After multiple storms hit the areas of Pensacola, Gulf Breeze and Milton, Florida and also Mobile, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama in 2004 and 2005, the professionals at Insider Investigation knew right away that there were not enough water damage people to meet the needs of thousands flooded by hurricane rising waters.
We turned to a friend who was the technical director of the IICRC to write a guideline for home and business owners with water damages. The following was produced IICRC Storm Damage Restoration Recommendations:
IICRC Storm Damage Restoration Recommendations
The following information is submitted by IICRC as a public service to those who have suffered water-related losses due to storm damage (e.g., hurricane, tornado). Since there are many variables involved in deciding about appropriate restoration steps, users of this information assume any and all liability for implementing the procedures covered herein.
The following recommendations assume water-related storm damage to residential or light commercial structures. For recommendations regarding restoration of major commercial properties and building assemblies, it is important to consult with professionals who have specific training and experience in this area.
Whether insured or not, it is important for property owners to document damage with photographs or video, and immediately begin loss mitigation procedures themselves; or hire a qualified contractor to do this on their behalf. It is totally inappropriate to put off mitigation while waiting for an insurance claims representative to arrive on the scene to evaluate the loss. By that time, in all probability sufficient time will have passed to grow and amplify microorganisms, which may not be covered by insurance. Loss mitigation is defined by insurance policies as “reasonable and prudent measures designed to preserve, protect and secure property from further damage,” including microbial growth and amplification.
According to IICRC Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Water Damage Restoration (IICRC S500), there are three categories of water that cause damage in buildings. They are summarized as follows:
Category 1 Water – That which is clean at the releasing source and does not pose a hazard if consumed by humans. Category 1 water may become progressively contaminated as it mixes with soils on or within floor coverings or building assemblies (walls, decking, subflooring). Time and temperature, which promote the growth and amplification of microorganisms in water can cause Category 1 water to degrade. Examples: burst water pipes, failed supply lines on appliances, vertically falling rainwater.
Category 2 Water – That which begins with some degree of contamination and could cause sickness or discomfort if consumed by humans. As with Category 1 water, time and temperature can cause Category 2 water to become progressively more contaminated.
Category 3 Water – That which is highly contaminated and could cause death or serious illness if consumed by humans. Examples: sewage, rising flood water from rivers and streams, ground surface water flowing horizontally into homes. There are two ways in which water enters a building as a result of wind storm damage:
The first involves falling or windblown rainwater that enters as a result of damage to roof components or wall assemblies. The second involves horizontally traveling ground surface water (Category 3) containing silt and soil contaminants that infiltrate into structures, generally through doors or around foundation walls. This ground surface water (storm surge) may accumulate to a depth of several inches or several feet. When structures are partially submerged or remain substantially flooded for weeks, far more elaborate procedures usually are required.
Most household microorganisms (fungi, bacteria) typically require five conditions for germination, growth, amplification and dissemination. Generally, they include:
• organic food source, especially cellulose (e.g., paper, wood), which are found in abundance in construction materials
• moisture, even high humidity (67% RH plus)
• moderate temperature – 68-86°F/20-30°C
• stagnant air
• time – several hours to several days
Anything that can be done to control or minimize these optimum conditions will prolong the time required for microbial growth.