July 12, 2019 — Tropical Storm Barry is looming ever closer to residents of Louisiana.
Concerns about heavy rains and flooding aren’t limited to Louisiana. Mississippi, the Florida Panhandle, and Alabama are also at risk of flooding and extreme rain. President Donald Trump declared a federal emergency for Louisiana to start coordinating relief efforts between the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Residents are boarding up storefronts and setting up storm barriers to cut the chance of flood damage. Taking action before the storm may help lessen problems during and after the storm.
Tips for Handling the Approaching Storm
- Stay inside.
- Protect your windows and doors with plywood or permanent storm shutters.
- Tune into your local news stations for up-to-date information.
- If needed, find local emergency shelter.
- Fill plastic bottles with drinking water.
- Have a go-to packs ready, and plan out evacuation routes in your area.
What to Expect Afterward
After a storm, you and your family might face flooding, downed power lines, damage from mold, and other risks to your health.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service issued recommendations:
- Inspect canned foods; throw away damaged cans. Can damage is shown by swelling, leakage, punctures, holes, fractures, extensive rusting, or crushing/denting severe enough to prevent normal stacking or opening with a manual, wheel-type can opener.
- Throw away wooden cutting boards, plastic utensils, baby bottle nipples, and pacifiers that may have come in contact with floodwater. There is no way to safely clean them.
- Thoroughly wash metal pans, ceramic dishes, and utensils (including can openers) with soap and water (hot water if available). Rinse and sanitize them by boiling them in clean water or soaking them for 15 minutes in a solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of drinking water.
- If your refrigerator or freezer was submerged by floodwaters — even partially — it is unsafe to use and must be discarded.
- Any food that might have come in contact with floodwater needs to be thrown away as soon as possible.
- Perishable foods like meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products that have been out of a refrigerator because of power outages need to be tossed out.
- Unsafe food can make you sick even if it looks, smells, and tastes normal. When in doubt, throw it out.
Do not use water you suspect or have been told is contaminated to wash dishes, brush your teeth, wash and prepare food, wash your hands, make ice, or make baby formula.
After the storm has passed and cleanup is possible, major threats may still be lurking, such as gas leaks, debris, and sewage. Bugs, particularly mosquitoes, will be plentiful. Protect yourself with an approved repellant.
When the water recedes, mold is likeliy.
Exposure to mold can lead to an asthma attack, allergic reactions, or eye and skin irritations. Avoid contaminated buildings and contaminated water as much as you can. Mold is tricky. If you were not able to dry your home within 24 to 48 hours after a storm, there is a chance you have mold. Everything needs to be completely dried, even furniture, to prevent heath issues.
To clean mold, mix a cup of household bleach with a gallon of uncontaminated water. Or lightly mist mold spores with rubbing alcohol.
Do not mix bleach with ammonia, because it can create toxic vapors.
If the problem remains, you might need a professional mold service.