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Document Recovery After a Flood

When a disaster hits a home, people don’t want to save a couch or dishwasher; they first run toward family photos, favorite books, and vital records like birth certificates and passports. Even though some of the soggy, water-soaked items may be ruined, there is still a chance to save some of them.

Tips to Salvage Flood Damaged Documents

documents damaged by flood water

Montana.gov shows that earthquakes, floods, and winter storms may hit the state more frequently every year. So what does that mean for your home? It helps if you’re prepared and have your vital documents locked up in a fireproof, waterproof area. However, if you weren’t able to prepare in time, and didn’t have your original documents locked up in a safe deposit box or fireproof safe, follow these tips to replace your important paperwork.

  1. Carefully lift photos from dirty water. Peel photos apart that are stuck together. If any photos are in water-damaged albums, remove them one at a time. Be careful not to touch the surface of the photos or you might damage them further by rubbing the rough sediment onto the image.
  2. Gently rinse the photo in a bucket or sink. Make sure the water is clear and cold. Dip the photo in, saturating both sides, trying not to rub it. Change the water frequently.
  3. Lay the photos face up on white paper towels. Don’t use newspapers or printed paper towels, as the color may transfer to your photos. Change the paper every two hours until your photos are dry. Dry photos indoors. If you try to dry them outside,the sun may curl your photos or damage the color.

Don’t Have Time to Save Water Damaged Photos?

If you don’t have the time or space to dry your photos right after a disaster hits, do steps 1 and 2 from above, then carefully place the wet photos between sheets of wax paper in sealable plastic bags. Freeze the photos (if possible) to lessen damage. When you are ready, you can defrost your photos, separate them, and air dry them.

How to Save a Book From Water Damage and Paperwork, Too!

Cleaning up after a flood can be daunting, and it may be overwhelming when you see your vital documents wet and damaged. But, never fear, because annual tax returns, property records, medical information, and marriage licenses are also capable of being saved even after water damage, as long as mold hasn’t started to grow.

Important papers and books can be cleaned similarly to photos, by placing them face up on paper towels to absorb the excess moisture. The key is to blot when necessary and never rub, for risk of tearing.

Follow these steps to clean and save vital documents and books:

  1. Carefully remove papers and books from the dirty water.
  2. Gently rinse the papers or book in a bucket or sink. Make sure the water is clear and cold. Dip the paper in, saturating both sides, trying not to rub it. Change the water frequently. If the paper is too fragile to dip in water, lay it down flat on a paper towel and gently spray it with water.
  3. Place papers on clean paper towels inside to dry. Turn on an oscillating fan, if possible, to get air circulating and help speed up the drying process.
  4. For books, place paper towels between every 20 to 50 pages to absorb the water in the book, and lay the book flat to help it dry. Change the paper towels every two to five hours.

Don’t Have Time to Save Water Damaged Papers or Books?

Just like with the photos, place your papers and books individually in sealable plastic bags. Place the bags in the freezer until you have time to deal with them.

After water damage or flooding happens in your home, the humidity will rise. So even though some of your books, papers, and photos may not be laying underneath inches of water, they are still can be affected by mold growth that forms from the increased humidity. It’s important to remove your flood damaged documents like photos, books, and papers from the scene as soon as possible to start the recovery process to avoid mold growth on these items, which would make them unsalvageable.

Need Help With Water Damage Recovery?

Call Alpha Omega Disaster Restoration for a inspection and assessment of your water damage.  Alpha Omega is a fully certified restoration company serving Billings, MT and the surrounding areas. When repairing your home after a flood, you want to have the restoration company do all the work. This ensures that it’s done correctly without the possibility of further problems creeping up in the future. Alpha Omega Disaster Restoration is a full general contractor with those appropriate certifications.

Our emergency disaster response crew is on call 24/7. We’ll assess the situation, document the damage, and work with your insurance adjuster to provide you the fastest and best water restoration possible. With our help you can focus on your family and relationships, while you let us worry about restoring your physical property to its pre-disaster state. When we are done, all traces of the destruction will be gone, and you will be left with a safe and comfortable home.

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"Luckily I have never needed to use a restoration company, but as someone who has worked closely with Alpha Omega, they have treated my clients very well, and have always been honest and very transparent. Although their whole team is very professional and punctual, Carissa and Sonya have been great to work with."


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