Flooding in West Palm Beach can devastate property, leaving your home or business at risk of dangerous mold growth and structural damage. The coastal areas of Palm Beach County are at higher risk of storm-surge flooding caused by onshore winds during tropical storms, hurricanes, and northeasterners. Here we offer a comprehensive guide explaining the restoration process following flooding in West Palm Beach, Florida, to help return your property to a habitable condition.
What is Flood Damage Restoration?
Flood restoration is a specific form of professional water damage cleanup performed by a team of water restoration experts. It involves a complex process using several methods, including:
- Water extraction
- Dehumidification to remove moisture
- Cleaning and restoration of possessions such as furniture
- Removing mold and mildew caused by the flood waters
- Reconstruction as required
- Decontamination in the case of sewage and other toxins
Why Hire a Professional Flood Restoration Company?
When you look closely at the level of damage, you will see flood restoration is not a DIY project. Although you can try sorting through the mess and assessing the damage, what you might not realize is that flooding often brings contaminated water into your home. Once the water begins to recede, contaminants and sewage leave behind dangerous pollutants in the air, and on surfaces that can make you sick.
Flood damage clean-up professionals wear protective clothing and equipment to limit their exposure to potential hazards. Also, your property can’t “bounce back” from flood damage. The high levels of moisture require special procedures and equipment to make it safe to return to your property.
What is Involved in Flood Restoration?
As mentioned above, there are several methods used in the flood restoration process. There are generally six steps involved, including:
Step 1: Assessing the damage
The assessment step is essential as floodwaters not only carry mud but also combine insects, toxic sludge, a mix of household chemicals, sewer or septic system backup, and dangerous debris, including highly carcinogenic materials such as asbestos, etc. You can’t begin cleanup without understanding the hazards and ensuring they are removed before proceeding.
What damage can a flood cause?
The assessment also considers possible structural damage, such as:
- Saturated building components below the flooded water line
- Structural/foundation instability caused by flooding water movement such as soil washout
- Structural displacement caused by flood-related uplift or buoyancy from long-standing water
Step 2: Water extraction
Following the assessment, standing water must be removed using industrial-strength equipment such as pumps and wet/dry vacuums.
Step 3: Drying
Professional restoration crews use specialty equipment such as dehumidifiers, air movers, and fans to help dry your property and recoverable belongings. This can take days or weeks to complete.
Step 4: Cleaning and sanitizing
Once the property is completely dry, home water damage cleanup and sanitizing begins. This is crucial, as it removes/prevents mold growth. Specialized cleaners and disinfectants are required to kill spores, while severe mold growth is managed by removing and replacing materials.
Step 5: Restoration
Once the property is safe, the restoration company will determine what repairs and replacements are required to return your property to its original condition. Higher waters and more severe damage might require replacing walls and ceilings or rebuilding the entire structure.
The IEBC International Existing Building Code outlines when repairs can be made during restoration and when the original condition no longer complies with the new building code. It depends on the age of the building and the amount of structural damage that presents a safety risk.
Step 6: Mold prevention and remediation
Identifying mold requires a professional visual inspection to spot stained or discolored areas. Following restoration, you can watch for discolored areas that increase in size, which is a sign of mold growth. Musty smells also indicate possible mold. The mold remediation service will correct moisture issues and clean up mold contamination to remove the presence of mold and prevent further growth.
Working with Insurance Following a Flood
Assessments must determine whether the building suffered from Substantial Structural Damage (SSD) or Substantial Damage (SD) based on the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Substantial Structural Damage (SSD) is related to the structural condition of the building without considering the cost to repair the damage or the monetary value of the damage.
Substantial Damage (SD) refers to costs to repair structural and non-structural items, regardless of whether the work is structural or not. Sometimes referred to as the “50% Rule”, substantial damage is “of any origin sustained by a structure whereby the cost of restoring the structure to its before-damaged condition would equal or exceed 50% of the market value of the structure before the damage occurred.” You must also identify whether the building is located in a flood hazard area established by FEMA.
Calculation of Costs
The cost of the repairs must be calculated at fair market value, including:
- HVAC equipment
If you want to take this opportunity to make upgrades, these upgrades are not covered by your insurance. Other costs not covered include:
- Producing plans
- Specifications and surveys
- Building permit fees
- Costs for debris removal
- Items not considered built-in
- Repairs for pre-existing health or safety code violations
The market value used for the substantial damage calculation is related to the building itself. Sometimes the most recently reported appraised value provided by the county property appraiser is used. Otherwise, a licensed property appraiser provides the market value. Either way, documented proof of the market value is required.
No additional work is required if your property complies with flood elevation requirements for new construction. If it doesn’t, and Substantial Damage applies, the restoration will require an elevation certificate or survey to ensure your property meets your flood zone’s minimum flood elevation requirement.
Following flooding in West Palm Beach, the goal is to return your property to its original condition as quickly as possible while remaining compliant with current building codes. Getting your building back to its pre-damaged condition requires a clear understanding of proper water damage procedures.
An experienced flood restoration company will work with insurance companies to ensure all applicable coverage can be accessed to cover repairs and restoration costs. Hiring a flood restoration company right away ensures all necessary steps are taken to get your insurance claim in motion and bring your property back to a livable, workable condition as soon as possible.
For more information about flood restoration services in West Palm Beach, Florida, speak to the experts at Water Resto USA today.