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Flash Flooding Overwhelms Highways and Businesses in Northeast DC

Author: ServiceMaster Restore

The National Weather Service issued a Flash Flood Warning for the nation's capital, as well as surrounding cities such as Baltimore, Arlington, Virginia and Silver Spring, Maryland, through the evening hours. Floodwaters overtook highways, city streets and Metro stations across Washington, D.C., and Prince George's County, Maryland, on Wednesday afternoon as storms dumped more than 4 inches of rain on parts of the region in less than two hours.

The source of the rainfall was a slow-moving cold front, which remained a factor across the Ohio Valley and into the Northeast, including the I-95 corridor encompassing Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, throughout Wednesday night. The area from Alexandria through northeast D.C. into Prince George’s County experienced the heaviest rainfall. Water levels rose quickly causing local businesses to flood and giving way to disastrous effects on travel with stalled vehicles, and some commuter rail stations closing.

What To Do In A Flash Flood

Never walk or drive through flood waters. Six inches of water can knock a person down and only two feet of water can sweep away any vehicle during a flash flood. Remember that even shallow flood waters can pose a danger. Flood waters can contain debris and harmful contaminants that lead to injury and serious health risks. Never let children play in a flooded area for any reason. Head for higher ground, which is generally safer. If caught at home, avoid the basement and head to the upper level. Keep your flood emergency kit close at hand as well as a weather-emergency radio and a cell phone.

DIY Flood Cleanup Mistakes To Avoid

Flood damage can happen without warning, and when it does, the fallout can be extensive and unpredictable. Trying to fix it with a box fan is going to cause more harm than help in the long run, as hidden damage and mold warp and infect your house’s structure. Learning the pitfalls of do-it-yourself flood damage restoration, from infected water to electric shock, can help you keep safe by making informed decisions about what you should and shouldn’t do to recover from a flood.

Not Recognizing The Danger Of Flood Damage. Flood damage isn’t always an immediate, obvious threat to your house. It may not even look that bad. But the effect of water damage on a building isn’t something that you can eyeball.

Waiting Too Long Before Cleaning Up. Water damage doesn’t just go away. It escalates over time. It only takes minutes for your wood furniture to start swelling up, and for varnish to start leaching into your carpet. You may also see swelling in your floors and elsewhere. As time goes by, mold and mildew spread through your house, taking root deep into materials like wood and fabric, and ruining them beyond repair. Breathing in mold can cause allergic reactions, as well as damage to your liver, kidneys, and brain.

Using The Wrong Equipment For Flood Cleanup. You can’t pull off a successful water damage restoration with mops and towels. Cleaning the water that’s visible doesn’t mean you’ve actually cleaned the water threatening your home. Professionals used advanced equipment that’s specialized for this kind of work. Here are some examples of gear you may need. Since you’ll (hopefully) only need this gear once, renting it makes more sense than buying it for most people.

A heavy-duty fan is a good start. A regular fan isn’t going to do the trick. You need an especially powerful, purpose-built fan that was created for drying out large rooms, or an axial fan made to air out water damage in confined spaces.

A dehumidifier will pull moisture from the environment more thoroughly than a fan. You can purchase a dehumidifier at most home improvement shops and even some department stores. The higher the capacity, measured in pints per day, the better.

An air scrubber is essential for working to improve the air quality of the affected building. Many schools and hospitals use air scrubbers to maintain a healthy quality of indoor air, but there’s typically no reason for a homeowner to own one.

An extraction tool, also known as a flood pumper, is similar to a giant, turbocharged wet vac. An industrial flood pumper can dispatch 50 gallons of water per minute, with the power of multiple blowers and a big tank for water storage.

A moisture probe uses a coiled cable to help you determine where moisture is located, in places where you might not see it.

Specialized wall and floor drying systems can help you save your hardwood floors in many instances and can reduce the number of walls and ceilings you have to replace.

This is the kind of equipment that you need to deal with flood restoration. You may have a fan or a dehumidifier. You may even have a wet vac. But you probably don’t have the professional-grade tools that you need to save your home.

Missing The Small Details During Cleanup. Another risk of DIY water damage restoration is the chance of missing all the small, finicky details. You’ve probably heard the expression “Don’t sweat the small stuff” before. But with flood damage cleanup, the small stuff can make a huge difference on your home’s integrity and safety and cost you a lot of money.

Avoid DIY And Call The Experts To Get The Job Done Right. There are a ton of DIY projects that can enrich your daily life and enhance your sense of ownership in your home. Few things are more satisfying than a DIY project done well. Whether you’re fixing a noise in your toilet tank or sipping coffee on a porch you built yourself, DIY pays off financially and emotionally.

But flood damage is different. The stakes are too high, and the timetable is too urgent to try and make flood damage restoration a DIY project. You just don’t know whether unseen moisture is wreaking havoc under your floors, or where damage to hidden pipes may be leaking gas into your house. Relying on experts from ServiceMaster Restore’s network of experienced, local flood damage cleanup professionals means that you know you’ll get a fast response from an expert, with advanced equipment and the know-how to help you recover from flooding.

Health Risks And Other Dangers From Flood Waters

Rising flood water can put you and your family at risk for a range of different concerns, including health problems, safety issues, infectious hazards and more. It's crucial to be aware of the hidden dangers and diseases caused by water. Flood water damage can lead to any of the following health risks:

  • Electric Shock. Downed power lines submerged in flood waters can create an electrical current. If you come into contact with this water, you'll be exposed to an electric shock that can cause severe injury.
  • Infectious Diseases from Open Wounds. If you're treading in flood water and have any open cuts or sores, you could be exposed to harmful viruses, infections, and diseases from contaminated water.
  • Injury from Sharp Objects. Harmful objects can be hidden from view, especially in deep or murky flood waters. Sharp items like nails, broken glass, bits of metal and other unsafe materials can lead to severe injury and infections.If you can, avoid walking through flood waters.
  • Injury from Unstable Structures. Like many natural disasters, flood water can cause structural damage to buildings. It is unsafe to enter homes or businesses without the proper clearance.
  • Chemical Poisoning. Flood waters are likely to be contaminated by oil, gas leaks, pesticides, and other toxic materials.
  • Danger of Displaced Wildlife. Animals are under high stress during natural disasters. Along with house pets like dogs, cats and horses, flood waters can displace wildlife that may attack you due to the strange and stressful conditions.Be cautious around areas that have high amounts of wildlife, such as alligators, snakes, and even floating fire ants.

Don’t Know What To Do Next? We Do.

When it comes to water damage, time is of the essence. Starting the water restoration process immediately is critical to preventing water from severely damaging other areas of your home or property, including floors, upholstery, carpeting, documents, and electronics. Taking quick action can also help prevent the growth of mold. Our commercial restoration services are comprehensive and include more than just water removal. We also offer content packouts, deodorizing, structural repairs, and boarding up and tarping your property to protect it from other damages, vandalism, or trespassers.

Our Flood Restoration and Water Damage Service is the result of decades of experience and is designed to do so much more than just dry out your home or business – it’s meant to get your life back up and running again as quickly as possible with as little disruption as possible.


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