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Heavy Rains and Flooding in Portland, Oregon: What Are the Risks To Your Home and Health?

Portland, Oregon is a beautiful city with a vibrant, quirky culture and a progressive, laid-back temperament; however, it’s not without its environmental dangers, and that includes heavy rains and flooding. 

Located near the confluence of the Columbia and Willamette rivers, flooding is a common occurrence after heavy rainstorms, when both rivers start to bulge from their banks and loosen the soil nearby. It doesn’t help that the city is located in a valley, which causes more water to pool in the area as it runs down from the hills above. The last element of this dangerous trifecta is the fact that urbanization has covered the more porous soil with asphalt and concrete, which is more resistant to water penetration and leads to flooding. 

What does this all mean for you as a Portland homeowner? In this article, we’ll discuss the dangers of flooding to your property and health, as well as explain how a reputable Portland water damage restoration company can protect your family from these risks.

Standing water leads to rot – and that leads to big issues for your property

Put plainly, a house is safest when it is clean and dry. The materials used in house construction are simply not made to be immersed in water for long periods: even a thin layer of water from moderately heavy rainfall can seriously endanger your property and family. 

Consider the amount of wood that is used in the construction of most homes: properties all across the United States are framed with timber and often have a subfloor of plywood or Oriented Stranded Board, which makes them highly vulnerable to water incursion. Just like a log immersed in a pond will start to swell and soften, the same thing will happen to your subfloors and house framing if it is kept damp for even short periods. 

This is particularly dangerous when you consider the fact that your home’s timbers have a lot of weight hanging on them, and water damage usually occurs on the lowest levels of a house, near the foundation. As the wood here weakens, it can no longer withstand the heavy pressures of the house above it, and it may start to crack or warp, which can seriously imperil your home’s structural integrity.


It’s not just structural integrity that might be imperiled by flooding – your health may also be at stake

We’ve just discussed some structural issues with water damage to wood and other porous materials, but there are more pressing risks for your health that are caused by water damage. Firstly, floodwater isn’t just water: it’s a toxic stew of many contaminants, from sewage to dangerous chemicals.

Flooding occurs when the drainage system of a city can no longer divert rainwater, which allows the sewers to back up into the streets; this means that your home is now bathed in whatever has been flushed down toilets and poured down drains. Walking through flooded areas or touching anything soaked in this water can cause numerous serious diseases, including e.coli and salmonella infections. You could suffer from diarrhea, skin infections, and even eye infections should you accidentally get any of this contaminated water near your mucus membranes, and these can take some intense antibiotics to treat. This is especially dangerous for those with compromised immune systems, including children, chronically ill individuals, and the elderly, which makes it all the more essential that you treat a flooded area quickly to reduce the risk.

But the danger doesn’t end when you manage to pump out the flood: waterlogged timbers and other surfaces can become the perfect petri dish for mold, which can cause severe respiratory distress in those with asthma or allergies. There are dozens of different mold varieties that love the damp conditions left by floodwater, including the infamous black mold called Aspergillus. While many molds can pose a risk to human health, aspergillus can cause aspergillosis, a group of respiratory diseases that can require medical intervention. Though most common in those with asthma and the immunocompromised, anyone who inhales enough black mold spores can develop a lung infection, which can lead to lifelong respiratory issues if not treated.

One last component of water damage can be just as devastating, and that’s the loss of precious items that can never be replaced. Many people use their basements as storage for things like photo albums, family heirlooms, and mementos, which means they are at risk of being destroyed by any water damage from rains and flooding. While some things can be carefully restored or dried out, such as clothing or teddy bears, some will likely need to be thrown out, such as children’s artwork or paintings, which is truly heart-wrenching.

To prevent serious damage to your home and health, you need to call a water damage remediation expert as soon as possible

These are not issues to be taken lightly, and you must get in touch with a responsible remediation company the instant that you notice even a small amount of water in your home. Even if you don’t see any obvious damage, the water may have infiltrated the wood structures of your home, which can become a ticking time bomb for structural damage or mold infestations if you don’t get professional help.

The process of water damage remediation involves removing any remaining water using pumps or vacuums, then drying and dehumidifying the area with large industrial fans and dehumidifiers. Once everything is dry, the remediators will disinfect and sanitize all treatable surfaces to inhibit mold growth and kill bacteria that may still be lurking inside the nooks and crannies of the materials. 

Now that everything is clean, your water damage experts will start to assess the structural integrity of the area, which can include drywall, flooring, and electrical systems. Anything that is damaged beyond repair will be removed and replaced, while those that can be fixed will be carefully repaired. 

Portland is a wonderful place, but it’s also prone to serious flooding issues, which is why you must understand the risks posed by this – as well as how to get help. Should you notice even a centimeter of water in your basement or crawlspace, contact a water damage remediation expert immediately to prevent serious damage to your home and health.