Wow. When it rains, it pours! Yesterday, our area got between 4 and 6 inches of rain in a very short time, which maxed out our local drain system capacity. With no room for the torrentially downpouring water to go, the drain system (which combines storm run-off with sewer drainage) backed up into most homes in our city and several surrounding ones. Freeways and surface streets were flooded, cars were stranded, people were stranded, and there was and is a lot of general yuckiness.
I have, sadly, heard of one fatality, but so far most of the consequences of the storm are related to stuff, and not to lives.
However, the “stuff yuckiness,” i.e. sewage-contaminated basement flooding, has the potential to cause more people-harm. So here are some resources:
The Oakland County Health Department has some great information: http://www.oakgov.com/health/Pages/Flood_Safety.aspx, as does the Red Cross: http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/flood.
Beware of electrical hazards. contact your local public safety and public works departments for guidance. Contact licensed flood/disaster recovery companies. If local companies are swamped (no pun intended), call companies from other cities a few hours away – they may be willing to travel, especially if you and several neighbors get together and offer them a bunch of customers.
Even if the flood water looks clean, it has a high likelihood of sewage contamination, so everything should be treated as if it is raw sewage (since it likely is, although it may be somewhat diluted raw sewage). Bleach is an excellent disinfectant, but it can be fatally dangerous if mixed with other chemicals. If you have a little bleach left in a bottle, and a little Lysol, for example, in another bottle, do NOT use them together in the same area – the chemicals can combine to form highly toxic gases.
Wear gloves and protective clothing. Don’t track the water through your house. Make sure you and your family have had Hepatitis immunizations.
I know it’s an awful experience to deal with a flood. Even if people are ok and it’s “only stuff,” the stuff that needs to be thrown away is a flood of memories, and the costs of repair and recovery can lead to an outpouring of money from your bank account.
Let the air flow and remember to breathe. Let the love flow – help your neighbors and let them help you. And buy a sump pump or two….