Floodwaters recede but leave behind thousands of dollars in damage and health hazards

(WKOW) — It’s been weeks since southern Wisconsin was first hit by record rain and historic flooding. Despite the last few sunny days, people are still feeling the effects of the rain.
Restoration companies throughout the area are working to help those affected, and they expect to be busy for the next two years because of the flooding.
Madison Property Restoration owner Randy Schmidt says they’re doing their best to help as many people as possible start to dry things out. If people don’t get things dry, our homes can become the perfect breeding ground for mold.
“Molds that are in homes love the temperatures between 50 and 80 degrees and they eat organic matter like paper and wood it’s really hard to control mold,” Schmidt said. “The only thing you can control is the water.”
Even if it doesn’t seem like a lot of water, it can still wreak havoc.
“A little bit of water can do a lot of damage,” said Schmidt. “There’s thousands of dollars worth of damage in this one room.”
Assessing thousands of dollars of damage has become a daily occurrence for Schmidt.
“After the storm on the 20th our phones started ringing about 3 o’clock in the morning with people calling looking for help,” said Schmidt. “It hasn’t stopped ringing.”
Lack of manpower and resources mean Madison Property Restoration can’t help everyone who calls.
“Unfortunately I’ve had to turn away probably five times as many clients as I’ve been able to help and where they went, I don’t know,” said Schmidt. “Everyone in the county is busy.”
Schmidt and his crew are helping homeowner George Rueckert of Cross Plains.
“I was very happy that we were able to get somebody in this quickly,” Rueckert said.
Rueckert lives on a hill and thought he would be safe, but the water came in through a window.
“The water then seeped down through the walls and the standing water in the walls is what, of course, caused the mold,” Rueckert said.
Schmidt is using a thermal imaging camera to find hidden wet spots. Left untreated, mold will not just grow, but over time begin to spread.
“When things get wet they get colder,” Schmidt said while using a thermal imaging camera. “So if you see all the dark areas, in this wall, they’re all wet.”
Madison Property Restoration is cutting away part of the wall to fix the problem.
“We’ve got 41 percent moisture content inside the two by fours in this wall,” Schmidt said.
The normal amount of moisture is under 10 percent.
“Right now if we left this wall closed and did nothing, mold would continue to grow inside the walls of this entire room,” Schmidt said.
It only takes about three days of something being wet for mold to grow and make that item unsalvageable.
Some people don’t notice a little bit of mold until it spreads and becomes an even bigger problem.
For Rueckert, the mold became an issue quickly for more reasons than the unsightly marks.
“I have allergies of various kinds,” said Rueckert.
But medical problems aren’t the only issues caused by mold.
“If you were trying to sell your house the fact that you have mold in your house depreciates your home’s value significantly,” said Schmidt. “And then the odor, if you walk into a house with real bad mold issues you can smell it everywhere in the house.”
If you’re worried about water and potential for mold, schmidt is urging people to act fast.
“If you house is wet right now you should do something soon,” Schmidt said. “If you can’t find help from professionals you’re going to have to do it yourself. But do it now. Because whatever you think it will cost you now it will cost you a lot more later if your house gets full of mold.”
Madison Property Restoration is booked out for several weeks.
Schmidt says he’s advising people who can’t find help to call restoration companies in other cities like Janesville, Milwaukee or even as far as Chicago. He says he knows restoration companies are company from far away to help.
The Environmental Protection Agency says research on mold is ongoing and allergy reactions are common.  They can range from irritation of the eyes, skin, and nose to causing asthma attacks in some people.
Amanda Hari

Amanda Hari

Reporter, WKOW

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