Gutting a House After a Hurricane

Gutting & Demolition

Tips from demo in MS after Hurricane Katrina  (2006)

Needed Equipment:

  • Duct tape (for refrigerator disposal)
  • 2 crescent wrenches (disconnect plumbing)
  • Flat bars for each team member
  • A maul or mini sledge hammer
  • Big shovels
  • Wheel barrows
  • Hammers
  • Utility knifes (for carpet removal, etc.)
  • Battery powered drill with flat head and Phillips head bits
  • Wire cutters
  • Dolly
  • Masks & gloves for each crew member

Gutting: Step 1

Goal: Remove Debris

Clear out the house of immediate debris with shovels & wheelbarrows & deposit debris between ditch and roadside.  Try to keep debris out of the ditch when possible and out of the road entirely.


  • Snakes:  Use a tool to nudge debris to check for snakes.  There are both harmful and harmless snakes in Mississippi, so be cautious.
  • Storm water:  Plastic containers stored anywhere including in rafters may have septic water from the storm in them.  Carefully remove these containers before demolition in areas around them.  Glasses in cabinets may also have storm water in them.
  • Refrigerators: Tape up the refrigerators well before moving if possible!  Decaying food and meats along with storm water remain inside, and the smell is extremely unbearable when opened!!!!   Use duct tape to go around the middle to tape door closed and tape around the door seal to keep water from leaking out.

Gutting: Step 2

Goal: Tear Down Damaged Material

Remove trim (floorboards, door trim, window trim, etc.), electric plates, lighting fixtures and cabinets with flat bars and hammers to make wall removal easier.  Pull down drywall and or paneling next, along with any insulation. Dispose of material by roadside.


  • Cabinets: make sure contents of cabinets have been emptied first.
  • Sinks: Detach drain pipe as well as the supply tubing above the water cutoff valves so that sink can be removed.  You will likely need to shut off the water from these valves.
  • Ceilings: look in attic or rafters for stored materials before pulling ceiling down
  • Fixtures: cut wires close to the base of the lights so the wire can be reused for the new fixtures
  • Carpets: mud—either wet or dry—makes carpets difficult and heavy to remove.  Pull up a corner of the carpet and cut into smaller pieces from the bottom with a utility knife.


  • Cockroaches: will likely be present, but are not harmful.  Enjoy the variation of colors and jumping/flying skills.
  • Wasps: may be present. Bring spray.
  • Mold: wear masks when pulling down drywall and insulation—there will be a lot of mold.