With the high water table, many area residents are dealing with the problem of water in their basement.
Mold can begin growing under wet conditions within 48 hours, so cleanup is of high importance.
"If you can see it (mold) or smell it, then you have it," said Lori Scharmer, Extension agent for NDSU Extension Service. "Mold can come in all colors. There are mold spores in the air all of the time, and whenever the temperature and the moisture is right, mold will grow."
Katina Tengesdal/MDN - - Dean Houchen, NDSU Extension agent in training, demonstrates how to use a moisture meter.
Dr. Casmiar Nwaigwe, infectious disease specialist at Trinity Health, said mold in the home can cause health problems, especially for those who have suppressed immune systems or underlying lung problems.
"It's (mold in the home) usually not a huge problem unless people are immuno-suppressed, such as those who have had an organ transplant, those undergoing chemo or those with AIDS," Nwaigwe said. "They can develop infections that are very difficult to treat."
"Most people, if they are exposed to mold for several hours, will have some reactions like a cough, skin rash, or irritation of the eyes or nose," he added. "If you have these symptoms while in the home, and the symptoms get better after being exposed to fresh air, it's likely there is mold in the home."
Other flood recovery information
In addition to information on basement clean up, the NDSU Extension has a variety of information on other flood-related recovery issues such as a flood recovery checklist, family financial tool kit, landscape flooding, farmstead flooding, water safety, emotional issues and food safety issues.
"During the evacuation we looked at information on how to get people and property out, now we're looking more at flood recovery related issues. We will make information available all summer long, because people will be dealing with recovery at different times," Extension agent Lori Scharmer said.
For more information people can visit the Ward County Extension facebook page at (https://www.facebook.com/WardCountyExtension) or the NDSU Extension Flood Web page at (http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/flood). People can also pick up printed materials at NDSU Extension Service's Minot office or speak with Extension agents.
Long-term exposure is particularly troublesome because of effects on the lungs and eyes, Nwaigwe said.
"You might start behaving as if you have asthma, or if you already have it, the asthma becomes more difficult to control," he said. "If you keep inhaling the mold spores, you might develop a reaction in the lungs."
The most important step in preventing mold-related illness is to dry out moist areas as soon as possible.
"To prevent mold from growing, people should get rid of the water and get things dried out as soon as possible," Scharmer said. "While groundwater that has seeped in is not generally dirty, people still need to get things dried out and get some air circulating."
"Any drywall that has gotten wet needs to be removed," she said. "Most carpets, especially if they have foam backing or pad, should be discarded. If you have water up a wall, the wall needs to be opened up so the wall can dry out. Wood needs to be allowed to dry as quickly as possible, because it is difficult to clean mold off of wood."
During the process of drying out the area and discarding porous materials, non porous materials that have been exposed to mold can be cleaned.
"Anything that's not porous can usually be cleaned, like cement blocks or tile," she said. "Use a good household cleaner and scrub the mold off first, then rinse the area with a bleach solution and allow it to dry."
During mold clean up, people should take precautions to avoid exposure. Both Scharmer and Nwaigwe recommended wearing protective masks and gloves during clean up.
"If you are attempting clean up yourself, you should wear a mask to prevent inhaling mold spores. People should wear an N95 mask, not just a handkerchief or dust mask, for the best protection," Nwaigwe said.
People should still use caution after the drying out and cleaning process has been completed, ensuring they aren't rebuilding too soon.
"You need to make sure things are totally dried out before rebuilding, before any drywall or carpet is put back in. The water table will remain high throughout the summer, so do not redo the basement too quickly. In the meantime, put things in the basement in waterproof containers and keep things up off the floor, and allow for free air movement," Scharmer said.
Scharmer suggested testing walls using moisture meters after the drying out process is complete, to ensure everything is dry enough to rebuild. The meters can be borrowed from the NDSU Extension Service office in Minot.
In addition, Scharmer encouraged people to make use of dehumidifiers in their basements to keep moisture levels down.