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Indoor Air Quality Alert: South Texas Flood Watch

What is the location of the flooding?

As of June 20, 2024, The U.S. National Weather Service issued a Flood Watch for South Texas due to heavy rain associated with Tropical Storm Alberto, the first named storm of the season (1). Northeastern Mexico has already been impacted by flooding, where three people have died (2).

In South Texas, significant coastal flooding is expected around the bays and on low elevation roads, particularly those providing beach access. The flooding event is also affecting the northeastern Mexican states of Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, and Tamaulipas. 5 to 10 inches of rain is expected in parts of Mexico and Texas but could reach as high as 20 inches in higher elevations of Mexico (3).

The region has recently experienced drought and extreme heat. While rain is needed, dry soil is less capable of absorbing water can increase the risk of flooding.

Which cities or areas are affected by the flooding?

In Texas, the affected areas include:

In Mexico, impacted cities include:

Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, and Tamaulipas states are all being affected by the flooding.

What is the current containment status of the flooding?

Efforts are ongoing to manage and mitigate the effects of the flooding. In Texas, the National Guard and Texas A&M Forest Service have mobilized personnel and resources, including Chinook helicopters, to respond to the flooding.

In Mexico, shelters have been prepared, and local authorities are actively managing the flood response. Despite these efforts, significant flooding and coastal erosion continue to pose challenges.

Are there any evacuation orders or alerts in place?

In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott has issued a disaster declaration for 51 counties in response to the severity of the potential flooding and the possible need for extensive resources.

In Mexico, schools in Tamaulipas are closed through Friday, and metro and public transportation services in Monterrey are suspended until midday Thursday. Residents in both regions are advised to have emergency supplies ready and stay informed about potential evacuation orders.

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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