If your home has water damage of any kind in the wake of Tropical Storm Ida, mildew and mold will develop within 24-48 hours of water exposure, according to FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency).
How to Begin the Cleanup
If the moldy area is less than about 10 square feet, you can likely handle the cleanup yourself, according to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). The EPA doesn’t recommend using bleach to kill or remove mold. Instead, use vinegar for small outbreaks. Pour plain, white distilled vinegar into a spray bottle and spray directly onto the mold. Let it sit for an hour and, if necessary, scrub using a baking soda solution made of 1 teaspoon of baking soda and 2 cups of water in a spray bottle. Rinse the area with clean, warm water and repeat as needed. Consult a health professional if you have concerns about exposure and wear gloves, goggles and other protective gear during cleanup.
When to Call a Professional
If you have or can purchase a wet vac or dehumidifier, use them to remove excess water and keep the moisture content down. Run as many fans as possible and keep doors and windows open.
If the moldy area is more extensive, call a professional service provider with experience cleaning mold. Due to high demand, they may not be able to help right away which is why starting the cleanup process on your own as soon as possible is critical.
If you suspect that your heating/ventilation/air conditioning (HVAC) system may be contaminated with mold, don’t run the system since it could spread the mold. Check the EPA’s guide Should You Have the Air Ducts in Your Home Cleaned? before taking any more action.
If the water and/or mold damage was caused by sewage or other contaminated water, call a professional.
More Important Things to Know
1. Document the damage with as much detail as possible with photos and videos.
2. Call your insurance company if you own your home and your landlord if you rent. Contact your insurance company about any water damage regardless of whether you rent or own.
3. Make sure to vet professionals as much as possible and check for reviews online.
Remember that flooding, especially in Central and North Jersey, could get worse later Thursday and into Friday if multiple rivers crest above a major flood stage. Be mindful of this and avoid unnecessary travel to areas that have been flooded.