In recent years in the United States, rampant wildfires have broken out across the western portion of the country. Major parts of California, Arizona, and Oregon have seen major fires lay down damage and wipe out communities. But the number one natural disaster in the country, in terms of damage, is still flooding and water damage.
From 2005 to 2014, the average flood claim rested around $42,000 and total flood insurance claims averaged more than $3.5 billion annually. But for historic properties, not only can the claims be higher but the efforts to repair the damage may be fruitless.
It’s important for historic societies and property owners to know what to do following a flood and how to best recover from the major damage that can have long-lasting effects.
Drying Things Out
After a building has been saturated and once the waters recede, it’s important that the drying process begins right away. Most of the effects that water damage lays down, including rot, rust, and spalling, can be kept limited to a minimum effect. This can be done by reducing both interior and exterior moisture levels.
The least damaging drying process is one that uses ventilation to dry everything out. In order to speed up the process of evaporation, interior air must be ventilated to the outside. This can be done by opening windows and doors to allow the moisture to escape out. Fans can also be used to add some speed to the process, but even still, there needs to be time allowed to dry everything out.
Using heat is another option to dry things out, but don’t use it too soon. Doing this can actually cause more damage. As things begin to dry out, small amounts of heat can be introduced, including heaters and dehumidifiers.
None of these devices should be used when water makes things dangerous, like having electric chords present around water. Also, it’s a good rule of thumb to be cognizant of using industrial drying equipment to remove moisture at a fast rate. This causes damage to the wood and plaster.
Cleaning Things Up
As you can imagine, cleaning up after a flood can not only take time and effort, but it can take plenty of resources. To clean any remaining dirt and stains, it’s important to use a standard household cleaning product. Special care should be utilized when working on or around historic materials, and in fact, these items should be carefully removed and sent to another location to be clean and stored.
Before a historic property is cleaned up, it’s important to carefully document any damage to the structure or the items inside. This is an important issue not only for insurance purposes, but also to record important historic features of the building. If components of the building are removed for cleaning or repair, documenting through video or photography helps to ensure that everything is reinstalled in the correct way.
Doing these steps will help with the insurance process following a flood. Historic insurance agents should be contacted right away so inventories can be made and damages can be assessed. Having this kind of insurance will provide the peace of mind needed following a flood. This kind of insurance is meant to provide financial protection when needing to be reimbursed for significant losses in the event of a flood.