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Indoor Air Quality Alert: Gulf Coast U.S. Flooding

What is the location of the flooding?

Widespread flooding caused by severe storms impacted the U.S. Gulf Coast on April 10 through 11, 2024.

The flooding primarily affected several states in the southern United States, including Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama (1)(2). The storm system moved east, triggering storm and flash-flood warnings in Georgia and Florida.

One person died in Scott County, Mississippi and 10 people in Slidell, Louisiana were injured due to the storms.

Which cities or areas are affected by the flooding?

The cities, towns, and regions directly impacted by the flooding include:

What is the current containment status of the flooding?

Containment efforts are underway, but the situation remains challenging due to the severity of the flooding. The Sewerage & Water Board in New Orleans has struggled to keep up with the volume of rainfall and operate drainage systems effectively (4). Additionally, power outages and damage to infrastructure, such as broken poles and downed power lines, have hindered containment efforts. As a result, progress in controlling the floodwaters may be slow, and ongoing monitoring and response are necessary to mitigate further damage.

Are there any evacuation orders or alerts in place?

Evacuation orders and alerts have been issued in several areas affected by the flooding. In St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, an emergency declaration was signed, and shelters were opened for residents. Reports of water rescues indicate the need for caution and potential evacuation in affected neighborhoods, such as Slidell and Lake Charles.

Additionally, road closures and flooded areas have prompted warnings from authorities to avoid travel if possible, highlighting the seriousness of the situation and the importance of heeding evacuation orders or alerts for safety.

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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