Flood Victims Displaced For Months During Clean Up And Asbestos Testing

Illustration of potential asbestos exposure in a building

Umi Street flood victims in Honolulu, Hawaii will be displaced for two more months while clean up and asbestos tests are conducted beginning on Monday.

Victim mediator Chuck Crumpton said, “The important thing is to get the right experts in there to make sure that mold, fungus, asbestos, and anything that can cause health problems is handled properly.”

“Getting the right experts in there early on can really speed things up and not doing that can really slow things down a lot,” said Crumpton. “Two months does not sound out of the ballpark if you’ve got pretty extensive damage in nine units like that.”

After asbestos testing, the walls and some flooring will have to be removed. In the meantime, Joey Manahan, Councilman for the district, called on the Institute for Human Services to arrange housing for the flood victims.

“We just gotta make do with what we have until we find more room or another place,” said flood victim Aaron Meyer. Most families hosed down their homes to get out mud and searched through their remaining belongings to see what could be salvaged.

Some homes are livable, but all homes will need to be cleared out during asbestos testing and clean up.

“Through our service providers, they’re able to work with other landlords in the city to be able to place folks into an apartment into a studio depending on the need,” said Meyer. “We gotta find out all the details, so if it’s affordable for us, if we could afford it, just go from there and see what happens.”

Natural disasters such as hurricanes, fires, tornadoes, and floods can result in significant damage to homes and commercial buildings. If these structures contain asbestos, the harmful particles may become friable, and can be inhaled by people, as well as pets.

Often, those responsible for the recovery and clean up in the wake of a natural disaster, fire, or flood are exposed to harmful asbestos and are at risk for developing mesothelioma cancer.

First responders and those assisting with rescue, recovery, and rebuilding efforts are not the only individuals at risk of exposure following a natural disaster. All people who are present in a location where asbestos fibers have become airborne face the risk of asbestos inhalation.

Therefore, it’s important to exercise proper handling precautions after natural disasters to ensure asbestos exposure protection. In an emergency situation, you’ll want a mask that covers your nose and mouth.

Bottled water is also important in order to wet asbestos products so they’re less likely to become airborne. Plus, disposable gloves, protective eyewear, clothing, and booties are imperative to not transfer asbestos from one location to another.