CORVALLIS - Those who went through the floods of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers in 1994 have words of wisdom for Pacific North westerners who are trying to recover from the recent floods. Be careful during clean up and be patient - a house takes many weeks or months to dry out.

"I've been on the phone this week to my midwestern counterparts who went through the 1994 Mississippi-Missouri floods," said Mary Ann Sward, housing specialist with the Oregon State University Extension Service. "What they stressed is that most of their accidents and injuries occurred not during the flood, but during flood cleanup.

"People should be careful, as many accidents happen when people are tired and stressed," Sward said. "Be sure to keep children from flood-contaminated water. And protect yourself with rubber gloves and boots etc. when you are cleaning up."

Most people do not realize how long it takes for a house to dry out.

"In the Mississippi-Missouri flood, walls took many months, in some cases more than a year to dry," said Sward. "A wall may seem dry on the outside, only to stay wet on the inside for months. Many insurance claims adjusters don't know enough about flood damage to know about the extent of wall damage and they under-adjust.

"Homeowners and adjusters alike are reticent to cut into a wall to see if it is wet," she said. "But in the long run it is cheaper to find out the extent of your damage right now, instead of finding out months later after your claim is settled."

Local county offices of the OSU Extension Service have more than 20 publications or fact sheets on hand to help homeowners clean up after the flood. Titles include:

  • Cleaning and Repairing Flooded Basements
  • Electrical Systems and Applications
  • Restoring Heating Systems After a Flood
  • Flood-Damaged Walls, Ceilings and Floors
  • Drying and Repairing Walls
  • Assessing and Repairing Leaky Roofs
  • Flood-Damaged Furniture and Appliances
  • Flooded Private Sewage Systems
  • Caring for Important Papers

Contact county offices of the OSU Extension Service for copies of the materials.

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Mary Ann Sward, 541-737-1018