Indoor Air Quality Alert: South Florida Flash Flooding

What is the location of the flooding?

As of the morning of June 13, 2024, flooding is occurring across South Florida due to torrential rains (1). Flooding, including instances of flash flooding, is primarily affecting the Miami and Fort Lauderdale areas. Several counties are under a state of emergency, including Broward, Collier, Lee, Miami-Dade, and Sarasota (2).

Fort Lauderdale experienced more than a month’s average rainfall in one day.

Flooding is being caused by severe weather associated with Invest 90-L, a broad area of low pressure that has led to widespread heavy rainfall and consequential flooding across this region. While heavy rains can be a common occurrence in Florida, climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of these events.

Which cities or areas are affected by the flooding?

The National Weather Service has issued a flood watch for most of South Florida (4). The cities and areas directly impacted by the flooding include:

What is the current containment status of the flooding?

There are ongoing efforts to mitigate the flooding. Although flood warnings have expired in some areas, residual flooding continues, and several roads remain closed. Emergency management staff are deploying high-water vehicles and vacuum trucks to help alleviate the flooding.

Additional rounds of heavy rain are forecasted, which could exacerbate the situation further.

Are there any evacuation orders or alerts in place?

While there are no specific evacuation orders, authorities have urged residents in hard-hit areas to stay in their residences and avoid driving or walking through floodwaters.

The Governor of Florida has declared a state of emergency, allowing for state aid and activating the Florida National Guard and Florida State Guard as needed. This includes directing the allocation of resources and personnel to respond to the emergency.

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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