A structural damage inspection should include:
- Examination of posts of pole buildings for crushed or broken wood near the ground or at truss connections or knee braces. Make sure posts are straight and vertical. Look for indications that posts made of more than one board may have split along rows of nails.
- Check doors and windows to make sure they open as they did before flooding. If they do not, this may indicate the structure has shifted. In cases of severe shifting, water lines, gas lines and electrical circuits may have been damaged.
- Check for wetness. If wetness occurred because of flooding or leaking roofs, look for wet electrical circuits, wet insulation and other water damage to the structure’s interior. Once insulation in a wall or attic becomes wet, it must be replaced. Wall insulation that is sealed within the structure will not dry.
- Examine siding and metal roofing. Look at the siding and roof sheets for tears around fasteners, evidence of fasteners being pulled, and bends or buckles in the metal roof sheets. See whether the sheets are still aligned with each other.
- Check wood for indications of rotting or other damage that could weaken the building. Document the damage with pictures, and contact your insurance company.
Buildings showing signs of damage will need to be repaired. Truss members may need to be replaced or additional boards placed from joint to joint. Damaged joints may require additional or larger gussets.
Additional nails and screws may also be required. Be sure to leave adequate space between nails and screws to avoid weakening the wood.
Livestock Buildings and Electrical Equipment
After disconnecting electrical equipment from the power source and completely disassembling, thoroughly clean milking equipment, grain augers, ventilation fans and other items that were immersed in floodwaters to remove grit or other contaminants.
Do not run electric motors until they are clean, dry, free-running, and judged safe by a qualified person. This means that air conditioners, furnaces, appliances, feed augers, fans and other equipment may not be approved for use for several days.
Alternatives may be necessary to get a flood-damaged farmstead back into operation. This could involve moving dairy cows to a neighbor’s milking unit, utilizing natural ventilation instead of mechanical, and feeding by hand. Animals housed in mechanically ventilated buildings may need to be moved to prevent acute exposure to hazardous gases.
If a well is used for the water supply, test the water to determine if it is safe for human or livestock consumption. A well that has been contaminated by floodwaters usually can be cleaned and sanitized. If a rural water system is being used, check for breaks or leaks in the supply and distribution pipes. Flush all your water lines after a flood.
Fuel and Chemical Storage Areas
If these supplies are spilled or have water damage, special measures may be needed for proper and safe cleanup and disposal. Your county Extension office has information on the methods necessary for safe cleanup.
Clean, dry and lightly oil all metal tools to prevent rusting. Power tools will need individual cleaning and drying before they are used. Belts, nails, screws, etc., will need to be dried to prevent rusting.
Featured image by shutterstock.com/MBoe.