Officials advise flood victims to begin cleanup of homes

Officials advise flood victims to begin cleanup of homes
If mold is the problem in your home, you must first clean up the mold and eliminate the sources of the moisture.

PINE BELT (WDAM) - Officials are urging victims of December’s flash flooding to begin cleaning up their homes to prevent health issues that arise from mold and mildew.

Serious mold problems may require a professional removal service, according to the Jones County Emergency Management Agency.

If mold is the problem in your home, you must first clean up the mold and eliminate the sources of the moisture.

You can do so by following these steps from the Mississippi State Department of Health to remove the mold:

  • Identify and correct the moisture source.
  • Clean, disinfect, and dry the moldy area.
  • Bag and dispose any material that has moldy residues, such as rags, paper, leaves, or debris.

What should you save and what should you toss out?

  • Substances that are porous and can trap molds, such as paper, rags, wallboard, and rotten wood should be decontaminated and thrown out. 
  • Harder materials such as glass, plastic, or metal can be kept after they are cleaned and disinfected. 
  • Ultimately, it is critical to remove the source of moisture first, before beginning remedial action, since mold growth will return shortly if an effected area becomes re-wetted.

After you have fixed the moisture source and remove excess moisture, you can follow these MSDH tips to begin the cleanup.

Removal of Moldy Materials:

  • Wear gloves when handling moldy materials.
  • Remove porous materials (examples: ceiling tiles, sheetrock, carpeting, wood products).
  • Carpeting can be a difficult problem -- drying does not remove the dead spores. If there is heavy mold, disposal of the carpet should be considered.
  • Bag and discard the moldy substances.
  • Allow the area to dry 2 or 3 days.
  • If flooded, remove all sheetrock to at least 12 inches above the high water mark. Visually inspect the wall interior and remove any other intrusive molds. (This step may have to be carried out by a licensed contractor).

Before disinfecting contaminated areas, clean the areas to remove as much of the mold as possible.

Soap Cleanup:

  • Wear gloves when doing this cleanup
  • Use a non-ammonia soap or detergent, or a commercial cleaner, in hot water, and scrub the entire area affected by the mold
  • Use a stiff brush or cleaning pad on block walls or uneven surfaces
  • Rinse clean with water. A wet/dry vacuum is handy for this.

Disinfect Surfaces:

  • Wear gloves when using disinfectants.
  • After thorough cleaning and rinsing, disinfect the area with a solution of 10% household bleach (e.g., 1½ cup bleach per gallon of water). Using bleach straight from the bottle will not be more effective.
  • Never mix bleach with Ammonia -the fumes are toxic.
  • For spraying exterior large areas, a garden hose and nozzle can be used.
  • When disinfecting a large structure, make sure the entire surface is wetted (floors, joists, and posts).
  • Avoid excessive amounts of runoff or standing bleach.
  • Let disinfecting areas dry naturally overnight -- this extended time is important to kill all the mold.

For more information on the hazards of mold and how to clean it, visit the Mississippi State Department of Health website.

Copyright 2019 WDAM. All rights reserved.