Over 5 Million homes in the Houston and suburb areas had flooding issues and as people return home, they will face the troubling issues that Hurricane Harvey displaced on their residence. So we want to let you know what will happen to these flooded houses—will their owners ever move back in?

It all depends on the severity of the flooding seeing that multiple areas of Houston had different levels of flooding. For homes that are completely underwater or that are flooded to the upper floors, the cost of repairing their home will probably exceed the cost of moving to a new home. At the very least, the interior finishes of a waterlogged house must be stripped and replaced. High water can also damage the wiring, gas lines, furnace, and septic tank systems, as well as furniture and appliances. Mold is also an issue, so stripping drywall and gutting the home might be the best option.

Wind and water can cause a house’s structural components—the struts, studs, to shift or warp. Also the foundation can also shift or warp along with added weight from water and other damage could cause shifting. Tilting walls or a shifted roof also suggest dangerous structural damage that could signal an imminent collapse. Flood victims should check the foundations of their homes for cracks before venturing inside.

Brick and masonry houses will suffer less exterior damage than those made of wood. In all types of housing, though, flooding will most likely destroy the interior walls. Soaked wallboard becomes so weak that it must be replaced, as do most kinds of wall insulation. Studs will eventually dry out and return to their original shape, but any plywood in the walls is likely to swell and peel apart.

Structural hazards account for only one category of water damage. Floods often deposit dirt and microorganisms throughout the house. Silt and sediment can create short circuits in the electrical system as gunk collects in walls and in the spaces behind each switch box and outlet. Appliances, furnaces, and lighting fixtures also fill with mud, making them dangerous to use.

A long-lasting flood provides more time for the mold to grow and requires more cleanup after the fact. Carpets have to be thrown away, along with mattresses, bedding, and most upholstered furniture. Kitchen items, clothes, washing machines, and dryers must be disinfected with bleach, and all surviving interior surfaces should be cleaned to prevent mold growth. Standing water in a house can also serve as a breeding ground for insects and other animals.