Sunday, September 4, 2011

Hurricane Irene Clean Up Continues

We are fortunate and have been counting our blessings.

While Hurricane Irene gave us minor basement flooding, we were able to keep it under control and it didn't damage anything significant.

Other families and businesses in Upstate NY didn't fare so well. A family in our town can't live in their house right now. Major basement flooding left them with a floating hot water heater and a posted sign on their front door. Luckily, they have family to stay with. The extended family of a woman that belongs to the same church we do lost their entire family farm. All of this year's crops are gone. This farm supports several families.

There are many stories like this.

It's a bit strange, really. Pockets of the area are practically untouched by the hurricane or have minor damage, like we did. All of our immediate neighbors are fine, as well.

Yet, some areas are severely damage. This damage is extreme and includes mudslides in Troy, NY that damaged several houses and a small town in the Catskills that is essentially gone thanks to flood waters.

On Monday, the day after the storm, local rivers still hadn't crested. By Tuesday, most had. Several area roads were closed due to flooding and many people I know had to take a detour to work, including my husband.

It's like there's a patch work quilt of damage in the area. Some areas are okay, some not so much.

For us, things are returning to normal. On the home front, I spent Monday and Tuesday cleaning up from our flood. Minor as it was, it was still more moisture in the basement than is healthy. Even minor flooding can lead to mold, mildew and odor issues. And, we had some serious odor issues the first couple of days after Irene.

Here's what we did to clean it up:

1. Dry everything out as much as possible. We opened all the windows and doors to air out the house. We pointed every fan we have toward a damp area of the basement, laundry room or finished family room. It took several days, but everything dried out by the end of the week.

2. Remove water-damaged cardboard. There were a few cardboard boxes that were storing things (mostly old computer junk) in the utility room that were water logged. These were all tossed.

3. Wipe down floors and walls in affected areas with a bleach and water mixture. I've read mixed reviews on whether or not bleach helps with flood clean up. But, honestly, it felt like the right thing to do. And, the bleach smell is a clean smell, so I went for it.

4. Set out dishes of white vinegar to help combat the odor. This is a tried and true way to deal with odor. I put two dishes of vinegar in the basement over night. If you can get past the vinegar smell, it really does help absorb other odors. Once the dishes are gone, the vinegar smell is gone and the offending odor is greatly reduced.

5. Buy and use a dehumidifier to further combat the musty odor. We've needed a dehumidifier for years. Hurricane Irene was the kick in the pants we needed to finally buy one. It's been running for two days and the musty odor is finally gone!

Now that the house is back in order after the Hurricane, I'm declaring September "Home Improvement Month".  Two out of three kids will be back in school, the weather will be cooler and I'll have time to tackle some of those projects that are still hanging over my head.

For further reading on how to combat musty basement smells, check out Mrs. Clean's article Musty Smell Removal.


  1. Our basement flooded 2.5 years ago after a pipe burst, and the water flowed for over an hour. It was several inches deep, but it wasn't so bad as to make the water heater float. And as horrible as it was to deal with, because the basement was packed with all sorts of stuff, it was one of the biggest blessings in disguise we've ever had.

    About 10 months after the flood, when we still had all our salvageable belongings from the basement in a storage pod on the driveway, I saw my first episode of Hoarders. I was terrified to recognize myself in so many of the people who appeared on the show, and I knew I had to do something about it. I often wonder, if I'd have been as receptive to the show, if the pipe hadn't burst in the first place.

    I look forward to catching up with your blog between bouts of dehoarding. :)

  2. So good you took care of your mold. We have the same vintage home as you do, however we don't have a basement here in Florida. However, we did have mold that creeped from one bathroom into our guest bedroom. It was a major project to get ride of the problem with a tiled shower and wall. Fortuntely our home owner's insurance did cover it. Love following your blog. You are a good writer and inspire me. Glad you damage was minimal.

  3. Judy - Thank you for sharing your story!

    Carol - Thank you! You inspire me, too!