Last month, Governor Brown proposed a $1 billion water-related relief plan. In the midst of a drought of staggering proportions, many were shocked to learn that more than half of the proposed spending is earmarked for flood-control. Weather.com explains: “Funding flood-control at the height of a crippling drought seems paradoxical at first glance, but Brown connected the drought to the potential for ‘extreme weather events’….[Brown stated] ‘all of a sudden, when you’re all focused on drought, you can get massive storms that flood through these channels and overflow and cause havoc.’” Further, California is geographically diverse and sees wide ranging weather conditions at any given moment. In light of these truths, our San Francisco flood injury law firm dedicates this blog entry to discussing two of the most common flood dangers: driving during floods and residential mold after a flood.
“Turn Around, Don’t Drown” – Floods & Driving
There’s one key rule that people should keep in mind when it comes to driving during flooded conditions – don’t. The title of the National Weather Service’s (“NWS”) campaign speaks for itself: “Turn Around, Don’t Drown.” According to the NWS and the Centers for Disease Control, flooding claims more lives each year than any other form of severe weather and more than half of all flood-related drownings involve a vehicle being driven into dangerous flood waters. It only takes six inches of water to knock an average person off his/her feet and two feet of water can carry away most vehicles (many are carried away by even less). Avoiding driving in flood conditions is always the smartest choice whenever possible.
Staying put is the best choice, but sometimes floods take a driver by surprise or travelling is unavoidable (note: remember, there’s a world of difference between inconvenient and unavoidable). If at all possible, adjust your route to avoid flooded stretches of road, even if they don’t appear to be deep. The information portal Wikihow offers tips for drivers facing unavoidable floods. These include: Turn on your hazard lights so others can see you; Drive slowly but avoid stopping in a flooded stretch if possible; Keep the air conditioning off to limit engine damage; Select the highest gear (for an automatic transmission, select 1); and Crack your windows to help ensure you can exit the vehicle if necessary.
Flooding & Residential Mold
After flood waters recede, another danger emerges: mold. While mold is particularly dangerous for those with a pre-existing breathing problem, high levels can sicken even a healthy individual. According to WebMD, you have 24 to 36 hours to take steps to prevent mold after a flood. When flooding is significant, clean-up is often best left to the professionals. If you decide to tackle it yourself, WebMD suggest donning protective clothing, including a mask, and remaining alert for the possibility of electrocution. Begin by pumping out any standing water and move all wet items to a dry workspace. Use a wet vac or similar tool to remove water from carpets. Fans can help circulate air, but consider using a dehumidifier which does a better job because it lowers the moisture level in the air. To dry walls, remove moldings and/or baseboards, which can provide a “welcoming” spot for mold, and cut small openings at the base of walls to help dry the backside of the sheetrock. If mold has had a chance to start growing, the EPA strongly recommends calling a professional. For small areas, a mixture of detergent and hot water can help remove mold. Shifting focus to household items that have been waterlogged or show signs of mold infestation, the linked article contains suggestions on what to save (e.g., nonporous items, wood furniture) and what to toss (e.g., carpets, upholstered furniture, books).
Where Nature Meets Negligence
Flooding is usually courtesy of Mother Nature. That noted, negligence can contribute to flood-related mold and lead to health problems. A claim under the implied warranty of habitability and other landlord/tenant laws may be appropriate where a landlord knows/should know that mold has infested the property but fails to take reasonable steps to eradicate the mold and the mold causes health problems for a tenant. A negligence claim may also be appropriate in a flood-related car accident such as when a driver plows through floodwaters at an inappropriately high speed and causes an accident. If you are facing either of those situations or have otherwise been hurt/sickened because someone else failed to take reasonable steps to deal with flooding in Northern California, call our office. Our experienced San Francisco dangerous flood lawyer can help you recover compensation from those at fault.
Attorney Greg Brod also has substantial experience as a San Francisco flood insurance lawyer. Our team welcomes calls from flooding victims who find their insurance company is either denying their claims or underpaying. You paid premiums, we’ll help you get coverage.
See Related Blog Posts:
After the Storm: The Threat of Mold After Residential Flooding
Flooded Roads, Heavy Rains, and Being Prepared Even in California’s Drought
(Image by Keith Tyler)