Tips and resources for clean-up efforts in Hurricane Harvey's aftermath

Now that Hurricane Harvey is no longer hovering over the Greater Houston area, officials are switching from response and rescue mode into recovery efforts. Homeowners and business owners are currently in a critical timeframe in which they must actively address water damage in their residences and businesses to begin the recovery process.

Here are what residents need to know:

Document damages to homes and businesses


1. Check to see if your county is on the Presidential Disaster Declaration. If so, county residents affected by Hurricane Harvey are eligible to receive individual assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Homeowners and business owners can register for FEMA assistance at disasterassistance.gov.

2. Montgomery County Habitat for Humanity shared on Twitter some steps those affected by flooding in their homes need to do in the first 24 hours after flood waters recede. Before beginning the cleaning process, take pictures of every room from every angle to document damages for insurance adjusters. In addition, take photos during and after  cleaning efforts.

3. The Montgomery County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management website has resources for homeowners and business owners whose property were damaged by flooding. In addition to recording damages and losses at disasterassistance.gov, residents can alert county officials of debris in front of homes or businesses by clicking “Debris Pick Up & Damage Report Form” on the OEM website, according to OEM officials.

How to clean and sanitize damaged structures


1. The FEMA website recommends beginning the cleaning process by opening all doors, windows, and affected cabinets or drawers. If the structure’s electricity is safely operating, turn on fans or air conditioning to begin dehumidifying the area.

2. According to FEMA, all personnel assisting entering a structure with visible mold growth should wear appropriate clothing and protection, which include rubber gloves and proper respiratory masks.

3. FEMA recommends removing unsalvageable items, like sofas, bedding and other wet, damaged materials out of the structure and to a space where an insurance adjuster can evaluate it at a later date.

4. Montgomery County Habitat for Humanity recommends homeowners to cut out all sheet rock and insulation 4 inches above the highest watermark, and rip out affected carpeting and padding. Save all debris in a plastic bag or store away to show insurance adjuster at a later date.

5. After removing damaged walls and flooring, mix 3/4 cup of Clorox regular-bleach per one gallon of water then transfer to a spray bottle for sanitizing. The FEMA website warns that regular bleach water has its limitations, and disinfectants and sanitizers registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, such as Clorox regular-bleach, are better for cleaning flood-impacted buildings. Generously spray all walls and affected areas inside and outside of homes and businesses to kill mold and mildew. After the first coat dries, repeat this process as many times as possible.

6. If electrical and HVAC systems have been restored and sanitized, residents can use fans, dehumidifiers and wet-dry vacuum cleaners to remove as much water as possible, according to Habitat for Humanity.

Protect your home and yourself


1. During a county press briefing on Wednesday afternoon, Montgomery County Sheriff Rand Henderson said MCSO has received reports of individuals and companies posing as accredited repairmen. Henderson said individuals should call their local Sheriff’s Office or visit the Better Business Bureau if they are questioning whether companies are accredited.

2. Jon Hallmark, managing partner of Hallmark Mitigation and Construction in Kingwood, recommends residents hiring local help when repairing property. Hallmark said local contractors provide a level of accountability if there are future issues.

3. During Wednesday’s press briefing, a Montgomery County Public Health District official said residents and first responders should stay up-to-date on immunizations and wear long-sleeved T-shirts, pants and gloves during the cleanup and recovery phase. People should dump standing water to minimize mosquito-breeding grounds, be cautious when moving debris and dirt that may have bacteria, and use EPA-registered insect repellants to protect against mosquito-borne illnesses.

4. Click here to find out if you qualify for Disaster Employment Assistance from the Texas Workforce Commission.

Correction: A previous version of this article represented an incorrect ratio of Clorox regular-bleach to water when cleaning a damaged structure. The article has been updated to the correct ratio.
By Kelly Schafler

Editor, Lake Houston | Humble | Kingwood

Kelly Schafler is the editor for the Lake Houston, Humble and Kingwood edition of Community Impact Newspaper, covering public education, city government, development, businesses, local events and all things community-related. Before she became editor, she was the reporter for the Conroe and Montgomery edition for a year and a half.



MOST RECENT

As positive coronavius cases continue to climb acrossTexas, the Greater Tomball Area Chamber of Commerce decided to cancel its annual Tomball Night. (Anna Lotz/Community Impact Newspaper)
Annual Tomball Night, Parade of Lights canceled due to health concerns

The event has been canceled to maintain safety and prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Roy's Breakfast and Lunch opened in May for dine-in, to-go and delivery through Uber Eats. (Courtesy Roy's Breakfast and Lunch)
Roy's Breakfast and Lunch now open on FM 529 at Enchanted Creek Drive in Cypress

The eatery opened in May for dine-in, to-go and delivery through Uber Eats.

Here are the coronavirus data updates to know today in Galveston County. (Community Impact staff)
Galveston County coronavirus cases near 4,000 going into July Fourth weekend

Galveston County saw 425 new cases of COVID-19 July 2 and 3, putting cases at 3,990 just before the holiday weekend.

vote
Fort Bend County official: Early voters 'turning out in record numbers’ for July 14 primary runoff

2020 primary runoff voter turnout totaled 5.66% for the first week of early voting when including in-person and mail-in ballots.

CBD American Shaman at Park Row
CBD American Shaman opens in Katy area

The business opened June 19.

Houston coronavirus testing
Coronavirus testing: Where to find testing sites in Houston the week of July 6

Here is the latest information on how and where to find coronavirus testing locations in Houston

George Floyd protest Houston
Defund or defend: After years of bolstering Houston police, city leaders consider paths to reform

After protests and forums, what will happen to promises of police reform?

New COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths all rose in Harris County from July 3-5.
Harris County coronavirus count: 2,489 new cases, 13 deaths confirmed over holiday weekend July 3-5

Active COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations hit all-time highs in Harris County on July 5.

Sugar Land 95 activist Reginald Moore dies at 60

Moore may be best known for his work to raise awareness about the Texas prison system's convict-leasing system, which provided prisoners to plantation owners who labored on farms and in other industries.

Zeneakia Ilo opened House of Zen Med Spa June 17 at 25282 Hwy. 290, Ste. 160, Cypress. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
House of Zen Med Spa now open at Hwy. 290 and Skinner Road in Cypress

The spa offers a variety of treatments as well as an oxygen bar.

The outdoor pavilion at the Langham Creek Family YMCA has been converted into an open-air studio for group exercise classes, featuring 8,000 square feet of covered turf space outfitted with fitness equipment. (Courtesy YMCA of Greater Houston)
Langham Creek YMCA completes renovation of outdoor pavilion, gym, child watch area

Renovations to the indoor and outdoor fitness areas were made with social distancing in mind.

Since 2005, the venue had served as a local dance hall featuring live country music, having hosted musicians including Josh Abbott Band, Cross Canadian Ragweed, Kyle Park, Turnpike Troubadours and Easton Corbin, among others. (Courtesy Big Texas Spring)
Following second round of statewide bar closures, Big Texas Spring announces permanent closure

The statement reads: "With the Governor recently announcing that bars are again closed, we now know that it will not be possible to operate again."