Clean Up Team Considerations

Bob Relf of McEachern United Methodist Church pulls drywall from the living room of a house in Powder Springs, Georgia after record rainfall left two feet of water withing the home. Photo by Zachary Hoffman


Safety Considerations for Clean Up

  1. ´╗┐Stay away from downed power lines and report location to power company.  All lines should be considered live. 
  2. Flood waters were contaminated with sewage and chemicals so wear gloves to handle items being moved or removed.  Use sanitizer or thoroughly (20 sec) before touching face or eating (breaks/ meals.)
  3. When entering home watch for damaged or warped flooring.
  4. Use contents of flood buckets to clean and disinfect.  Do not mix chlorine bleach and ammonia, the resulting gas will permanently damage your lungs. 
  5. If mold is beginning to appear or there is dust, wear a N-95, P-95, N-100 mask or respirator.  The mask will have one of the above markings on it. If there is no marking, the mask should not be used, as there are possible long range respiratory implications.
  6. Throw out all food and other supplies that you suspect may have become contaminated or come in to contact with floodwater.
  7. If appliances are wet, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. Then, unplug appliances and let them dry out. Have appliances checked by a professional before using them again.
  8. Take frequent water breaks and eat something about 10-12-2 and 4 to maintain your energy level.  Fruit (natural sugar) or items with a low processed sugar level work best.
  9. Tape off sharp edges with duct tape
  10. Watch for spiders and snakes that might have been left in the home by the flood..
  11. Removing water from a basement takes a number of days to prevent failing walls. Pump out to 1/4 down and repeat each day until water stays at that level, then proceed to 1/2 and repeat process. Finally last 1/4.
  12. Keep nails and other sharp objects removed from roadways and driveways. Place in a bag on the metal pile.  Pick up after curb-side debris pick-ups


Clean-up Teams - Avoid Liability

Please ensure that you have a signed right-of-entry form from the homeowner to do clean-up and mud-out work prior to entering the property. If such a document does not exist with your team or the coordinating agency, do not commence work.


Homeowner Sort To Piles for Damaged Homes


Home furnishing, furniture, clothing, and other personal items should be sorted as listed below.  The homeowner should be the person to do this as this is an emotional stage for them in leading to their recovery..


1. A Keep Pile 

2. A Throw away Pile 

3. A Clean up Pile


Dry out Homes Before Rebuilding


It may take several weeks for the moisture level in the 2x4 studs to drop to a sufficient level to prevent the growth of mold.  The moisture level that is needed is 14-18% depending on the county building code.


First Step for Rebuilding: Resolve Electrical Issues First

Some homes had flood water higher than the electrical meter on the outside of the home.  Many of these meters were pulled by the power company and require an inspection of the home for electrical deficiencies before the meter can be re-installed.  Only after the electrical issues are resolved can the installation of the insulation and sheet rock begin.


Curbside Sorting for Debris

Items to be thrown away should be sorted into four piles at the curb.  FEMA declared areas required this sorting, as the contractor trucks picking up will only remove one category at a visit.  These are:

  • Appliance debris (refrigerator-do not open if without power for several days, stove, washer, dryer
  • Building Material
  • Tree products (limbs, logs, leaves)
  • Metal (roofing panels, siding)


Drying Out Process

  1. Begin the drying-out process by opening windows and using large fans and dehumidifiers. However, do not use the air-conditioner, which can spread mold spores.
  2. Begin the cleanup as soon as practical
  3. Be sure to remove all wet items out of the house.  Mold will start quickly in warm humid conditions. 
  4. Use a mold preventative (borx solution, bleach/water (1/10) solution or commerical product to clean and disinfect flooded areas. 
  5. Wear surgical gloves and masks when removing wet items once the mold appears or there is dust.