As Hurricane Sandy crippled east coast communities, we again put our emergency restoration plan into action. In late October, Woodard deployed service vehicles to aid in Hurricane Sandy storm cleanup efforts. Our team of 12 comprised a caravan of two pickup trucks with 48′ trailers, a bobcat, two box trucks and two support vehicles. These trucks and trailers were loaded full of flood pumping and debris removal equipment, extraction tools, drying equipment, cleaning supplies and other provisions. The team focused its efforts in Long Beach, a barrier island on Long Island’s Atlantic side, at a condominium complex of 150 units. Planning for Deployment Woodard relies on a large operations team based in Saint Louis that supports our travelling crews. Preparation had to come together quickly, yet methodically and it’s an initiative that requires the dedication of every team member. Logistics are coordinated amongst the operations staff, from research, maps and directions, flights, lodging, fuel, additional equipment rental (namely generators), and coordinating with partner organizations. The operations staff also coordinates moving the trailers, loading and inspecting vehicles, testing the equipment and coordinating the deployment team. With such widespread havoc on the east coast, the logistics behind Hurricane Sandy restoration are more complicated than a typical day at the office, especially since even the basic necessities like fuel and batteries were impossible to come by. Even paying for meals was a challenge, as outlets were only accepting cash due to power outage and downed telephone and internet lines. As Chief Information Officer Justin Woodard planned to deploy his team, he noted, “It is almost impossible to train to enter a disaster zone like this–we are prepared for the mitigation work, but we have to learn, adapt and be flexible. The best training we have is on disaster sites, every day.” Water Removal from Flooded Spaces With damage from hurricanes and similar severe storms, your home is best trusted to service professionals who know how to thoroughly treat effects of moisture and mold. Standing water is considered “grossly unsanitary” in our industry and acting quickly to remove water from flooded spaces is crucial to mitigate damage. Water removal from spaces affected by Hurricane Sandy brought some unique challenges. In addition to large amounts of water, the ocean carried in tons of sand, furthering the extent of the damage. Standing water also contains dissolved organisms such as mud, fertilizers, insecticides, feces, household chemicals, fuel, solvents and other dangerous elements. In the presence of such moisture penetration within homes, bacterial growth is always of key concern. Cold and freezing weather conditions in many areas affected by Hurricane Sandy slowed microbial growth to some degree, which allowed our clean-up crews a bit more time to prepare and respond appropriately without the threat of rapid bacterial growth that can occur in warmer weather, causing further damage. After teams extracted the water, our next step was removal of all walls, flooring and in many cases ceilings. Crews then dry out the studs and any remaining structural elements. Reconstruction will be handled by contractors at the local level. With the Hurricane Sandy project, unfortunately the level of destruction from the hurricane left the vast majority of the condominium project’s first floor and units below grade unsalvageable. Ensuring Your Home’s Safety Post-Cleanup Simply removing water and tearing down impacted structural elements does not remedy the issue in its entirety. As noted above, mold spores are nearly everywhere in homes ravaged by storm and flooding. They grow quickly and spread without always being visible to the naked eye. To reduce potential for microbial growth, appropriate drying processes should be handled professionally. Sanitizing the space is critical to make it safe for you and your family. Woodard professionals are equipped to properly dry these spaces and ensure that any moisture sources behind walls or under floorboards is measured, monitored and treated properly. If the building does have some structural integrity post-storm with elements inside that can be restored, lack of sufficient drying can lead to warped floors and eventual rebuilding needs. We understand that the recovery efforts from Hurricane Sandy will continue for many weeks. Woodard is proud to have been a small part of the cleanup and return to normalcy for residents of St. Louis, Missouri. With any storm destruction you may experience, Woodard’s restoration crews are standing by, ready to assist. You can reach us 24/7 at 314-266-0373, or visit our contact page.