After the flood, caution remains a priority

From Staff Reports

   Portions of Carter County and Unicoi County continue to clean up after torrential rainfall pounded the area last week claiming two lives and forcing evacuations of residents in both counties. The American Red Cross staffed several shelters and fed over 199 meals Wednesday in Carter County, according to the Carter County office. Over 450 total meals were served in Unicoi, Johnson and Carter counties during the week.
   Five families in Carter County were assisted with shelter and/or other disaster caused needs. Families experiencing flooding damage were also assisted in Hawkins, Sullivan, Unicoi and Johnson counties. Assessment teams spent Thursday and Friday surveying damages while caseworkers are meeting with individual families who had flood waters in the living area of their homes to assist them with emergency needs.
   The Red Cross also urges everyone to review the following safety issues as they continue clean-up efforts:
   * Roads may be closed because they have been damaged or covered by water. Barricades have been placed for your protection. If you come upon a barricade or a flooded road, go another way;
   * Keep listening to the radio for news about what to do, where to go, or places to avoid;
   * Emergency workers will be assisting people in flooded areas. You can help them by staying off the roads and out of the way. If you must walk or drive in areas that have been flooded, the Red Cross urges citizens to take the following precautions:
   * Stay on firm ground. Moving water only 6 inches deep can sweep you off your feet. Standing water may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.
   * Flooding may have caused familiar places to change. Floodwaters often erode roads and walkways. Flood debris may hide animals and broken bottles, and it is also very slippery. Avoid walking or driving through floodwaters.
   * Staying healthy is an important concern for you, your family, and your neighbors. A flood can cause emotional and physical stress. You need to look after yourself and your family as you focus on clean-up and repair.
   * Rest often and eat well. If fresh food has come in contact with floodwaters, throw it out. Boil drinking water before using. Wells should be pumped out and the water tested for purity before drinking. If in doubt, call your local public health department.
   Cleaning up and repairing your home is the biggest concern for most people following a flood.
   * Turn off the electricity at the main breaker of the fuse box, even if the power is off in your community. That way, you can decide when your home is dry enough to turn it back on;
   * Electrical equipment should be checked and dried before returning to use;
   * Use flashlights, not lanterns, torches, or matches, to examine buildings since flammable substances may be inside;
   * Report broken utility lines to appropriate authorities.
   The Red Cross can provide information to help after a flood including how to protect your home and belongings from further damage, recording damage to support insurance claims and requests for assistance, checking for gas or water leaks and how to have service restored and how to clean appliances and other belongings.
   Red Cross and local authorities also warn citizens to check references of contractors selected to do repair work on a residence damaged by flooding. Be wary of people who drive through neighborhoods offering help in cleaning up or repairing homes.