Homeowners face massive post-flood mold problem

As Mississippians return to their water-damaged homes following the historic Mississippi River flood, they are coming face to face with a new threat — mold.

Mold can cause serious, long-term health problems, and recovery specialists urge disaster survivors to protect themselves by treating or discarding mold- and mildew-infected items.

Mold and mildew start growing within 24 hours after a flood, and can lurk throughout a home, from the attic to the basement and crawl spaces. The best defense is to thoroughly clean, disinfect and dry the affected areas.

Porous materials — things that absorb water — can trap mold forever. Moldy paper, rags, wallboard and rotten wood should be discarded. Survivors also may need to throw out moldy carpeting or upholstered furniture.

“It can be hard to get rid of a favorite armchair, your child’s teddy bear or any other treasures that have developed mold,” said federal coordinating officer Terry L. Quarles. “To safeguard the well-being of your loved ones, though, a top-to-bottom home cleanup is your best defense.”

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