Five dan­gers of flood­wa­ter dur­ing and af­ter the storm

The Palm Beach Post - - AFTERMATH OF FLORENCE - Ti­mothy Wil­liams

Drench­ing rains were in­un­dat­ing North Carolina on Fri­day as Hur­ri­cane Florence crawled in­land. Storm surges, over­flow­ing water­ways and in­tense rain that might dump as much as 40 inches could leave en­tire com­mu­ni­ties un­der­wa­ter. “Cat­a­strophic flash flood­ing is ex­pected to con­tinue to worsen to­day,” the Na­tional Weather Ser­vice warned.

Here are five ways to avoid the risks as­so­ci­ated with flood­wa­ters, ac­cord­ing to the Fed­eral Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency and the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion:

1. Don’t drive.

Mo­torists should avoid flood­wa­ters. The gen­eral rule is if wa­ter flows more than half­way up a ve­hi­cle’s tires, you shouldn’t go any far­ther. Never drive through fast-mov­ing wa­ter be­cause a ve­hi­cle could be car­ried away within mo­ments. Flood­wa­ter can rise sud­denly and un­pre­dictably.

“Don’t drive your car while wa­ter cov­ers the road,” Ken Graham, di­rec­tor of the Na­tional Hur­ri­cane Cen­ter, said Fri­day. “We have a say­ing, ‘Turn around, don’t drown.’ It re­ally is true.”

2. Watch out for hid­den ob­jects.

Even shal­low wa­ter may con­tain downed elec­tri­cal wires or sharp ob­jects that could cause se­ri­ous in­jury. Wildlife such as snakes, al­li­ga­tors and dan­ger­ous in­sects can also hide in floods.

3. Limit ex­po­sure to wa­ter.

As­sume flood­wa­ters con­tain bac­te­ria that can se­ri­ously sicken peo­ple and an­i­mals, par­tic­u­larly if sew­ers have over­filled. Wa­ter may have mixed with agri­cul­tural chem­i­cals, oil, an­i­mal waste, sewage or other haz­ardous sub­stances.

Ex­po­sure to open wounds or drink­ing flood­wa­ter could lead to in­fec­tions or di­ar­rhea. If you have to go into the wa­ter, wear wa­ter­proof waders and your cover skin. Wash hands and other body parts that have come into con­tact with flood­wa­ter.

4. Only turn on power from a dry place.

Wa­ter may have dam­aged wiring and pipes from stoves, ovens, air-con­di­tion­ers and other ap­pli­ances and elec­tronic de­vices. Only switch on power if you can do so from a dry spot. But if you smell gas, shut off the gas valve and open all win­dows be­fore leav­ing the house, and in­form the gas com­pany or emer­gency ser­vices. If you smell gas, do not turn on the lights or do any­thing else that might cause a spark.

5. Pro­tect against mold.

Af­ter a flood, res­i­dents should dry out their homes and thor­oughly wash floors, walls, toys and cloth­ing af­ter the wa­ters re­cede. In­su­la­tion should be re­placed. Open all doors, in­clud­ing clos­ets, to al­low air flow. Open kitchen cab­i­nets. Re­move draw­ers and wipe them clean. Wipe ev­ery­thing clean and al­low it to dry.

CHIP SOMODEVILLA / GETTY IMAGES

Tom Dun­ton searches through be­long­ings in his garage af­ter a 4-foot storm surge pro­duced by Hur­ri­cane Florence ripped through the Queen’s Point con­dos along the Nuese River on Satur­day in New Bern, North Carolina.

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