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Assistance with Flood Recovery

The Metropolitan Area Planning Agency has compiled a list of resources to help with the flood recovery. Please click on the link below to learn more:

http://mapacog.org/calendar/news/2019-floods-how-you-can-help-and-where-you-can-get-help/

 

The Nebraska Volunteer Service Commission has some information on recovery help:

http://www.serve.nebraska.gov/ 

 
Nebraska Extension also is providing some flood recovery information.

 

Water Quality

            Some water supplies may have been contaminated by flooding and Health Director Dr. Adi Pour warns that people can be exposed to serious health risks until it can be confirmed that tap water is safe.

            Flood water can become contaminated with fecal material, automotive waste and agricultural and industrial byproducts. The flood water can then contaminate your drinking water.

            Here are some general rules concerning water for drinking, cooking and washing:

  • Never use contaminated water to wash dishes, brush your teeth or wash your hands, to wash or prepare food, make ice or make baby formula.
  • Make sure bottled water is from a safe source. If you don’t know where it’s from, boil or treat it before you use it.
  • Boil water to kill harmful bacteria and parasites. Bringing water to a rolling boil for five minutes will kill most organisms. You can treat water with chlorine tablets, iodine tables or unscented household chlorine bleach, but that will not kill parasitic organisms.
  • Parents should keep children out of flood water, and don’t let them play in standing flood water.
  • Parents should wash their children’s hands frequently with treated water or alcohol-based hand sanitizers and keep them away from possibly contaminated toys that have not been disinfected.
  • Private well owners should have their water tested once the flooding recedes.

Septic Systems      

    Returning a septic system to service after a flood can be somewhat involved, but here are some basic steps to follow.

  • Do not pump your tank until surface and ground water recede to normal levels.
  • Do not pump unanchored tanks until the drain field is unsaturated. The tanks could float out of the ground or collapse.
  • Have septic systems inspected by a certified professional and serviced if not functioning properly.
  • Use as little water as possible while the system is restoring itself. Little things like taking laundry to a laundromat will help.
  • Do not dump flood waters that entered the house into plumbing that will go into the septic treatment system.
  • Do not drive over the system or set building materials over the system during clean-up or restoration activities. It is good to fence off the system to prevent those problems.
  • If the septic system will not accept wastewater after the floodwater has receded and the soil has dried, the drain field or soil may be plugged and a certified professional should be called.
  • Flood waters can partially or completely wash away components of septic systems. This is another situation in which you should call a certified professional.
  • If you observe surface discharge after the lateral area has dried, it is a sign of a failed septic system and a certified professional should be called to help.

 

Tetanus Shots

             The Douglas County Health Department recommends people who had to leave home because of flooding and those helping with flood relief check to see that they have had a tetanus shot in the last 10 years.

Flooding creates high-risk conditions for tetanus and the bacteria that cause tetanus often are found in the soil and dust that can wash into low-lying areas.

            Anyone who suffers an open wound, cut or deep puncture wound should contact their doctor. Tetanus usually requires hospitalization and death occurs in about three of 10 cases. The disease also is known as lockjaw, and a booster shot is required every 10 years.

            Here are some facts about tetanus:

  • Symptoms include painful spasms and muscle tightening, usually all over the body.
  • Those spasms can lead to the locking of the jaw so a person can’t swallow or breathe.
  • Tetanus cannot be transmitted from person to person.
  • Immunity only comes from vaccination and not from surviving tetanus, so if you had tetanus in the past, you still may need to get a tetanus shot.
  • Remember - tetanus is a vaccine-preventable disease.

Food Safety

 

             Flooding can affect the quality and safety of food at your home. Rules to follow include:

  • Never eat food that may have come into contact with flood water and throw out all fresh meat, poultry and produce.
  • Dispose of any food without a waterproof container if there’s even a chance it came in contact with flood water.
  • Food containers with screw caps, snap-lids, crimped caps (soda pop bottles) twist caps, flip tops and home-canned foods should be discarded if they were in contact with flood water.
  • Throw out anything in dented, leaking, bulging or rusted cans. The same goes for anything in an opened container or package.

            You may save and use undamaged, commercially canned foods if you remove the labels. Wash the cans in a strong detergent, using a scrub brush and immerse them for 15 minutes in a mix of one teaspoon of chlorine bleach per quart of room temperature water. Treat dishes and glassware the same way, but throw out anything with cracks.

            Put metal pans and utensils in boiling water for 10 minutes, but throw away wooden spoons, plastic utensils, baby bottle nipples and pacifiers. Only pre-made canned baby formula that requires no added water should be used for infants. Do not use powdered formulas made with treated water.

 

 

Mold Concerns

            The Douglas County Health Department reminds you flooding can create health concerns in your home.

            Here are some suggestions in the event water gets in your home:

  • Prevent mold growth by cleaning up quickly and drying out flooded buildings as soon as possible. Open doors and windows and use fans.
  • Mix no more than one cup of bleach in one gallon of water. Use a stiff brush to scrub the surface of any rough items and rinse with clean water.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water when cleaning or use alcohol-based sanitizers.
  • Wear protective gear like heavy work gloves, watertight boots, hard hats and goggles.
  • If injured, treat wounds with soap and clean water and apply an antibiotic ointment.
  • Call your doctor to see if you need a tetanus shot.

It is important to act quickly if water gets in your home as this can become an expensive problem and serious health concern in a short time.          

            Take out items that have been wet for two or more days, especially those that can’t easily be cleaned, such as things made from leather, paper, and wood or carpet. Cloth items can be washed in hot water. If an area larger than 10 square feet has been impacted or if there is moisture in the ventilation it is best to contact a professional.

 

Look Out for Stress in Children

            Many adults are feeling the stress of dealing with the area’s recent weather disaster, but Douglas County Health Director Dr. Adi Pour said parents and guardians need to remember that children are particularly vulnerable to this kind of stress.

            “Children may suffer from anxiety because of losses suffered in the disaster and the upheaval of family life,” Dr. Pour said. “Parents and others who care for children should look for signs of trouble and know what to do.”

            In children five years of age and younger, look out for more frequent crying, clinging, nightmares, excessive fear of the dark, fear of animals, fear of being alone, changing appetites or going back to outgrown behaviors like bed-wetting and thumb-sucking.

            Children five to 11 may have increased irritability, aggression and competition with their siblings for parental attention. The anxiety may show through whining, withdrawing from their peers and losing interest in normal activities.

            Those 11 to 18 years of age may show outright rebellion, physical problems or sleep disturbances.

            Here are some ideas to reduce stress in children:

  • Spend some time each day giving your child undivided attention and make plans with them.
  • Encourage your child to talk and describe what they are feeling. Let them ask questions about what happened.
  • Make an effort to understand their fears and let them know the disaster was an act of nature and not something they caused.

            Dr. Pour said one thing everyone can do is to reassure children they are safe. “Hold them and hug them frequently,” she said.

            More information on helping children cope with stress is on the Health Department’s website at www.douglascountyhealth.com.

 

Propane Tanks

Propane tanks are likely already firmly anchored, as that is a statutory requirement. However, if your propane tank is not firmly secured now, it should be strapped down.

Flood waters can easily move unanchored propane tanks, and that poses a serious threat to you, your family, public safety and the environment. Liquefied propane gas can be extremely volatile, and is potentially explosive if the tank ruptures and the escaping gas is ignited by a spark.

The tanks also can be damaging if they start to float, hitting walls or other objects. One way to secure the tank is with the use of ground anchors. Another is to chain the tank to a secured stationary object like a tree, not a building. There should be legs or lifting lugs on the tank that will serve your purpose. Use cable or chain, not rope, for this purpose.

Other things you can do to protect your propane tank and your property:

  • Mark your tank with your name, address and phone number in case it gets carried away by the flooding.
  • Take a picture of the tank manufacturer’s nameplate. This will help in recovery of the tank floats away.
  • If you have to evacuate, close the service valve on the propane cylinder or permanent tank – turn off the service vale to all propane appliances.
  • After the flood, contact your propane provider for help in restoring service. Please do not attempt to restore service yourself.

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