There are thousands of homes that have recently been devastated by Hurricane Harvey. Equally, there are thousands who have volunteered to help. If you are interested in helping to clear out a house, make sure you know these tips before you start:
- Don’t count on the organization you are volunteering with to provide all of the necessary equipment, tools, and protection. You need to make sure that you have everything you need to be able to pack materials, move heavy furniture, pull fiberglass or sheet rock, etc. Bring items such as water bottles (or a canister of water), a face breathing mask, protective eye wear, and gloves.
- Don’t start tackling a home until you have confirmed with the owner that they have first taken pictures of everything (including the water line stains for measurement). Secondl, they should have contacted their insurance agent to confirm with them that it is okay to start demolition. Lastly, ask the owner before you start packing and tearing down walls or cabinets. Remember that the person whose home was just damaged is probably in a state of shock or devastation. Seeing their items being thrown away might be a little too much for them to handle.
- Know how to constructively gut a house. Walls should be marked at either 2 feet or at 4 feet and no where in between or above. This will help professional sheet rock installers, and will cut labor costs in half for the homeowner. Precisely measure out how high the water rose in their home and then measure accordingly before cutting into the wall.
- The general rule to follow is to throw away anything that touched water. Mold and germs easily develop in flood waters and on things that have touched the water, including clothes, walls, cabinets, toys, and carpets. Mold cannot be washed or soaked out of these items. Some furniture and cabinets may be able to be replaced under warranty. Check with the home owner first.
- If you struggle with any type of condition (such as allergies or joint aches) that limits your capability to stand or do extraneous activity for long periods of time, DON’T put yourself at risk. This is a very physical job that requires being able to bend down, lift, and stand for hours. There are many ways to volunteer to help victims of Hurricane Harvey.