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Flood Advice July 2007

24 July 2007

As the flood water subside and the clean up begins, PFM scoured the internet to find where readers can find useful advice flood damage - what to do now and in the future.

Flood preparation guide for businesses

English Heritage technical guidance on first aid measures to be taken in the aftermath of floods, and on flood disaster preparedness.

1. Contact your insurers and obtain permission to start work as soon as possible.
2. If there are any concerns about the structure of the property always consult a chartered surveyor, who will be able to advise.
3. Don't move back into a property that contains standing water - pump it out first. Clean and disinfect everything that may have come into contact with the floodwater.
4. After removing the damaged furniture, open up the voids beneath floorboards, basement areas etc and remove all surplus water.
5. Heat and ventilate the building but don't forget about home security. Alternatively, use dehumidifiers and after a thorough safety check on the electricity, gas etc, close the windows, heat the property and run the dehumidifiers to remove as much moisture from the structure as possible.
6. Generally, masonry (brickwork or block work) should be largely unaffected by the water if it is allowed to properly dry out. The drying out process may take some time if the masonry has been saturated. As a guide, allow one month for every inch of wall thickness.
7. Plaster may have to be replaced, plasterboard almost certainly will.
8. Timber will dry satisfactorily if dried quickly, or treated. In the case of older properties, which tend to have a greater proportion of timber, it is best to seek specialist advice.
9. Waterproof grades of chipboard, MDF and plywood should be okay, but if there is any evidence of swelling you should consider replacing it.
If you have cavity insulation, get it checked out as the water may have affected it.

Hutton + Rostron Environmental Investigations Ltd
There are a number of measures that are specified by H+R after massive water ingress into a structure subsequent to flooding or water ingress during and after the fire. These improve drying and reduce the time required before refurbishment and reoccupancy can occur. The general principles are laid out below in order of priority. It is essential that the higher priority measures be undertaken before those lower down the list. Failure to do this will make the works undertaken at best ineffective and may even make them counter productive. H+R can provide detailed investigations and specifications for these measures to ensure cost-effective drying and early refurbishment in each case.
1. Drain water clear of the structure and prevent further water penetration by the use of temporary roof and ground drainage systems, if required.
2. Remove all damp materials and debris from the structure, including all damp furnishings, fittings, carpets, rubbish, damp infill and collapsed building materials.
3. Demolish or otherwise remove all parts of the structure not to be retained on refurbishment. In particular, remove any damp plaster, masonry masses or floor infills.
4. Provide through ventilation to all parts of the structure, including all structural cavities such as sub-floor voids, chimney stacks and wall cavities. Fix all doors, cupboards, hatches and windows in a partially open position.
5. Identify all moisture reservoirs in the structure.
6. Remove all impermeable finishes from moisture reservoirs, wherever possible. Strip all water and salt damaged plaster and finishes to expose structures behind.
7. Detail refurbishment of building to include moisture sinks such as through ventilated dry lining systems, permeable or microporous finishes and structural heating systems so as to allow continued drying during and after refurbishment.
8. Consider the installation of accelerated drying machinery, if required. The use of the high capacity desiccant dehumidifiers, tenting and fans is recommended, as specified by an independent specialist. Consider the use of heating and mechanical ventilation systems. Note that accelerated drying requires a lot of management time.
H+R have provided specialist advice after fire and flood for over 20 years to property owners, insurance companies and loss adjusters, including The Royal Household at Windsor Castle

Publication: Repairing you home or business after a flood - how to limit the damage and disruption in future. (2006)

In the event of flooding, there may be risks of ill health due to water-borne infection.
There are also potential risks from chemical contamination and the psychological trauma caused by flooding should not be underestimated.

From PFM AUGUST 2007 - Views

It's not just flooding
Flooding and more importantly flash floods can occur at virtually no notice and leave homes and businesses devastated by a wash of unclean and murky water, writes Alan Johnson.

Businesses that are flooded face the demoralising task of not only cleaning up but claiming from the insurer for the damage and potentially the loss of business. Current thinking is that more frequent flooding is not the only risk facing domestic and commercial property owners. Climate change is heralding a whole new set of extreme conditions for the UK including susceptibility to minor earthquakes, tornadoes, coastal erosion and long periods of drought.

The Government is also concerned about the potentially devastating adverse effects of pandemics (e.g. Avian Flu), terrorist activities and large scale food or water contamination. We understand that Local Authorities are being asked to ensure they can continue to operate in all circumstances. These requirements are being cascaded down the supplier chain and it is likely that all businesses will be required to have published a robust disaster recovery plan.

A new British Standard (BS 25999 (Business Continuity Management [BCM]) is being worked upon by the British Standards Institute and will soon be available to provide more detailed guidance. This standard will specify the requirements for setting up and managing an effective Business Continuity Management System (BCMS). The draft of this standard is available for review and/or comment from the British Standards website. Some of the points it covers are:
.. Anyone who complies with the standard will assure that its key suppliers and partners have an effective BCMS in place
..Training and assessment for all those with responsibilities under an organisation's BCMS, including assessing competencies, conducting training needs analysis and the provision and evaluation of training provided
..Making sure BCM is at the core of business values
..Communicating the importance of BCM to all staff with ongoing programs for awareness and information
..A minimum set of documentation for a BCMS and record keeping procedures
..Impact and risk assessment for the business and the process by which it may be carried out
..The incident response structure for an organisation as well as the plans that are to document how a business will deal with an incident
..Maintenance, monitoring, reviewing and improving the BCMS.

Although this may seem irrelevant to your own business it may very quickly become relevant if those you supply or tender business from, demand that you have sufficient business continuity management in place in order for them to comply with this new standard.

Some organisations may already have a comprehensive system in place and will find it easier to comply. Others however, may not have even considered it, or have put it back in the desk drawer as something to consider later. The importance that is being placed on BCMS is very high and should be something that every business has an awareness of, plus its potential requirements and impacts. From a commercial perspective even minor interruptions or incidents beyond a business' control can result in material loss of income. It is important that your business has adequate business interruptions (loss of profit) cover and that the sums insured are realistic. You should contact your broker or insurer for advice on such areas, many people do not fully understand their policies and exactly what risks they are covered for. This is an oversight that can be costly and devastating to a business.

If you have not considered external factors that can affect your business then the recent flooding should serve as an early warning, problems have arisen for many businesses that were not flooded themselves but their suppliers or supply chain were badly affected. If the businesses that were flooded did not plan adequately or have the correct covers in place then not only is the flooding problematic to clear up, but it could also be the end of their business.
..Alan Johnson is Technical & Broking Director at independent insurance brokers

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