High Waters: Be Prepared For Flooding
There are a number of measures businesses can take to reduce their flooding risks, whether caused by the spring thaw of snow cover or otherwise. With wide area flooding, many properties might be engulfed to a great depth while other properties might be flooded a foot or two above ground level (which means your basement is still underwater). Meanwhile, small scale floods are caused by broken pipes, damaged fire sprinklers, and roof leaks. Whether facing widespread flooding or a burst pipe, here are a few things to consider before flooding occurs:
Purchase flood insurance for susceptible properties. Typically there is a 30-day waiting period after the purchase until flood insurance takes effect. It is important to purchase ahead of time and not wait until flood waters are rising.
Small scale floods can happen anywhere. Look around your property and think about the impact of a small scale flood – anything sitting on the floor could get wet with a localized water leak. Place computers, files or other valuable items on to desks rather than floors.
Don’t forget the basement! Are there data file servers and records that can be moved or otherwise backed up? Many flooded properties subsequently move electrical and communications utility rooms and HVAC units to upper levels. These could be proactively moved before flooding to reduce risk.
Even with the most diligent efforts, floods cannot always be avoided. So let’s say your building has flooded. Now what?
Have it assessed by professionals. Water from surface flooding is generally dirty and can be contaminated with fuel, sediments, and sewage. An industrial hygienist can determine the extent of the contamination, and an engineer can determine if structural damage occurred. Buildings impacted by dirty flood water usually develop mold that needs to be remediated.
Remove contaminants. Once a building is deemed structurally sound, hire a specialist contractor to clean it. This process involves removal of impacted contents including soft and absorbent finishes such as carpet and wallboard. Once the hard surfaces are exposed, they are cleaned with bleach solutions, and dried with fans and dehumidification equipment.
By taking some basic steps in advance and having a plan to address floods, a property owner can reduce their potential risk and make a more rapid recovery.