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Indoor Air Quality Alert: Alberta Flooding

What is the location of the flooding?

Alberta, Canada is flooding following heavy rains which extinguished regional wildfires. Flooding is occurring in Yellowhead County in west central Alberta (1)(2).

Which cities or areas are affected by the flooding?

The areas directly affected by the flooding include:

  • Lower Robb: An evacuation order was issued for residents in Lower Robb, a hamlet approximately 250 kilometers west of Edmonton. Some parts of Robb are affected by the order.
  • Cadomin: The community of Cadomin is experiencing a power outage due to snowstorms that have knocked down transmission lines. The electricity in Cadomin could be out for several days. Highway 40, south of Cadomin, is closed.
  • Edson: The town of Edson, home to around 8,000 people, has been extensively flooded. Roads have washed out, and homes and businesses are flooded. More than a dozen homes had already flooded, and the number was expected to rise.
  • Peers: The southern parts of Peers, a hamlet located 40 kilometers northeast of Edson, have been placed under a shelter-in-place order due to flooding. The Peers Bridge has been compromised, and emergency responders are assisting residents in leaving the area.
  • Whitecourt: The town of Whitecourt, about 100 kilometers northeast of Edson, has declared a state of local emergency due to flooding. Evacuation orders have been issued for some riverfront properties, including the Westview Mobile Village and Sagitawah RV Park.

What is the current containment status of the flooding?

The current containment status of the flooding is ongoing. Rivers and creeks in the affected areas continue to overflow their banks, threatening homes and infrastructure. Emergency responders are urging residents to avoid washed-out roads, prepare for power outages, and stay away from downed power lines. The flooding situation remains dynamic, with flood watches in place for the McLeod River and Athabasca River at Whitecourt. Water levels on the Athabasca and McLeod rivers are expected to peak Tuesday evening, putting low-lying areas in Whitecourt at risk.

Are there any evacuation orders or alerts in place?

Residents of Lower Robb in Yellowhead County have been ordered to evacuate their homes [3]. A shelter-in-place order has been issued for southern parts of Peers, and the Peers Bridge has been compromised by flooding. In Whitecourt, evacuation orders have been issued for riverfront properties, and residents are advised to exercise extreme caution near the surging waters. Authorities are actively responding to the flooding and providing assistance to affected individuals and communities.

How can I protect myself from mold after flooding?

It’s important to take steps to prevent mold after a flood.

  • Before entering a flooded area, make sure it is safe and free from electrical hazards or structural damage.
  • Use protective gear: wear gloves, goggles, and a KN95/FFP2 mask to minimize exposure to mold spores.
  • If there is still standing water, remove it as quickly as possible. Use pumps, wet-dry vacuums, or buckets to extract the water.
  • Open windows and doors to facilitate air circulation and use fans, dehumidifiers, and HVAC systems to help dry the space. This step is crucial within the first 24-48 hours after flooding to prevent mold growth.
  • Remove and discard any items that have been severely damaged by floodwater and cannot be thoroughly cleaned and dried. This includes carpets, upholstered furniture, mattresses, and any other porous materials.
  • Thoroughly clean all hard surfaces with a detergent or cleaner suitable for mold remediation. Use a solution of 1.5 cups of bleach mixed with one gallon of water to disinfect nonporous surfaces. Never mix bleach with ammonia or other cleaning products, as the fumes are toxic.
  • Maintain an indoor relative humidity (RH) of 35-50%. High humidity promotes mold growth, so consider using dehumidifiers in damp areas.
  • Run a high-performance air purifier for mold, both during and after the mold removal work.
  • If the flooding and mold damage are extensive, consider contacting professionals specializing in mold remediation to ensure proper cleanup and restoration.

Remember, mold can pose health risks, so it's important to take these steps promptly and thoroughly. If you experience persistent mold-related health issues or have concerns about extensive mold growth, consult with a medical professional or a mold remediation specialist.

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