Flooded Out: A Beginner’s “How To” for Post-Flooding Clean-Up

I’ve been living in Cancun for six years now and I’ve always felt lucky that I didn’t have a hurricane make landfall while I’ve been here. There were some close shaves but I’ve always felt lucky.

About two weeks ago, however, a freak rainstorm hit the area. We’ve been having a lot more rain this year than in previous years so I didn’t think too much of it.

That is until I woke up.

There is a certain problem in Mexico where drainage waterways are clogged with trash. The reason mostly reside with people improperly throwing away their trash but the results, especially in torrential rainstorm areas like Cancun, are too astounding to believe. And the worst part of it? This was no ordinary rainstorm.

A sleepy eye becomes a rapidly awake one when you realize that leaves floating in your room is not normal. I like sleeping without a box spring because it reminds me of sleeping on futons in the traditional Japanese fashion. You could say I was glad then that I didn’t buy a normal futon (which is sort of like an over-stuffed comforter) then because I got up still dry. The water had entered my room, which is the farthest from the street.

After about an hour, the water had subsided.

So, to get down to the cleaning business.

  1. If you have things on the floor, pick them up and stick them outside when it has finally cleared up.
  2. Wash all clothes that have gotten wet.
  3. If your mattress or box spring had gotten soaked, it is extremely important that you dry them out in the sun.
  4. If you don’t get these things taken care of, mold and mildew set in, which can release spores and cause irritation in the pharyngeal-laryngeal areas.
  5. Kill mold and mildew. I found that the most effective way of application to be a trusty spray bottle. I was using a little tub and toothbrush but that is agonizingly tedious. You can use several different things: bleach, borax, ammonia, vinegar, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, tea tree oil and grapefruit seed extract. I used vinegar, baking soda and bleach.
  6. Do not use moldy shoes. Mold is a parasitic fungi so it will cause skin rashes.
Plastic toy that came floating into my house during one of the heaviest rainstorms in Cancun 2013.

Plastic toy that came floating into my house during one of the heaviest rainstorms in Cancun 2013. Sorry it’s blurry. 

I used bleach on everything because although it does emit fumes, I knew that the water came from the street and brought everything in with it. Including a used q-tip, a cigarette butt (I don’t smoke) and a toy (I have no kids).

I will admit that I was a little overzealous with the bleach usage. Sore throat and ear canals were probably behind my upping the recommended dosage of one part bleach to ten parts water to a one part bleach to something like three or four parts water. Yes, I know, not smart but it cleared it up straight away.

I also could not get my mattress out into the patio because I didn’t want to dirty it more than it already had been so I stood it up on one side (do you know how hard it is to heave a water-logged mattress up on one end?) and stuck it in front of the window (nearly floor-to-ceiling). Also, throwing baking soda on things to kill the mold works. You can use it in your spray bottle (1/4 of a tablespoon to a bottle) or you can use it directly.

I also went buck wild with the baking soda so don’t ask.

I kind of see this as a good thing, seeing as that I need to clean out my house and throw away stuff I haven’t needed, used or even remembered.

Cancun's heavy downpour in 2013. The water in my front patio: Normally, the water on previous occasions only gets a little past the gate.

Cancun’s heavy downpour in 2013. The water in my front patio: Normally, the water on previous occasions only gets a little past the gate.

Leaves floating into my house in the most rainfall Cancun has had in 2013.

Leaves floating into my house in the most rainfall Cancun has had in 2013.

Leaves floating in my bathroom. A lot of water in the heaviest rain Cancun has had all 2013.

Leaves floating in my bathroom. A lot of water in the heaviest rain Cancun has had all 2013.

My bedroom suffering through the heaviest rainfall Cancun has seen all 2013. I had to throw that notepad out.

My bedroom suffering through the heaviest rainfall Cancun has seen all 2013. I had to throw that notepad out.

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4 thoughts on “Flooded Out: A Beginner’s “How To” for Post-Flooding Clean-Up

  1. “If you don’t get these things taken care of, mold and mildew set in, which can release spores and cause irritation in the pharyngeal-laryngeal areas.”

    Is this newly acquired knowledge?

  2. “so I stood it up on one side (do you know how hard it is to heave a water-logged mattress up on one end?) ”

    You’re a triathlete. Really?

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