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How to Salvage Your Valuables after Serious Flooding

Mary H. J. Farrell : Sep 19, 2018 : Consumerreports.org

For one, FEMA recommends not waiting for your insurance adjuster before cleaning up. Instead, document the flooding damage on your cell phone or camera.

airlift(Washington, DC)— [Consumerreports.org] Hurricane Florence dumped a lot of water on the Carolinas. Their lives upended by water, residents are now faced with mucking out their homes, tearing out saturated drywall, and trying to recover as many keepsakes and family treasures as possible. (Photo: via Consumer Reports)

Saving your valuables can be a race against the clock because mold can form within 48 hours. To help, the Heritage Emergency National Task Force, cosponsored by FEMA and the Smithsonian Institution, has developed guidelines for how to salvage what you want and dispose of what can't be saved.

The first step is to determine what type of water you're dealing with—salty, dirty, or contaminated by sewage or chemicals. If your valuables have come in contact with toxic water during flooding, you might have to call a professional conservator because trying to clean them yourself can be a health risk. If the water was untainted, then take steps to reduce the humidity around your items as you work to clean and dry them. Here's how from FEMA's checklist:

Save Your Valuables

Prioritize. You may not be able to save everything after flooding, so focus on what's most important to you, whether for sentimental or monetary reasons.

"We always hear about dollar-amount damages, but often the losses that affect us the most are the ones to which a dollar amount cannot be assigned," says Lori Foley, administrator of the Heritage Emergency National Task Force. "What do you own that you'd miss terribly if you lost it? Photographs of loved ones in frames, albums, or shoeboxes? Books and paintings passed down through generations? Grandma's recipe box?"

Air-dry. Gentle air-drying indoors is best. Weather permitting, open your windows to increase indoor airflow. If it's too hot and humid, use fans, air conditioners and dehumidifiers. Avoid using hair dryers, irons, ovens, and prolonged exposure to sunlight, which can do irreversible damage.

Handle with care. Delicate items can be especially fragile when wet, so be careful when you handle them. Separate sodden materials by removing photographs from damp albums and taking paintings and prints out of their frames. Place white paper towels between every few pages of wet books. Subscribe for free to Breaking Christian News here.

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