Originally sourced from Sentinel-Standard
"IONIA COUNTY — As cleanup efforts continue after heavy rain and snow melt caused widespread flooding, citizens are being encouraged to remove flood-damaged items and clean their structures, but to do it safely.
Ionia County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. William Hoskins, who serves as the county’s emergency manager, said cleanup has been going “pretty well.” Only a few homes experienced extensive damage from flood waters, mainly on Mill and Colby streets near Cleveland Street in Ionia.
“The homeowners are working on it on their own, since there’s no specific funding available from federal or state programs for cleanup. That may change in the future but not now,” said Hoskins. “With roads we’re mostly back to business as normal.”
According to Dorothy Pohl, managing director of the Ionia County Road Commission, five roads remain closed due to high water:
Eaton Highway between M-66 and Harwood Road
Harwood Road between Eaton Highway and Tupper Lake Road
Elm Road between Brooks and Clarksville roads
Bliss Road between Grand River Avenue and Peck Lake Road
Tupper Lake between Charlotte Highway and Turner Road
Hoskins said he’s submitted the preliminary damage assessment for Ionia County, which is right around $400,000, to the state. Three-quarters of the estimate is for roads, and the bulk of that is for culverts on Nickelplate Road, said Pohl.
“It’s a lot less than 2013. That’s pretty much the trend across the state,” Hoskins said. Once other counties complete their damage assessments and submit them, the state will look at them as a package to evaluate for eligibility for funding.
For those who did have flood damage, Hoskins recommended that items that are beyond repair be removed from the home and disposed of appropriately in a landfill or recycling center. If items can be salvaged, he recommended drying them completely to prevent mold and mildew from growing. For basements and carpets, Hoskins suggested contacting a professional flood restoration service to do the work.
“Be cautious of drywall and areas exposed to water, which may still be wet and susceptible to mold growth from inside the wall,” he said.
The Michigan State Police Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division suggests that home and business owners clean and dry out the building quickly to prevent mold growth. Open doors and windows, and use fans to dry out the building. Clean wet items and surfaces with detergent and water. To remove mold growth, wear rubber gloves, open windows and doors and clean with a bleach solution of one cup of bleach in one gallon of water. Throw away porous items (for example, carpet and upholstered furniture) that cannot be dried quickly.
Ken Bowen, health officer from the Ionia County Health Department, suggested wearing gloves whenever cleaning up after a flood, and make sure the area you are cleaning is well-ventilated or that you have adequate breathing protection. Also, wash your hands thoroughly after any cleanup activities.
“If there is mold present, we recommend that people follow the steps for cleanup at www.michigan.gov/documents/mdch/STEPS_FOR_CLEANING_MOLD_-_WEB_MDCH_473600_7.pdf,” Bowen added.
Another website the health department has been pointing citizens to regarding cleaning up after a flood is www.cdc.gov/disasters/floods/cleanupwater.html.
Hoskins said anyone who has a well head that has been exposed to flood waters must remember that the contaminated water can contaminate the well, and home and business owners should follow proper procedures for sanitizing and testing their wells.
“We’ve also been trying to get the word out that, if your well was submerged, you should not drink the water until the well has been disinfected and tested,” said Bowen. “We recommend that people use a registered well driller for disinfection, but we also have step-by-step instructions on our website and Facebook page. We have testing bottles and we can instruct people regarding sample collection and nearby labs for testing.”
Visit ioniacounty.org/health-department and on Facebook IoniaCountyHD for that information.
Another danger during cleanup is potential poisoning from carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless gas produced by many types of equipment and that is poisonous to breathe. The MSP/EMHSD recommends not using a pressure washer or generator inside your home. If your carbon monoxide detector sounds, leave your home immediately and call 911. Seek prompt medical attention if you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning and are feeling dizzy, light-headed or nauseated.
The MSP/EMHSD also recommends those in the midst of cleanup pace themselves and seek support from family, friends or professionals. Be alert to physical and emotional exhaustion or strain and try not to work alone.
To prevent musculoskeletal injuries, use teams of two or more people to move bulky objects. Avoid lifting any material that weighs more than 50 pounds per person. Wear protective gear, like hard hats, goggles, heavy work gloves and watertight boots with steel toes and insoles (not just steel shank). Wear earplugs or protective headphones to reduce risk from equipment noise.
“As the flood waters recede and Michigan residents begin to clean their homes, schools and businesses, we want everyone to take steps to ensure they stay safe,” said Capt. Chris A. Kelenske, deputy director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and commander of the MSP/EMHSD. “We want everyone to be mindful of the dangers involved with water damage and take the necessary precautions.”
For additional information about what to do before, during and after flooding, visit www.michigan.gov/miready."