Throughout the South and Southeast, Hurricane Isaac is having a two-fold effect. In some areas, the heavy rains are providing much needed relief from drought conditions. Though in other areas, the rains are so intense that they are causing severe flooding of homes and businesses. When storms like Isaac hit, there is little you can do to prevent severe flooding from causing damage, and often you are simply left cleaning up after the fact. Take precautions when cleaning up after a flood and avoid the hidden dangers that flood waters can often hold.
- Mold – Mold spores are ever-present, and unless you live or work in a highly specialized area where the filtration is exceptional, there are mold spores around you every day. Air purifiers can lessen the mold spores in the air but because they so ubiquitous, they are difficult to completely eliminate. Severe flooding can cut power and put homes under several inches to several feet of water. The warmth of summer and introduction of this excess moisture makes flooded homes ripe for mold growth.
- Cholera – Though instances of Cholera are rare in the United States, severe flooding can cause major problems as water treatment plants and other infrastructure that handle waste waters can back up and contaminate flood waters. Hurricane Isaac has raised worries of a flare up in cases of Cholera in Haiti.
- West Nile – Standing water is the perfect breeding grounds for mosquitoes, and with mosquitoes come a host of problems. In recent years, cases of West Nile, spread through mosquito bites, have risen throughout the South. This year in particular has seen a spike in West Nile cases and fatalities. Receding flood waters can leave pools of water where mosquitoes lay eggs and further the spread of diseases like West Nile. While spraying efforts can dampen the effect, wearing loose fitting clothing and using repellents can do much to alleviate this hazard.
Other mosquito-borne illnesses (like malaria) as well as other bacteria and viruses can also use flood waters as a breeding ground and means of dissemination.
Though weather caused flooding is not often preventable, there is much you can do to limit the damage and health problems that can arise from flood waters. Using proper protection during clean up, like gloves, HEPA masks, and rubber boots can limit exposure to harmful viruses, while heavy duty air purifiers and water damage dehumidifiers can inhibit mold growth and filter out airborne contaminants.
If you have weathered summer storms, take care while cleaning up after the fact and don’t let one major problem spiral in to several others.
Author: Kevin Gilmore