eye on the storm

Mold a primary concern in houses flooded by Florence

Investigators

The floods from Florence left behind more than destruction. There’s also a lot of mold left behind. and getting rid of it can be a costly and time consuming process.

Chapel Hill’s Camelot Village was among the places flooded out by Florence.

To deal with mold in those apartments, crews had to remove drywall from the floor to about five feet up the wall.

They also pulled out any carpeting and flooring. Units must be dried before they can begin restoration.

It’s a process being repeated over and over again in the flood-affected apartments. The biggest worry for tenants is mold.

“The rugs are wet,” said Ray Matowski. “Everything needs to be pulled out. The mold is already starting to build up.”

Molly Pearlstein is worried about the health effects from mold.

“It does concern me,” she said. “The effects of the mold, I don’t know what they are yet, and that’s the scary part — you don’t realize how it’s affecting you.”

A crew from the company 1-800 Water Damage has been working in Camelot Village since last week. They said mold was spreading before they even got there.

“You usually have about three days before you see some kind of growth,” said supervisor Dwayne Sutton.

And it’s not just mold the flood waters brought. There are other kinds of contamination, too.

“The flooding was four feet high. Nothing you can really save in here” Sutton said. “You also have sewage in there. You don’t want save any of the stuff here. Just take it out of there and get it dumped.”

The Town of Chapel Hill is hauling the stuff away to a designated landfill in Durham.

For anyone planning to attempt mold cleanup, experts say need to keep these tips in mind:

  • Wear a N95 rated mask or respirator that fits tightly 
  • Wear long pants, shirt, gloves, boots & goggles 
  • Dispose of all porous items wet for more than 48 hours 
  • Use a commercial mold control solution and avoid bleach, which isn’t effective in all cases 

“If you have a tiny area, you could put some bleach down, but anything past 4-5 feet you’ll need an anti-microbial,” Sutton said.

The nonprofit organization SBP offers this mold remediation guide.

Mold remediation is really tricky. The CDC has developed an extensive fact sheet that warns about possible health effects of mold exposure and details who is most at risk from mold. That can be found here.

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration offers resources on mold control and clean-up information. It includes preventing contamination through proper building maintenance and prompt repair of water damaged areas. 

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