The back-to-back hurricanes over the last two months have produced some horrifying still images and video footage. This time-lapse video of a residential garage in Houston, TX slowly filling up with water during Hurricane Harvey in August chilled the bones of millions of homeowners. The 19-minute video begins with family members, in anticipation of flooding, taking steps to protect the contents of their garage by elevating them. Using collapsible tables, they moved items presumably stored on the floor or below table-height to the table tops. They are also seen stashing some items inside the family vehicle in an effort to protect them.
It’s not long afterward that floodwaters begin to breach the closed door of the garage. Water surges in, and then for a short time it appears as though the water has crested and all of the items on the tables are spared from water damage. As it turned out, this was only the calm before the real storm. Over the next several hours, depicted in just a few minutes of time-lapse video, the water steadily rises. Eventually, it covers the tops of the tables that the homeowners had so carefully placed their possessions on, and everything on them either sinks or floats. By the time the flood waters crest inside the garage, the water’s surface reaches the height of the vehicle’s tail lights before beginning to recede. Undoubtedly at least a little bit of that water entered the vehicle, so that even the things stored inside didn’t escape the water.
These homeowners did the right thing by removing stored items from the floor. However they clearly underestimated just how big the upcoming flood was going to be. Still, it’s likely that many of the items inside the garage, although waterlogged, probably survived the flood, and a good, thorough drying-out is all they needed afterward to salvage them.
What probably suffered most was the actual structure of the garage: flooring, framing, walls, possibly even the foundation, depending on what shape it was in before the flood and how long it was exposed to flooding conditions. Some of the worst damage that can occur is often the kind you can’t see until it’s too late: mold. While, in time, the interior and exterior walls may look as though they have recovered, mold can grow in the spaces in between. If not found and treated early, mold will continue to grow and spread.
You can find some great advice on inspecting your walls for mold at Mold Advisor. If you do discover mold in your own garage or home, you must be very careful in how you treat it. If there is only a little bit, you may be able to treat it on your own. If it has spread to more than about a square foot, it’s best to call in a mold remediation specialist. They will be able to ensure that it hasn’t spread to other locations and also know best how to remove it without releasing potentially harmful mold spores into the air (which can spread mold to other parts of the home AND may cause health problems for people and pets).
Other signs of water damage tend to be fairly obvious, although they may take weeks, months or longer to become apparent. Signs include (but are not limited to) water stains, cracks (in walls, floors, etc), buckling of walls or floors, obvious wet spots that don’t dry out with sufficient time (drywall, in spite of its name, can take a long time to thoroughly dry out), warping or crumbling drywall, soft or sunken spots in the floor that weren’t present before flooding, or splitting in wood.
Thankfully, here in BC we are at much lower risk for catastrophic flooding than the hurricane-prone south, southeast and eastern seaboard parts of the US. Tidal waves are a remote possibility here. However, the more likely flooding scenarios to occur in the Lower Mainland would result from extensive rainfall, something that is definitely within the realm of possibility here. Almost all of Richmond and Delta as well as parts of Vancouver, Surrey, Langley, New Westminster, Port Coquitlam, Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge, Mission and Abbotsford lie within the floodplain. While there have only been a couple of major floods in the last 125 years, there is a 30 percent chance that the Lower Mainland will experience a major flood sometime in the next 50 years.
There have been a number of “minor” floods in recent decades, usually resulting from storms with heavy rainfall. The Lower Mainland is well-equipped for some flooding in many areas, but even the extensive dike system found throughout the region can only hold back so much water.
We aren’t flood experts here at Tailored Living, but we are acutely aware of the strong possibility of water damage occurring within the Lower Mainland. It is one of homeowners’ biggest concerns when building or remodeling their garage. Fortunately, Tailored Living carries a number of products that are ideal for withstanding potential flooding conditions. Our garage flooring is one great example. All of our PremierOne® floor coatings are industrial grade hybrid polymer sealants and created to withstand a variety of challenging conditions, including water damage and extremes in temperatures. Our heavy-duty, durable PremierTrax garage floor tiles are also impervious to water damage and can be easily removed, should you have a flood where repairs are necessary, and then put back into place.
We live here too, as do our carpenters and other staff, so it’s important to us that we carry and install products that we confidently use in our own homes, and which we know will stand up to the kinds of weather conditions unique to Greater Vancouver. We would be honored to come in and show you how we can help you make your home or garage more efficient and organized.