GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- Now that the flood waters are receding in West Michigan, the long and stressful work of drying out has begun for those affected.

According to the Healthy Homes Coalition of West Michigan, drying out completely is critical or another problem may arise: Mold.

"Damp environments are going to promote mold growth if we don't dry out homes quickly," says Paul Haan, Executive Director for Healthy Homes Coalition of West Michigan. "Mold is everywhere in our environment and what we want to avoid is the house being a conducive place [for mold] to propagate rampantly."

The Healthy Homes Coalition is offering these four important tips for people as they begin the drying out process:

1. Ideally, the home should be dried out in 24-48 hours.

2. Porous items such as clothing, upholstered furniture and other belongings can hold a lot of moisture and promote mold growth. These items need to be dried quickly. if they can't be dried out in 24-48 hours, disposal is recommended.

3. Humidity in the air can promote rampant mold growth. Fans, Ventilation and dehumidifiers should be used to bring the ambient humidity of the home down below 50%.

4. Ceilings, floors and walls may need to be opened up to promote drying. Porous building materials that have gotten wet (drywall, carpeting, compressed wood products, ceiling tiles and the like) should be removed and disposed.

"People that got flooded out could definitely be dealing with mold after the fact for quite a while, says Haan. "We need to dry out as quickly as possible. I would say that if you have water in your basement and you're thinking about dealing with it this weekend, tell your boss you need a day off to deal with it today or tomorrow and get on it right away."

Haan added that even though the standing water looks of feels like the damage is already done, leaving it there longer can make the damage worse and could ultimately lead to mold growth.

If you do see mold, the next step is to hire a contractor but, according to Haan, that process shouldn't be taken lightly.

"We caution people to be very leery because the mold industry is not highly regulated by the state government entities, so we really encourage people to get multiple bids to make sure those contracts are thorough," said Haan.

The Healthy Homes Coalition of West Michigan has provided several links to mold, what to look for and how to select trained and experienced contractors:

Quick info:

In-depth information: