How to Clean Up After Hurricane Harvey Flood Damage

Flooding from Hurricane Harvey has caused damage across many communities.  Below are some helpful tips for cleaning up after flood damage.


  • In the event that your home floods, it is important to first make sure that all living creatures, both humans and animals, are safely removed from the damaged dwelling until safety precautions can assess the damage and reinforce any compromised areas of the structure.
  • Because both flood and fire damage is typically covered by insurance companies, your next step should be to contact your insurance company to report the severity of the damage.
  • Emergency services team are often able to assist homeowners in understanding their options when dealing with their insurance company.
  • Before the professional cleaning crews and contractors come to help rebuild, it would be easier for them to work if all of your personal, undamaged possessions were removed from their working space.
  • Be aware that all furniture will be automatically removed from the house in order to properly inspect the damaged area(s).
  • If furniture is damaged, contractors will recommend treating these damaged items as if they are a part of the rest of the house, which may need to be repaired and/or remodeled.
  • However, because everyone’s situation is different, contractors can advise homeowners as to the best way to handle their situation.

First Steps to Combat Further Water Damage

The basic procedure for combatting water damage is to first locate the leak and shut it off.  The next step is to locate and remove any electricity that may be near the affected areas. Excess water should be removed by paper towels, industrial grade pumps, or mops, depending on the severity of the damage. Loose household items should be removed and properly cleaned.  All infected areas should be properly dried out, disinfected, and sanitized, in order to prevent future problems.


When it comes to mold or mildew in the house, it is vitally important to remove the threat, before your family’s health is compromised.  Because mold can cause severe respiratory problems and diseases, sightings of mold should be taken very seriously.  Black mold (Stachybotrys chartarum) is very expensive to remove.  However, if a flood damaged home is dealt with immediately, via replacing some drywall, the spread of mold and mildew can be contained and possibly prevented altogether.

Types of Water Damage

  • Clean water damage is water damage from clean water sources, like pipes or clean water appliances, as well as sinks.  This type of water damage causes no threat to humans.
  • Gray water damage is water damage from contained spaces, usually from toilet bowls without the presence of feces, dishwashers, or washing machines.  This water contains dangerous chemicals, both biological and physical, that can cause discomfort or sickness to those who come into contact with it.
  • Black water damage is water damage from unsanitary holding areas, usually originating from sewage, ground surface water, or standing water.  Gray water that is not removed or not properly disposed within 48-72 hours can become harmful like black water, because it contains bacteria and fungi, which can both cause discomfort and/or sickness.


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