flooding affects commercial buildings

Historic flooding occurred in New England as a result of a mid summer weather system that dumped torrential rain from Vermont to New York’s Hudson Valley.

Officials say the storm has already wrought tens of millions of dollars in damage. In New York, Gov. Kathy Hochul said at a news conference Monday the storm sent “cars swirling in our streets” and dumped a “historic” amount of rain.

“Nine inches of rain in this community,” Hochul said during a briefing on a muddy street in Highland Falls. “They’re calling this a ‘1,000 year event.’” (source: Associated Press)

For facility managers it’s important to understand how flooding affects commercial buildings to ensure occupant safety.

Flooding Affects Commercial Buildings Environmentally

The environmental impacts of floodwaters on commercial and institutional buildings cannot be overstated. While there are many different concerns, four critical areas of how flooding affects commercial buildings are explained below.

  1. Structural Damage: Floodwaters can cause significant damage to the structure of buildings, weakening foundations, walls, and floors. This damage can compromise the integrity and safety of the building.
  2. Mold Growth: Floodwaters create a damp environment, which promotes the growth of mold and mildew. Mold can damage building materials, furniture, and personal belongings, and also pose health risks.
  3. Contamination: Floodwaters can contain various contaminants, including sewage, chemicals, and bacteria. These contaminants can infiltrate the building, leading to potential health hazards.
  4. Electrical Hazards: Flooding can damage electrical systems, increasing the risk of electrical shocks and fires.

Health Concerns When Flooding Affects Commercial Buildings

Human health is affected when flooding affects commercial buildings and is not dealt with properly.

  • Waterborne Diseases: Floodwaters can carry disease-causing microorganisms, such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites, which can lead to illnesses like gastrointestinal infections, hepatitis, and leptospirosis.
  • Mold-Related Health Issues: Exposure to mold spores can cause respiratory problems, allergies, asthma attacks, and other allergic reactions.
  • Chemical Exposure: Floodwaters may contain hazardous chemicals from industrial facilities or household products, which can pose health risks if individuals come into contact with or inhale these substances.

Necessary Steps to Clean Up a Building for Safe Occupancy

Now that we have covered how flooding affects commercial buildings from the environmental and health sides, let’s look at how to safely clean up your facility.

  1. Ensure Safety: Before entering a flooded building, it’s essential to ensure that it is structurally safe. If there are concerns about safety, contact professionals or relevant authorities.
  2. Remove Standing Water: Pump out or drain the standing water from the building using appropriate equipment. It’s important to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, boots, and masks during this process.
  3. Remove Contaminated Materials: Discard porous materials that have been heavily contaminated by floodwaters, such as carpets, drywall, insulation, and furniture. Proper disposal methods should be followed.
  4. Clean and Disinfect: Thoroughly clean and disinfect all surfaces using appropriate cleaning agents. This helps eliminate contaminants and prevent mold growth. Follow the instructions on cleaning product labels for safe and effective use.
  5. Dry the Building: Use dehumidifiers, fans, and adequate ventilation to dry the building and prevent mold growth. It’s important to monitor humidity levels to ensure they are within a safe range.
  6. Inspect and Repair: Inspect the building for any structural damage, electrical issues, or other hazards. Repair and restore the building as necessary, ensuring that it meets safety standards before allowing occupancy.

When dealing with floodwater cleanup, it’s crucial to seek guidance from environmental professionals like WTI – Pure Air Control Services. We can provide a specific scope of work tailored to the situation and deploy to begin your remediation project. Contact us today to get started!

Sources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – Flood Water After a Disaster or Emergency 

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – Flood Cleanup: Avoiding Indoor Air Quality Problems 

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) – Repairing Your Flooded Home