Indoor Air Quality Alert: Upper Midwest US Flooding

What is the location of the flooding?

As of June 24, 2024, flooding from heavy rains has impacted cities along the Mississippi river (1)(2). At least one person in South Dakota has died, while hundred of homes were destroyed by the floods (3).

Which cities or areas are affected by the flooding?

Flooding has severely impacted multiple locations across the Midwest, primarily in Iowa and South Dakota. Here are the key affected areas:

  • Dakota Dunes, South Dakota: There is a voluntary evacuation due to its proximity to Missouri and Big Sioux Rivers.
  • Rock Rapids, Iowa: Heavy flooding affecting homes and infrastructure.
  • Rock Valley, Iowa: There are evacuations due to severe flooding from the Rock River in Rock Valley.
  • Sioux City, Iowa: There are evacuations from the Riverside area due to rising water levels in the Big Sioux River.
  • Sioux Rapids, Iowa: Flooding from the Little Sioux River has impacted this city.
  • Spencer, Iowa: Significant damage has taken place and there are curfews due to record-breaking floods.
  • Waterville, Minnesota: There is severe flooding between Lakes Tetonka and Sakatah, causing unprecedented water levels.

What is the current containment status of the flooding?

Flooding containment varies by region:

  • Northwest Iowa: Water levels on some rivers are stabilizing but not yet falling. Efforts are ongoing to control floodwaters, with sandbagging and other flood mitigation measures in place.
  • South Dakota: Rivers such as the Big Sioux, James, and Vermillion are expected to peak between Monday and Wednesday, with levee surveillance by the Army Corps of Engineers.
  • Minnesota: Floodwaters continue to rise in areas like Waterville, with the National Guard deployed to assist in response efforts.

Are there any evacuation orders or alerts in place?

A state of emergency has been declared by the Governors of South Dakota and Minnesota, while Iowa has issued an emergency declaration for five counties (4). It’s the third disaster declaration declared in Iowa since April, as the state has been affected by tornadoes as well as flooding (5).

Several evacuation orders and alerts have been issued across the affected regions:

  • Sioux City, Iowa: Mandatory and voluntary evacuations in Riverside and other neighborhoods near the Big Sioux River.
  • Rock Valley, Iowa: Residents forced to evacuate after the Rock River reached record levels.
  • Dakota Dunes, South Dakota: Voluntary evacuation in place with potential for mandatory orders if flood barriers fail.
  • Spencer, Iowa: Curfews implemented to ensure safety and facilitate emergency response.
  • Correctionville, Iowa: Red Cross shelter opened for displaced individuals.

For continuous updates and detailed information on the flood containment efforts and evacuation notices, residents and concerned individuals are advised to monitor local news sources and official statements from emergency management authorities.

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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