Hidden Danger of Florida Hurricanes —
Before you invest in a new St. Augustine home take a look at this:
Many people don't know it, but Hurricanes Matthew and Irma dumped more than 28 million gallons of sewage across the state of Florida in 2016 and 2017. In Irma alone there were 1.5 million gallons dumped in Jacksonville and 400,000 gallons in St. Augustine.
Florida relies on a system of wastewater lift stations with electronic pumps that move sewage through the state. But when Irma knocked out the electricity in many areas, some of the sewage pumps were also cut off, leading to overflows and spills of raw sewage — which harbor dangerous bacteria, viruses, and parasites, such as E. coli, salmonella, and hepatitis A.
Many people mistakenly believe that after the water has been mopped up the crisis is over. That is rarely true. Unless interior walls are non-porous such as stucco, brick or cocquina, water seeps into cracks and gets sucked up by wood, plaster and sheet-rock creating a "perfect storm" albeit on a microscopic level. The water is gone from site but the damage has only just begun.
Mold and mildew (mold in early stage) can grow on just about anything; wood products, ceiling tiles, cardboard, wallpaper, carpets, drywall, fabric, plants, foods, insulation, even decaying leaves! Not only that, mold colonies can start to grow on a damp surface within 24 to 48 hours. Mold reproduce by spores - tiny, lightweight “seeds”- that travel through the air. They easily migrate through an entire house within days - especially through HVAC systems to effectively "infect" the home.
If you can smell mold, you have a significant problem and need to understand not only the health consequences, but the financial consequences.
The documented dangers to human health due to mold exposure are many. Guidelines issued by the World Health Organization note that mold exposure is associated with respiratory symptoms, allergies, asthma, and immunological reactions.
The financial impact of mold can be just as devastating. Proper remediation includes removing and replacing exposed walls and cabinetry, replacing appliances and
In Florida, especially on the coast, the first question from prospective seller's is, "Has there been hurricane damage?" Some sellers might think they can get away with lying or minimizing any damage, but the truth will eventually come out.
Homeowners need to beware of perception as well as actual damage.
A California homeowner sold his 1,200-square-foot-home for $210,000, but when a neighbor’s home entered the market only six weeks later, it was listed for just $192,000. The reason? The house was stigmatized.
Although the home showed pride of ownership, its walls had toxic molds, a result of previous water leakage. In addition to making extensive repairs, the owner was advised to list the house far below market value, and to disclose the house’s history, warts and all.
Mold is only one of many issues that can stigmatize a house, so make sure you provide (or receive) a full property disclosure.
Disclosure laws vary by state, so if you wonder why you are getting a steal, ask the owner. The seller may be required to tell you only if asked. In other states, full disclosure is required, and sellers need to inform buyers of problems even if they’re not specifically asked. Whether you are a buyer or seller, it is worth your time to learn your state’s laws for disclosure.
Tips For Water Clean-up
· Protect yourself: Put on personal protective equipment (cleaning type gloves, N95 respirator/mask, and safety goggles) to protect your skin, mouth, nose, lungs and eyes.
· Toss / Take it out: Anything that was wet with flood water and can’t be cleaned and dried completely within 24 to 48 hours should be taken outside. Take photos of discarded items for filing insurance claims.
· Air out: Open all doors and windows when you are removing wet or moldy materials, or cleaning moldy surfaces.
· Drying it out: When electricity is safe to use, you can close doors/windows and use fans and dehumidifiers to help remove moisture indoors. Remember that dehumidifiers can only dehumidify under closed indoor conditions. Dry your home and everything in it as quickly as possible – within 24 to 48 hours if you can.
· Don’t mix cleaners: If you use cleaning products, do not mix cleaning products together because doing so can create toxic vapors.
· Scrub surfaces: Clean with water and detergent. Remove all mold you can see. Dry right away.
· Don’t cover it, remove it: Painting or caulking over mold will not prevent mold from growing. Fix the water problem completely, dry it out, and clean up all the mold before you paint or caulk.
· Consider your medical status: Individuals with suppressed or impaired immune systems, mold allergies, asthma, or other chronic lung disease should not clean or remove moldy materials. See your doctor if you are unsure of your medical status or are not feeling well.