Full Episodes of Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford

Recovering from a Hurricane or Other Natural Disaster

By: Danny Lipford

A-frame house with extensive hurricane damage.

Watch this video to see the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, hear the first-hand stories of those who lived through the storm, and the find out how to make your home more resistant to wind damage.

Other topics included:

  • Dealing with mold and mildew caused by flooding.
  • When to remove or keep flooded construction materials.
  • Reinforcing the framing of a home with hurricane straps.
  • Proper installation of roof shingles for wind resistance.
  • Impact-resistant windows that can help protect your home.

Further Information

Print   Video Transcript

Danny Lipford: Whether you’re dealing the aftermath of a hurricane like this or a smaller catastrophe at your own home, this week we’ll show you how to put all of the pieces back together, the right way.

Announcer: Today’s Homeowner with Danny Lipford, the voice of home improvement with projects, tips and ideas to help you improve your home.

Danny Lipford: When Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, nobody could imagine the amount of devastation that would be caused by the most expensive storm to ever hit the United States.

Now this week we’re going to look at a lot of the rebuilding efforts and kind of explore why some houses did real well and others not so well. Also there’s millions of dollars spent every year on more minor catastrophes around the home such as dishwashers overflowing or ruptured washing machine hoses and other types of things that cause water or wind damage, much like they’re dealing with here on the Gulf Coast.

We’ll look at the right way to put everything back together and different building products and building techniques to build a stronger home, stay with us.

This week we’re in an area called Pass Christian, Mississippi, which experienced a good bit of damage from Hurricane Katrina, not only from wind damage but a large storm surge that came into this neighborhood and actually was over 8 feet tall where I’m standing.

Now outside it’s already been pressure washed and looks a lot better, inside looks pretty bad. Can you imagine 8 foot of water in a house like this, you can see the water line right in here and all of the dry wall has been wet, all of the insulation inside the walls have been wet, and definitely all of that will have to be torn out.

Can the house be saved? Without a doubt, the foundation’s in good shape and this house really isn’t as old as some of the other houses in this area and once everything is removed it can be rebuilt, but just look at some of the things they’re having to deal with here.

The mud that’s settled down in the bottom of where the water came in and on the floor itself and you can see the problems with the countertop and all of this will have to be completely removed.

Now it’s been several weeks since the hurricane hit and in the weeks that followed that, of course all of the walls were wet and creating a lot of mold and mildew. You can see in areas like this how the mold and mildew is really starting to grow, that will be the major concern.

Now earlier this morning we talked with another homeowner that experienced the same kind of damage but is a little further along on the repairs. Mary Catherine Ward’s home was also flooded but with the help of her son and a local contractor she’s already preparing to rebuild.

Richard Ward: When we first came back, it was about 4 days after the storm and my first thought was I’m glad she had flood insurance because clearly the water line was a good 7 to 8 feet up the house.

Mary Catherine Ward: When I came back it looked terrible and I was upset about it but I called the builder and we got working Monday morning.

Richard Ward: We decided the sheetrock and the carpeting needed to leave because they were holding water and we had spoken to some people and they indicated that it would probably never dry out and there would be a mold problem and in fact, that it would even effect the studs, the woodwork of the house and everything else.

So we decided to take, again, take out the carpeting and the sheetrock and to start from there.

Mary Catherine Ward: There’s enough here that everyone who’s away, all they do is call is say get me back, get me back. I’ll rent a room from you when you restore your house. So we’re going to have a big party when we all get back.

Danny Lipford: The Wards have made a good start, but to get a few more details on how to deal with the effects of water damage, I had a chat with mold remediation expert and local resident, Rimmer Covington, at a home where a Katrina’s storm surge reached over twenty feet.

Rimmer Covington: Be careful Danny.

Danny Lipford: Yeah, this one’s a mess, now this is exactly the way it was the morning after the storm?

Rimmer Covington: That’s right, exactly the way it was. Mother Nature cleaned it out.

Danny Lipford: So no furniture or anything?

Rimmer Covington: No furniture. Some folks had bought the home and a month later Hurricane Katrina came and just destroyed it.

Danny Lipford: Oh, that’s some bad luck, I tell you, how do you even approach something like this in order to get it back to a safe environment and I guess whatever guidelines you use for this would be similar if you had a burst of washing machine hose that caused a lot of flooding?

Rimmer Covington: Right, you have to stop the water, dry the moisture up so that there is no mold growth and then you can proceed with your repairs.

Danny Lipford: Ok, and I know something like this where you have, you know, carpet, of course this is completely gone but I guess in some situations you can pull the carpet out of there and if you dry it quick enough you may even be able to save it.

Rimmer Covington: Possibly, but in this case, this is salt water flooding, and the saltwater brings with it salt crystals which absorb moisture, so you have to remove the construction materials that soaked up the saltwater crystals and the saltwater.

Danny Lipford: Ok, I got you, ok now obviously the water got up this high, I mean that’s like 10, 11 feet off the floor and we’re already 10 feet up off the ground with this style house, so you had that much water I guess all of the drywall in this house has to come out.

Rimmer Covington: That, that is true all the drywall will have to come out of this house, it’ll be taken down to bear studs so that they’re clean like this. Once the fertility is completely dry then wherever you have residual mold growing it will be completely removed or treated in some fashion with a pressure washer.

In this open-air circumstance, that would work well. And then test it of course so that you can establish that there isn’t any mold.

Danny Lipford: And keeping it real dry after the windows are replaced in here, I guess a dehumidifier would be a great idea to just pull as much moisture out of it as you can.

Rimmer Covington: Yes, yes.

Danny Lipford: We’re seeing a lot of real major work, but let’s take something a little simpler now, with our Simple Solution.

Announcer: It’s time for this week’s simple solution from home repair expert, Joe Truini.

Danny Lipford: There’s no way around it if you’re remodeling inside your home you’re going to create some dust, the secret is to keep that dust in the room you’re working in and not allow it to sneak into the adjacent areas.

Joe Truini: Well the most effective way to keep the dust in the room you’re working and not blowing all through the house is to cover all door ways with sheets of plastic.

This is 6 mil plastic, which is thick enough not to tear easily, plus you can reuse it. But instead of taping it up I’m going to use a staple gun because tape will eventually loosen up when dust gets behind it and it’ll fall down.

But the trick here is to take a staple gun and tape a small Popsicle stick, just a little ice cream stick right on the bottom side, what that’s going to do is prevent the staple from going all the way in so it’ll be really easy to remove later and then you can reuse the plastic. Ok there, hold it up a little bit.

Danny Lipford: That should do it.

Joe Truini: Right there. If you look right here, you can see that the staple’s sticking out about an 1/8th of an inch so it makes it really easy to remove it later and then you can reuse this plastic.

Danny Lipford: Yeah this works great and just a little bit of plastic around an opening like this will save you a lot of clean up time in the end.

In a catastrophic event like a hurricane, the storm surge and the flooding that follows that can cause a tremendous amount of damage. We’re in an area now that received some of the highest recorded winds during Hurricane Katrina and we talked to a homeowner that actually rode out the storm in this house.

Mark Ashley is a retired Navy commander, his brush with Katrina was much closer than he had intended and one he won’t soon forget. Mark it’s truly hard to believe that anyone could sit through the storm in a house like this, tell us the story.

Mark Ashley: Well it certainly wasn’t by choice. I was late taking a boat across to Mobile Bay, family had already evacuated by the time I got back and got just a couple hours of sleep the storm was already starting and I couldn’t leave.

Initially I felt I was fortunate to be there because I was able to put some buckets under the leaky roof and move some stuff around. But as the storm got worse and worse and finally when it got up to my waist I decided I’m not so fortunate anymore.

Danny Lipford: Right, and sounds I assume that the building was creaking and making all kinds of sounds.

Mark Ashley: It was, other folks talk about just the horrendous loud noise. I frankly didn’t have that sensation, I think I was busy worrying about other things.

Danny Lipford: Sure. I could see where you would.

Mark Ashley: I heard a lot of strange noises but it wasn’t loud.

Danny Lipford: Now when everything started getting up waste deep for you here, I guess the next place, heading up the stairs was not much really left of your stairs now.

Mark Ashley: Well, it was, this was a central stairwell, it went up, up to the second floor, I’d always heard that in the central piece of the house, under a door frame was the safest place to stay.

Danny Lipford: Right.

Mark Ashley: So, that’s where I went and watched the water come up a little bit more, at some point, when the side of the stairwell started to buckle, and that was when I was hearing some noise.

Danny Lipford: Yeah.

Mark Ashley: From that buckling, I said this is going to go fairly quickly and I don’t know where it’s going to go. So I went on up into the second floor and about that time just looked around and saw this whole half of the house just explode and went away, and now I’m just standing in a hallway looking out at the storm.

Danny Lipford: Boy, and, you can see the water now but I guess before your view of the water was limited because what used to be several houses.

Mark Ashley: There were about 8 houses between me and the beach, now when I did look out I could only see as far as that next slab, I couldn’t see past that because of the rain.

But I did see that house and it was collapsed, that and my house collapsing told me that I wasn’t where I needed to be. The only place I could go was back up into this, into my daughter, Amy’s room and ended up staying the rest of the time there, just praying and hoping that it wasn’t going to get that part too.

Danny Lipford: Boy it’s amazing I tell you I know you wouldn’t do it again and in any case at all with a storm coming.

Mark Ashley: Oh heck no.

Danny Lipford: Well now I know the house is about ten years old and the garage and breeze way is much newer than that and it looks like it held together pretty good, the original house being ten years old I noticed they used some of the hurricane straps and some of the clips and that’s one of the things that they started requiring you to use on a lot of the homes that we’re built at that time to try to hold everything together.

But now a days there’s other ways that you can make a house even stronger. Randy Shackleford is a research engineer for a company that manufactures structural connectors for the building industry. He explains how the business of reinforcing homes is evolving.

Randy Shackelford: The concept is that the wind is pulling on the top of the roof, you’ve got roof uplift, and everyone’s heard of that, so it’s been for a long time where people connect the roof to the top plate but what you really need to do is to connect that all the way down.

So it all starts at the top where you fasten the roof sheeting to the roof framing then the roof framing is connected to the top plate and then everywhere there’s a joint on there is a connection together.

So we’ve got the top plate connected to the stud and we come down the stud, the stud is connected to the bottom plate and then we’ve got a nut and an extra large washer down here connecting the bottom plate to the foundation.

So what we have is a continuous load path, or a chain, and you want all the links in that chain connected together from the roof down to the bottom. And the great thing about that is you can buy all the material to do that for about $200 for a modest size house.

Unfortunately one of the best ways to learn is when a disaster strikes engineers go out and they look at the damage and we see what happened, they try to figure out what happened.

And then they take that knowledge back and incorporate it into building codes. This happened after earthquakes in California after Hurricane Andrew in Florida and I’m sure the same thing is going to happen here in the Gulf Coast.

We’ll take what we saw and incorporate into improvements in both wind and flood resistance.

Danny Lipford: After our Best New Product Segment we’ll return to the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Announcer: Let’s join Danny at the home center to check out this week’s Best New Product, brought to you by The Home Depot.

Danny Lipford: One of the biggest problems we’re seeing in a lot of the homes we’re looking at this week is excessive mold growth. Now mold is usually a result of traditional wall board getting wet and then the paper that surrounds the wall board providing the food that mold needs in order for it to continue to grow.

Now what if you had a wallboard that was completely paperless? Well it’s finally available from Georgia Pacific and it’s called Dense Armor Plus. Now it’s made pretty much like a traditional piece of Gypsum wall board except that it has extra glass fibers to fortify and strengthen the sheet itself and the same glass fibers over the outside surface to provide that inorganic coding that will not promote any mold growth.

Now it installs pretty much like any other wall board, it finishes like wall board and once it’s painted, no one would ever know that you put something different than traditional wall board.

So you might think about this when you’re remodeling or building a home and any moisture subject areas inside your home such as a bathroom or a kitchen.

This week we’re along the Gulf Coast looking at some of the damage that was caused by Hurricane Katrina. Now we’ve seen a tremendous amount of damage where houses were washed completely off of their foundations, others destroyed by the high winds.

But one thing we’ve seen in almost every house we’ve looked at is some type of roof damage, particularly blown shingles like we have on this structure. Now, so many times you have minor work like this that could be minimized if the shingles were installed properly.

Almost every manufacturer of asphalt shingles requires a minimum of four fasteners per shingle, these nails are generally driven below the self-sealing strip and above the overlap point with one near each tab notch and one near each edge.

In areas that are subject to high winds, two extra nails are recommended for a total of 6 nails in each shingle, or two nails in each tab. It’s also important that the nails be driven down flush with the shingle surface but not so deep that the shingle is damaged.

Shingles are just one product used to seal the envelope of your home, another that you should consider is housewrap.

John O’Driscoll: When I talk to consumers what I tell them all the time is you have to look at the key properties of a house wrap, it’s ability to stop air, stop water, but most importantly is, and the most critical factor, is it’s ability to allow moisture vapor to pass through the product.

Now many people say how does that happen? The way that Tyvek is made is you have layer upon layer upon layer of these fibers, they’re then bonded together with heat and pressure. If we look at what we’re trying to control, which is water, air, and moisture vapor, if we assimilate those to their molecule size, to like a quarter, a nickel, and a dime.

The quarter’s going to be water, the nickel’s going to be air, and the dime’s going to be moisture vapor. We manufacture Tyvek in such a way that the quarters and nickels cannot pass through the material yet dimes can pass through freely, that is why if a wall were to get wet, it has the capacity to dry through the moisture vapor passing through the product.

Danny Lipford: This is another important consideration in protecting the envelope of your home, especially in a severe storm situation. Now many window manufacturers now offer windows with impact resistant glass.

At first glance, these windows look like any other but what sets them apart is how they perform. In this model called the Storm Breaker Plus, the key difference is the pane of laminated glass formed by sandwiching a piece of heavy plastic between two pieces of double strength glass.

Then the pane is combined with another piece of double strength tempered glass to form one insulated unit that rests in a heavy duty vinyl sash that’s reinforced with steel. I got the chance to see their strength first hand but the real testing takes place in the lab, traveling at 50 feet per second this 9 foot long 2×4 shatters the glass but doesn’t break through it.

Repeated shots have similar results. More testing highlights the real value of these windows because even in this damaged state they continued to protect the interior of a home and its contents from the effects of wind and water.

Next, our Around the Yard.

Announcer: Let’s head outside for Around the Yard with lawn and garden expert Tricia Craven-Worley brought to you by Homelite, simply reliable.

Danny Lipford: Tricia when I think of African violets I always think of them as being a very delicate plant.

Tricia Craven-Worley: Oh they are delicate and I just love them, how velvety they look.

Danny Lipford: Oh yeah they’re real pretty.

Tricia Craven: You know in the past we’ve talked about not getting water on the plants because the leaves have all of these little, nice, furry things, but today I’m talking about how to make more of these beautiful plants.

Danny Lipford: Oh is that right you can make them duplicate themselves.

Tricia Craven-Worley: Yes, you can propagate them, there are quite a few plants that you can do that with and this is one of them. What I’m going to start with is use a sterile, a sterilized knife.

Danny Lipford: Ok.

Tricia Craven-Worley: It’s very important that you’re not transferring any kind of germs of any sort from one plant to another.

Danny Lipford: Yeah, makes sense.

Tricia Craven-Worley: So always make sure you wash the knife first and then I’m going to find a healthy leaf and I’m going to cut way down there. Ok. And I’ve just cut, as you can see, part of the stem.

Danny Lipford: I see.

Tricia Craven-Worley: Now, there are some wonderful products out, and this is simply a rooting hormone.

Danny Lipford: Oh I see.

Tricia Craven-Worley: And that’s the next step, is that you want to dip that hormone, or dip the leaf into that hormone and make sure that it really cakes around there.

Danny Lipford: I see.

Tricia Craven-Worley: Alright. And then what I do, I think there are lots of other ways to do it, but what I like to do is I just stick it through paper and again I’m keeping the top part dry, and I’m just going to put it in water.

Now what’s going to happen is over time that stem will begin to show little roots and as soon as they look strong enough I’m going to transplant it to some nice soil.

Danny Lipford: Sounds easy.

I’ve lived on the Gulf Coast my whole life and have been through a few hurricanes, even that didn’t prepare me for the amount of damage that we found here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

I also expected to talk to a number of homeowners that were very depressed and overwhelmed by this situation, what I found were some of the most optimistic people I’d ever met.

Folks like homeowner Mark Ashley who weathered the storm and what remained of his home. Mary Catherine Ward and her son Richard who were determined to rebuild a home that’s full of family history. And Rimmer Covington who took time away from his own gutted home to share with us his expertise on fighting mold.

We even discovered a civic group meeting on the sidewalk because there was nowhere else to meet. Thanks to the generosity of our sponsors we were able to provide them with some of the tools necessary to help with the rebuilding of their community. They in turn shared with us their bright outlook and incredible enthusiasm.

Here in Pass Christian, only a few waterfront structures, like this concrete home survived the storm, but the spirit of the people is thriving.

There are a lot of bright spots and with the amount of assistance that’s pouring in from all over this great country, it won’t be long, this community will be back on its feet again. Thanks for being with us, I’m Danny Lipford.

Next week, we’re changing traffic patterns in this kitchen and creating a more open space.

Announcer: If you’d like to purchase a video tape or DVD copy of this week’s show, visit our website at dannylipford.com, or call us at 1-800-946-4420.



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