Professional cleaners explain what's in the floodwaters, why leftover mold is hazardous

Professional cleaners explain what's in the floodwaters, why leftover mold is hazardous
(Source: WAFB)
(Source: WAFB)
(Source: WAFB)
(Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - As people in area parishes are calling their insurers and FEMA, professional cleaners, who are going in after the flood waters receded, have also been slammed.

The phones are ringing around the clock at clean-up companies like Guarantee Restoration Services for professionals to come in to gut and dry out the homes that took in even an inch of water.

"Our crews have been working 12-hour days for about the past three weeks," said Guarantee CEO Shawn Folks.

Folks said three weeks because they have also had to help the tornado victims. It was the same with another company, Servpro.

"We have been extremely busy," said Steve Lechich, Servpro's sales and marketing manager.

Servpro crews were in Livingston Parish, specifically in Holden, demolishing water logged walls and starting to dry out homes to make sure there is no mold.

"With water, you want to act as possible," said Lechich.

"Mold can generally start to grow within 24 to 48 hours," said Folks.

The reason? The floodwaters are different from your typical recreational water.

"Not only does it bring in everything from the floods but everything that was in the yard. Everything that had dog and animal feces, the oil in the grass or yard, it brings it all in and when it leaves, it leaves that film and residue on all your home," said Folks.

That is why both companies suggest if someone is going to do it on their own, they should wear rubber gloves and a mask and use bleach, soap and water. However, they suggest hiring professional help because even cleaning the mold can cause health problems.

"We've been living with mold forever, but when there's more mold inside the house than outside the house, it becomes a hazard to people," said Folks.

Mold becomes a health hazard when it is more concentrated inside a home than outside. The most infamous type is called "black mold" and usually comes about on water damaged buildings.

The health hazards include chronic coughing, sneezing, irritation to the eyes, even rashes, chronic fatigue and persistent headaches.

Both companies said their phones are ringing nonstop, but they are only getting busier and expect even more calls over the coming days and weeks, especially from Livingston and Ascension parishes.

"The water is starting to go down. Homeowners, residents are starting to file claims and obviously we've heard of news of FEMA stepping in for assistance," said Lechich.

Anyone whose home flooded needs to call FEMA first to file a claim at 1-800-621-FEMA.

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