Flooding in Mobile Home Parks

Dear GSMOL colleague,

You have seen our recent Lessons Learned from recent hurricanes, but I realize that those of us in mobile homes might have special concerns. Here are some resources. I hope you can share this Advisory with your neighbors and your Emergency Response Team. If you would like a shorter article for a newsletter or flyer, just let me know and I’ll draft one for you.

The recent storms in Texas, Florida and now throughout the Caribbean have reminded me, once again, about the . . .

Multiple dangers of floods for mobile home residents

Last week at one senior park in Kissimmee, FL, residents were excited to get back to their homes after their community was flooded.

However, around 250 of them will have to leave permanently because mold has consumed everything! (Yes, they will apparently get their security deposits back . . .)

And then I came across a small news report about a flash flood that roared through a mobile home park in Palm Springs, just about 3 weeks ago!

A quote from one of the residents who ended up with a foot of water on her living room floor: “It was so high, and so fast, and so scary. It just got bigger and bigger. And then it started coming through my back door.”

These stories have reminded me, and should remind you, about what would happen if your home were to flood.

Here are three questions to get answers to.

Question 1. “How likely is our park to flood?”

When I first started digging into the issue of flooding, I naturally did research about my own park. I started by checking to see if we were located in a flood zone – and I discovered that there are some areas of “100 year floods” quite close by!  I recommend you start with this step, too – just follow the links – and be patient — in this Advisory:  http://emergencyplanguide.org/flood-zone/.

Do remember as you’re waiting for your map to come up that the definitions of “100 year” and “500 year” floods have been pretty much exploded as a result of the recent storms in Texas. Still, you’ll get an idea. And these are the standards that the insurance industry still uses.

Question 2. “Should I buy flood insurance?”

Again, I did research about flood insurance when we were threatened a year ago by El Nino storms (which didn’t materialize). I was surprised to discover just how insurance companies define the differences between “water damage” vs.“flood damage.”  Do you know?

Again, I suggest you start with this Advisory where I report on everything I learned. http://emergencyplanguide.org/flood-damage-not-covered-by-insurance/

You will definitely want to pull out your own property insurance policy to see just what it says.

Then, perhaps you can invite an insurance professional to be a guest speaker at one of your park meetings!

Question 3. “How do I recover from water damage or flooding?”

The people in Florida are abandoning their homes because the heat and humidity after the flood was perfect for rapid mold growth.

Perhaps they will be able to salvage a few items made of glass or plastic – but even those need to be decontaminated.

Even if your home isn’t completely flooded, you’d need to follow these steps after getting water damage:

Step One – Dry or replace.

Even if your home or belongings are damaged by rain water (assuming it to be cleaner than flood water), the first job to recovering them is to get them DRY or, if that’s not possible, to pull them out and replace with new.

You may be able to do some of this yourself. But you may need the help of a contractor to cut out wall board, replace floors, the underbelly and floor insulation, etc. Again, depending on the depth of the water, your ducts and furnace and air conditioner controls may need to be cleaned and/or replaced – once again, probably requiring the services of a professional.

Outside, you may need to remove siding and/or skirting to allow air under the home. Open everything up and move air through using large fans, heaters, and dehumidifiers (depending on the weather).

Having a good fan on hand BEFORE the water hits may keep you from being frustrated after the fact, when store shelves will likely be empty. You can get a professional-quality “air mover” starting at about $100. (The more speeds, the more directional settings, the bigger the motor, the more expensive.)

Here are a couple of examples of the so-called snail style. (Officially called an centrifugal fan.) The first is a ¼ horsepower motor, the second is a ½ HP motor. Click on the images or links to get details and prices.

XPOWER P-230AT 1/5 HP 800 CFM 3 Speeds Mini Air Mover with 3-Hour Timer and Built-In Dual Outlets for Daisy Chain, 2.3-Amp

Max Storm 1/2 HP 2550 CFM Durable Lightweight Air Mover Carpet Dryer Blower Floor Fan for Pro Janitorial, Purple

A second style is the axial fan. These move more air in a wider pattern and can be directed at different angles. (We have an old one of these fans and use it to move air so we don’t have to turn on the A/C.)  Realize we’re not talking a simple table fans here. These fans are heavy and noisy!

Again, a sample: 

XPOWER X-34AR Axial Fan, Blue

 

Depending on the amount of water in your home, and the size of the space, you may also want to use a dehumidifier to help dry everything out. Which type to get depends on how long your home was submerged, how much water you actually need to remove, and on the ambient temperature of your location. (Dehumidifiers don’t work well when it’s too cold.) A professional dehumidifier is the size of a large rolling suitcase or small filing cabinet and it’s likely to cost upwards of $1,500.

Want a complete discussion of professional dehumidifiers? Check out this excellent website: http://www.dehumidifierweb.com

Step Two – Decontaminate.

Dirty water can carry debris and germs. Contaminated water can carry viruses, bacteria, chemicals and metals that can kill you. All the people we saw on TV wading through water in their streets were walking in contaminated water!

Everything touched by flood water needs to be decontaminated.

You can use using a chlorine bleach solution. The makers of Clorox recommend 1 1/2 cups Regular Bleach to 2 gallons of water in a 5 gallon bucket. (OSHA recommends a stronger solution: 1 ½ cups Regular bleach to 1 gallon.) Wet the surface, scrub with bleach solution, scrub again, rinse, let dry.

(Bleach will stain clothing and will irritate your hands if you don’t protect them. Obviously, don’t get it in your eyes. Wear old clothes, rubber gloves, etc.)

Read more about decontaminating clothing and surfaces at https://www.clorox.com/cleaning-and-laundry-tips/cleaning/outdoor/outdoor-mold-and-mildew/#wxrj5HBTZJqzRU2e.99

OK, that’s it for now. I am sure other issues will surface as we see how our neighbors to the south fare, but I hope this special Advisory will give you some ideas to help you be better prepared.

Thanks for reading, and for sharing.

Virginia
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team