Hurricane Dorian Environmental Cleanup Work

Hurricane Dorian environmental cleanup will involve mold remediation and water damage restoration. But there are other environmental problems waiting as well. This post is very similar to ones I’ve written for other storms. I’m putting this back out because I want to share information about the obvious (and not so obvious) environmental cleanup problems the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian will present.

Hurricane Dorian will leave a mess in its wake. As I’m typing this, the track has Hurricane Dorian making landfall in Central Florida. From there Hurricane Dorian could track out into the Gulf of Mexico, and from there it’s anybody’s guess what will happen.

Typically, storm coverage and talk of response and cleanup after focus on mold. Mold problems as a result of storms and floods are a big problem. But there are plenty of other environmental problems awaiting homeowners, business owners, schools, and everyone else.

Hurricane Dorian environmental cleanup is going to take some time. Response work, particularly environmental work, must balance speediness and caution.

I know everyone wants to get in, gut out the nasty stuff, and get everything cleaned up and put back together. But sometimes hasty cleanup efforts can make more of a mess if we don’t stop and assess all the potential environmental hazards in the work areas.

New Mold and Old Mold – What?

There are a lot of mold problems out there. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell new mold and moisture problems from years (or decades!) old problems, especially when you factor in the chaos storm recovery work. 

Just as in other storms and floods, I think we’re going to see more mold problems that seem to appear overnight. That’s not entirely true – in some cases the mold was there, maybe for quite a while, waiting for the right opportunity. The right opportunity can take the form of floodwater, roof leaks, or extended power outages foster the right environment for mold growth to take off.

So as you clean up, keep a close watch on your buildings – you may see mold come back where you thought it was cleaned up. Or you may see “new” mold. Either way, make sure to get the areas dry and cleaned up. No one likes mold remediation, and it’s certainly less fun the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th time around. Skip that if you can.

 

Asbestos and Lead

Hurricane Dorian environmental cleanup is going to bring about a lot of renovation and demolition work that will disturb asbestos and lead. Don’t get so focused on mold that you ignore other hazards.

Asbestos and lead are more commonplace than you may think. If you knew how many buildings out there (including homes!) contain asbestos and lead, you may be surprised.

If you don’t breathe or swallow asbestos or lead, you won’t have a problem. But don’t ignore the potential hazards. And don’t listen to anyone that tells you there’s a date cutoff for use of asbestos or lead. Just because your home or building was constructed in 1990, that’s not a 100% guarantee you won’t have asbestos or lead to deal with.

Many contractors think to check for asbestos and lead before beginning demolition. Others, however, don’t. Contractors may put (or try to anyway) the burden on you or the building owner to notify them of hazardous materials and conditions.

 

Giving the contractor a comprehensive scope of work is a great idea. While developing the scope takes time, everyone should have a clear understanding of what’s expected of everyone on the project team. And with everything going on, many times emotion clouds people’s recollection of conversations.

Keep in mind the so-called “other” safety hazards. Protect your hands, eyes, head, and even your ears. Slips, trips, and falls remain the number one cause of job site injuries and deaths. Approach all Hurricane Dorian environmental cleanup as you would a real project. After all, that’s what it is, even if you’re doing the work yourself.

Also don’t forget to protect yourself against hazards that may be present in the cleaning chemicals you (or your contractors) will use.

How will you tackle Hurricane Dorian environmental cleanup? We have free documents that will help you in recovery work. The documents include:

U.S. EPA Potential Environmental Health Hazards When Returning to Homes and Businesses

LSU Ag Center Mold Control Tips

 

How are you preparing for Hurricane Dorian?

Are you ready? Do you have any tips or project stories you’d like to share? Submit a comment below or email me.