically, everything had to be gutted, tons of mud shoveled out, and in several of the homes, basically stripped to the framing and start over. Not sure of what all depths you're dealing with, but if you are first to go in to start evaluating, watch for snakes and such in the attics. My parents had one in their home.

Thoughts are with you all, I never want to relive another flood like that again.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I did some flood work years ago. I came to the conclusion that flooding is the worst thing that can happen to a structure short of it burning down.

In some ways, burning it down is better.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A huge chunk of my inspections are of old buildings in historic towns along the Delaware river and the 18th century farms between these towns. In 1955 there was a devastating flood that was discussed by locals for 50 years. No one expected any major flooding for another 100 to 200 years.

Then, between Fall of 2004 and Spring of 2006, there were 3 major floods. During each one, I would click through the 4 major local newscasts and nearly every person interviewed was a past client. When folks could safely return, my voicemail filled up with requests to come out and evaluate flood-damaged structures. I would go out to a property and before I finished, there would be 2, 3 or 4 folks asking If I could look at their property next. After the third flood, I had been in probably hundreds (I really didn't count) of buildings that had been significantly filled with water.

I was absolutely amazed at how well the old buildings survived structurally. Most of the old buildings were constructed of stone and clapboarded timber frame or balloon frame on stone foundations. The water flowed in and when the river receded, it flowed back out just as easily. The most common issues were mortar loss and basement floor slabs had heaved, but it was rare that there was an immediate danger.

Most buildings that I saw that were built in the second half of the 20th century didn't fare as well. Damage and displacement was more frequent and more severe in the newer buildings. Many folks that pumped out their basements early (before the water drained out of the saturated ground surrounding their homes) got to watch their CMU walls bulge in from the pressure. Some failed catastrophically.

Click to Enlarge
tn_20116261240_fld1.jpg

31.83 KB

Click to Enlarge
tn_20116261342_fld2.jpg

33.47 KB

Of course, things other than the structure are always a complete mess. Here, all the major components of a building's systems are usually in the basement. We're not in a seismic activity area so we don't strap anything. Water heaters, hydro-pneumatic tanks and oil tanks break loose and float. Furnaces don't survive. Most boilers can be salvaged, but all electronics need replacement. All circuit breakers need to be replaced and the panels cleaned out.

Before the building dries out, everything needs to be rinsed and washed with a disinfectant. Sometimes there is concentrated fuel oil or sewage that requires serious, professional effort. Every receptacle/outlet/switch box has to be opened up and cleaned. If there has been insulation in the walls, they all have to be opened up for replacement. Uninsulated plaster walls did okay, although some plaster that was saturated later became unkeyed from the lath in some spots. All drywall has to go. A lot of old floors settled back down. Newer hardwood never would return to original after saturation. Other floor coverings, paint and wallpaper all get replaced.

The sooner you can get things to dry out (without using heat) the less damage there will be for needing replacement.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My experience with several hundred homes flooded to the ceiling level and above in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina pretty much echos what Bill said. Older dwellings (60 years and older) did much better than more recent construction.

If your house floods and it's not a violent flood in which water currents reach velocities sufficient to damage structural members, of foremost importance is the prevention of mold. As soon as you're permitted to return to the house, get all debris, wet and irreversibly damage personal possessions/building material out of the house. That means drywall, insulation, carpeting, furniture, cabinets/doors (unless constructed from old growth wood), etc. Open at least one side of all flooded walls to a height of at least 2' above the highest flood line to get wet building material out and dry out the wall interior. It would be ideal to get the entire structure fairly dry within 24 hours. Use fans to circulate the air flow against wet surfaces and speed the drying. Use dehumidifyers if you have them.

I wish I were nearer to help (but not so nearer as to be flooded myself).

Marc

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The floods I saw didn't damage structure; it was everything else.

2'-3' of mud/sludge/sewage filled all the rooms. All equipment was trash. After cleaning them out to a skeleton, washing, disinfecting, etc., there was still an aroma of sludge.

Nastiest messes I've ever seen.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This past week I was in Grafton, IL that is right along the Mississippi river and floods a lot. The state and federal gov’t is pretty serious about managing every pebble that can impact the height of the river. So many of the houses are built up and have flow through for the rising river under the house. State flood engineers tell the owners exactly how high a house has to be.

Click to Enlarge
tn_2011626101141_20110621_1.jpg

59.22 KB

Click to Enlarge
tn_2011626101244_20110621_3.jpg

74.9 KB

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for all of your replies! The flooding in Minot and Bismarck areas have been devastating. Basements are completely full, some 1st floor's have 3 ft of water over them. I'm checking into FEMA for possible inspections through their subcontractors. Bill K, when you went out to evaluate these residences were these full home inspections? Or were these partial like mold, electrical, structure? One of my concerns is for incomplete or improper repairs with hidden moisture. Sure would like to have a thermal cam right about now. You can see more at http://www.kxnet.com/default.asp and go to the photo gallery.I believe that the flood stage is 1553. we are at 1561. now. The state record was in 1891(?) was 1558 ft above sea level.

Thanks again,

Gerald Wilcox

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi there,flooding is one of the worst things that can happen but happens in the spring in a lot of homes. This is specifically true if you went on trip during winter or did not use the water in the basement. Water lines freeze and break the water lines. This means that flooding when they melt.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...