After the Storm: Bob Vila's 12 Hurricane Sandy Cleanup Tips

Hurricane Sandy may have passed, but the cleanup has only just begun. If your home saw flooding, here are a dozen ways to manage the storm damage.

  1. After the Storm

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    Now that Hurricane Sandy has wreaked its havoc on some 50 million people living along the northeastern coast, the storm cleanup begins. If you're in an area that suffered serious damage, take cues from local authorities and FEMA. For everyone else, consider these helpful storm recovery tips.

  2. Take Photographs

    Document damage camera

    Regardless of how minor you think the damage is, take snapshots for possible insurance purposes. If the damage is considerable, be sure to contact your insurance company and FEMA to see what benefits may be available to you.

  3. Extract the Water


    If your basement or house has flooded, extracting the water will be your first order of business. Let your sump pump do its job and take on the rest of the water with a mop or wet vac. Clean any drains that might have been covered by debris.

  4. Keep Air Circulating

    Basement fans

    Open vents and windows and set up a fan to keep fresh air circulating. The sooner everything dries, the less potential for mold, mildew, and permanent damage. Invest in a dehumidifier to remove damp and facilitate in the drying-out process.

  5. Clean with Disinfectant

    Basement cleaning supplies

    Since floodwaters can be filled with variety of contaminants from sewage to chemicals, make sure to clean floors, walls, and furniture with a disinfectant (a solution of warm water and bleach should work). Be sure to wear a mask and gloves.

  6. Remove Wet Drywall

    Drywall damage

    If you have drywall, the water-soaked portion will need to be removed and replaced. The chances of it drying out thoroughly are slim, and it holds the potential for mold and mildew. The same is true for water-damaged insulation behind drywall.

  7. Downed Trees

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    The McDonald Agency

    If your property suffered major tree damage, your state and local municipality or emergency services may help clear the way. If not, contact a tree expert to assess the damage and determine whether it is to be saved or removed.

  8. Damaged Shrubs

    Pruning bushes

    Clean up any debris that might have blown around shrubs. If they were damaged, you will need to do some “mandatory” pruning. Most plants are resilient and will be no worse for wear come summer.

  9. Yard Cleanup

    Tree down in yard

    If you find your yard filled with branches, leaves, and debris, you have some yard work ahead of yourself. Collect the large branches and debris for disposal and use a rake or leaf blower to clear away the rest.

  10. Roofing Issues


    Where there are high winds there is roof damage. Inspect your roof for shingles that might have come loose, dislodged, or blown off. They should be repaired as soon as possible, since the exposed roof deck will be subject to further damp and moisture in the weeks and months ahead.

  11. Roof Damage


    If you suffered more serious damage, consult with a roofing contractor to see how you can protect the interior of your home until a professional repair can be made.

  12. Check for Leaks


    Survey the inside of your house to see if there are any water spots on ceilings or near chimneys. If so, it’s a sign of additional roof problems, the source of which could be anything from compromised shingles to inadequate flashing.

  13. Broken Windows


    If windows have blown out or shattered, board them up until a repair can be made. If it is a small, single pane of glass, you may be able to re-glaze it yourself. If not, contact your local home center or glass store for service.

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