Flood damage to family heirlooms and collectibles requires special immediate attention.
1. Mold is the first priority. If possible, move anything with mold outdoors or to the garage. Dry everything as quickly as you can.
2. Wipe wood dry as soon as possible. Wipe wood and other hard surfaces with a rag soaked in a mixture of Borax and hot water.
3. Remove drawers from wood furniture. Let them dry to reduce sticking.
4. Place plastic under furniture legs to prevent colors bleeding from furniture to floor.
5. If the wood develops white spots or a film, rub the surface with a clean cloth soaked in a solution of half ammonia, half water.
6. Carpeting will probably have to be discarded. Oriental rugs require a specialist. Throw rugs can be washed.
7. Look for broken ceramic and glass items so you can claim damage for insurance. Put loose pieces in a plastic bag. Mark it with the place you found it. Watch for mold growth in the bag.
8. If your wooden furniture frame is valuable, save it and discard your mattresses and upholstery.
Don’t forget to take pictures of any possible damage to help with insurance claims and call your insurance agent. Save the things that are undamaged first, not the items that are soaked. Be sure to wear boots and rubber gloves, wash hands frequently, and cover open cuts so contaminated water doesn’t cause infections.
There is more information about clean-up, insurance claims, and mold problems, in our report “Dealing with Disaster: How To Protect Your Collection from Theft, Fire and Natural Disasters and How To Handle a Disaster If it Strikes.”