If your apartment or home has suffered flood damage, you may have questions about whether it is safe for you or your loved ones to return home. There are steps you can take to help ensure the environmental health and safety of your home.
Floods can cause structural damage to homes. Signs include buckling along ceilings and walls and water seeping underneath sinks, toilets, or floor tiles. If you suspect structural damage in your home, you can call a building inspector to come and look at your property. (If you rent, you should call your landlord first, but renters can also call building inspectors directly.)
In Rhode Island, cities and towns employ building inspectors. The Department of Health does not have jurisdiction and cannot assess damages on safety issues. Call your city or town hall for contact information for local building inspectors.
Excess moisture from flooding can cause mold to grow, which can affect the air quality inside your home. You can pay a private company to test your air quality, but this can be very costly. Home improvement stores sell inexpensive mold test kits.
However, testing is unnecessary if you can see or smell mold. This means that it is present and must be cleaned up. Mold growth often looks like spots. It can be many colors (white, orange, green, or black), and it usually smells musty. (more)
You may be able to get help from the federal government after a natural disaster such as a flood by registering for disaster assistance online.