Extreme Weather Hits Home – Weblog

December 5, 2007

Contaminated vs Clean Water Intrusion

Filed under: Flooding — Tags: , , , , , — John Banta @ 4:38 pm

Recovering from flooding such as is presently happening in the Northwest requires different approaches depending on the circumstances. Falling rainwater is generally considered to be from a clean source and is much easier to quickly dry than if the water is from surface water flooding. When water floods the drainage channels it frequently overflows into the septic and sanitary sewer systems causing contamination to be released. Either type of event can result in mold growth if sensitive materials are not dried promptly, but contaminated water presents additional risks to health. The flooding in New Orleans resulted not only in microbiological contamination, but chemical release contamination as well. All of these factors need to be considered when attempting to recover from flooding.

Buildings that got wet because of rain water entry from wind damaged roofs have little risk from contamination being present in the water that entered, but mold can begin to develop if materials like gypsum board paper and insulation are not dried rapidly. Professional drying may be able to save these types of materials if it is started in the first 72 hours. After that the situation needs to be evaluated to determine if mold has grown. It won’t always develop after 72 hours, but it does need to be investigated.

Ground or surface water entering the building needs to be treated as contaminated. For additional emergency flood recovery information see the post below for information about the IICRC and working with certified water damage firms. 


Flood Damage Restoration

Filed under: Flooding — Tags: , — John Banta @ 1:15 am

The heavy rains that have occurred in Washington and Oregon have resulted in flooding of many homes. As an environmental consultant I am frequently called in weeks after the damage has occurred. Proper and immediate restoration can help prevent you from needing someone like me and help limit substantial amounts of damage.

It is important to get a specialist in water damage involved as quickly as possible to help return the building to a safe and habitable condition. Of course when these types of disasters occur there are sometimes problems with fly-by-night companies that move in to make a quick buck. It is important to have some criterion for evaluating companies that help with restoration. The Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification www.iicrc.org is the place to go for flood damage restoration company referrals. They have tips for minimizing post flood damage at http://www.certifiedcleaners.org/water_damage.shtml



Listed companies must promise to abide by the IICRC’s code of ethics and be insured.

December 4, 2007

Northwest Flooding – Art Restoration

Filed under: Flooding — Tags: , , , , — John Banta @ 1:26 pm

Extreme Weather Hits Home

The flooding in the Northwest this week has prompted me to republish this information from from Heather Becker with the Chicago Conservation Center www.chicagoconservation.com. They specialize in the restoration of art and collectibles. I have seen them do some truly amazing restorations of items that I would have thought impossible.  I have seen a painting that was almost completely covered with mold growth after a water damage that was cleaned and restored to a condition that looks better than before the damage occurred. This is because they don’t just remove the damage, but the years of accumulated dirt.  The following by Heather was originally written in response to a question about fire damage from the California fires, but also applies to water damage as well.

Comment by Heather Becker“Action Steps” for emergency response to art and fine furniture damages:

* Never assume an item is a loss. Soot, fire, water, and mold damages can often be recovered and conserved by a professional conservation expert. Conservators should employ non-invasive and reversible techniques and methods when ever possible.
* As soon as the property can be safely entered, immediately document in situ and contact your experts/conservators. They can then advise on the process of removing all items of concern. Items should be moved as soon as possible to a controlled area off to the side where they can be kept safe from further damage.
* As items are removed, they should be inventoried with a brief written notation and photographed. Numbering each item and creating an inventory will assist in the management of the recovery process. Although it is important to address the items in a timely manner, a few moments spent ensuring precise records are kept can be invaluable to the smooth handling of the claim.
* During recovery, if pieces become structurally unsound be sure to retain all components where possible and keep these together. Bag and label any pieces which come loose for easy identification.
* During the recovery stage, all items that can be removed should be considered for possible triage and conservation.
* Where necessary, items should be dried under controlled conditions, with humidity levels reduced slowly in order to avoid additional stress on the art. Art should not be dried in the sun or under direct heat and should not be exposed to rapid fluctuations in temperature or humidity.
* Property should be transported as soon as possible to a conservation center for immediate triage if and when necessary. When dealing with high-end property, conservation experts or professional art handlers should assist with the arrangements to transport items in a climate controlled, air ride vehicle. Books and works of art on paper can be shipped in coolers with ice packs so that they can be kept cool and damp.
* When handling wet items where the threat of mold growth is present, wear protective clothing when necessary such as tyvek suits, respirators, goggles, boots and gloves.
* Wet items with mold growth should be carefully cleaned under controlled conditions to minimize dispersal of spores and halt the process of contamination.
* During triage, conservators will carefully review each piece and undertake controlled drying as necessary.
* Once items are stabilized, a conservator should prepare a thorough condition report of each piece and provide detailed treatment recommendations for review. This process should include consultation with the clients to determine which items are eligible for conservation and expected treatment outcomes.

The Chicago Conservation Center
refer to “collection tips” on the website for more educational information regarding collection care

Comment by Heather Becker — October 26, 2007 @ 5:41 pm

October 14, 2007

Katrina Decontamination

Filed under: Flooding — John Banta @ 4:55 am


Source: FEMA

14 Months Post Katrina

Filed under: Flooding — John Banta @ 4:39 am


Note the house in the middle. The failure of the carport’s roof pulled the roof for the rest of the home down since it was attached to the house.

14 Months Post Katrina

Filed under: Flooding — John Banta @ 4:30 am


14 Months Post Katrina

Filed under: Flooding — John Banta @ 4:28 am


This photograph shows the condition in areas of New Orleans when I was there fourteen months after the levee broke.

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