With hurricane season upon us and winter storms to follow, floods are a worry for many property owners/managers.  After the flood waters have receded and you can safely return to the property, what should you do?   Do you know how to safely proceed with restoration? After thoroughly documenting damage and contacting your insurance carrier to begin the process of recovering losses, turn your focus to restoring and repairing the property through the following steps:

  1. Water removal. Before restoration can begin, water must be completely removed, buildings must dry, and surrounding terrain must be dry enough to allow equipment and crews to operate. This can mean waiting for floodwaters to recede naturally and/or hiring property restoration firms to deploy pumps.
  2. Asbestos and General Hazardous Materials Assessment. If flood damage is significant enough to warrant demolition, assess the property for hazards such as asbestos before deploying a demolition crew. Asbestos may be present in older buildings, primarily those built before 1982. Buildings constructed over the past 40 years could still have asbestos in roofing materials, joint compounds, floor tiles, mastic, etc. Survey for asbestos and any other on-site hazardous materials, including lead paint, sewage waste, or fuel should be conducted. If the facility has a Hazardous Materials Business Plan or a Spill Prevention Countermeasure and Control Plan, provide these materials to your on-site consultant.
  3. Structural Damage Assessment. High winds and flooding can cause considerable damage to a building’s structure and foundation. A Facility Condition Assessment can evaluate the extent of the damage to structural systems and provide recommendations for restoration, ongoing maintenance, and enhanced protection.
  4. Moisture and Mold Assessments. Promptly remove wet building materials, but don’t stop there. Sometimes the full extent of water damage is not obvious. Hire a consultant to perform moisture mapping on the property. Using a moisture meter and/or an infrared camera, they can determine the extent of water damage and identify moisture trapped within the building envelope. Preventing further water intrusion and removing water-compromised materials will reduce mold risk and protect structural integrity and building infrastructure.
  5. Repair and/or Rebuild. After a restoration contractor and local waste management have removed the last of the demolished and damaged materials, and you’ve ensured your structure is dry, you can rebuild. Before beginning, confirm which FEMA designated flood zone the property is in. Certain flood zones may be subject to additional restrictions or conditions for rebuilding. For example, a property built within a 100-year Flood Zone could require a more involved process than a property built in Flood Zone X. Once you’re ready to begin construction, protect your investment from defaults and liens with essential construction risk management tools to make sure the project stays on budget and on schedule.

For emergencies that can’t be prevented, such as storms, hurricanes and flooding, preparedness requires early implementation of mitigation strategies to help reduce the impact of the event. Resiliency assessments can help identify measures to prevent or reduce damage from extreme weather events. However, even with the best preparation, damage and disruption is sometimes unavoidable. A recovery/restoration plan is a key factor of resilience and will expedite your building’s return to fully operational condition.