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Wayne County Health Department Advises Precautions for Cleanup of Flooded Basements, Structures

WAYNE COUNTY, MI. - The Wayne County Public Health Emergency Preparedness unit and the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management urges residents to take important health and safety precautions while cleaning flooded basements and structures after storms or other extreme weather events or emergencies, such as the flooding rains experienced on April 30-May 2.

"This emergency doesn't end because the rain stopped," said Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans. "Wayne County will continue to support residents recovering flood damage as best we can and provide resources as they become available. It's important that flood cleanups are as thorough as possible to avoid long-term problems like mold."

On May 2, Wayne County declared a State of Emergency following widespread flooding and damage to approximately 3,000 homes in the County. Employees from Wayne County's Departments of Public Services, Heath, Veterans, and Community Wellness (HVCW), and Homeland Security and Emergency Management have been working in a coordinated effort since the flooding began.

"It's critically important that residents continue to be vigilant about safety during the cleanup process," said Dr. Ruta Sharangpani of the Wayne County HVCW. "We advise residents to keep kids and pets away from clean up areas, and to use dehumidifiers to dry out basements or other areas."


· When inside a flooded basement or building, wear protective gear such as gloves, goggles and boots.

· Hose down the inside of the basement/structure to remove health hazards from possible flood water mud. Shovel out as much mud as possible. Quickly remove the water you use during this cleaning.

· Clean and dry out basement or structure thoroughly within 24 to 48 hours after flooding to help prevent the growth of mold.

· Help the drying process by using fans, air conditioning units and dehumidifiers.

· If flood water did not get behind the structure's walls, you can reduce the chances of mold and mildew formation in basements and homes by wiping down all flood water-affected surfaces. Use a solution of one cup of liquid household bleach to a gallon of water.

· Throw away any food that has come in contact with flood waters and dented or damaged canned goods that may have become contaminated.

· Replace any drywall and insulation that has been soaked by flood waters.

· Remove and discard carpeting, rugs, drywall, mattresses, furniture and other items that cannot be washed and disinfected if it is believed that they came in contact with flood water mixed with raw sewage.

· When cleaning, never mix bleach with ammonia or other household cleaners. Mixing bleach or ammonia or other cleaning products can produce dangerous, toxic fumes causing serious injury or even death. Keep windows and doors open to provide fresh air for ventilation during the cleaning process.

· Never turn power on or off or use an electrical tool or appliance while standing in water.

· Do not enter the basement or other area where floodwaters have reached any electrical outlets or panels.

· Keep children and pets out of work area. Do not eat, drink, chew gum, or smoke while cleaning.

· Wash cleaning clothes in hot water and detergent separately from family laundry.

· In the weeks and months following clean-up, watch for the growth of mold, which can cause illness. Mold appears as spots that can be many different colors and gives off a musty odor. Mold should be removed immediately with a mixture of one cup bleach (8 oz.) to every gallon of water.

· After clean-up, make sure electrical outlets are safe to use before restoring electrical power.

· Service damaged septic tanks, cesspools, pits and leaching systems as soon as possible. Damaged sewage systems are health hazards.

· Wells providing drinking water to homes and businesses that were infiltrated by flood waters should be pumped out and the water should be tested for purity before drinking. Drinking water contaminated with bacteria and germs can cause illness.

For more information, visit the Wayne County website at or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention webpage at

Residents with questions should call the Environmental Health Division at (734) 727-7400.

Residents should contact their city or township government to report flooding.

Wayne County Public Health Emergency Preparedness is a unit of the Department of Health, Veterans and Community Wellness - Wellness Services Division.