A Word about Flood Waters
Flood waters are dangerous. Besides the obvious threat to physical bodily harm and property damage, flood waters are polluted with debris and bacteria picked up from surfaces surrounding the waters including public sewage treatment plants and private subsurface sewage disposal systems. Other sources of potential pollution which may interact with rising flood waters include farm fields and solid waste disposal areas which may be prone to flooding and runoff.
Drinking water wells are especially susceptible to contamination. If your well head is submerged, consider the water contaminated and do not use it for any purposes until it can be disinfected. Discolored water or unusual tastes should be an alert that the well may have been contaminated. If flood waters have encroached on your well, it is strongly advised you have the well water tested for bacteria prior to resuming consumption. Wells can be decontaminated and guidelines for doing so are available on our website at www.tahd.org.
Subsurface sewage disposal systems should resume their normal function once flood waters have receded and the groundwater has gone back to normal levels. Until then, flooded septic systems could malfunction causing sewage to back up into the home. Avoid using the septic system until you are confident the system is functioning normally.
Should your residence or business become inundated by flood waters there is no sure way to disinfect absorbent materials such as upholstery and carpeting. Bacteria and mold can be present in these difficult to clean materials after flood waters have receded and the materials appear to have dried. Carpets and upholstered items exposed to flooding should be discarded. Absorbent materials that can be cleaned include linens, clothes and other items which can be put through a physical wash with chlorinated water. Items should then be thoroughly dried. Nonabsorbent furniture such as some wood, plastics and household items can be cleaned with a mild bleach solution. The best defense is moving susceptible furniture and belongings above the potential flood levels.
Absorbent building materials may have to be replaced as well. This includes wall board, trim and possibly flooring. Once flood waters have receded the soaked materials will support rapid mold growth which will reduce the indoor air quality of the home and could increase health risks to susceptible occupants.
Flood waters are dangerous, that cannot be overstated. Common sense and an abundance of caution should be followed throughout a flooding event. Contact your local authorities for advice and heed warnings and evacuation requests. Everyone at the TAHD wishes the residents of Kent being effected by the Housatonic flooding good luck and stay healthy.
Flood Waters and Storm Water Concerns
Bacteria in Private Drinking Water Wells
Flooding and Sewage Water
Sewage Backup Fact Sheet
Post Flood Fact Sheet