Stay Safe: After A Flood

This is a condensed overview of emergency preparedness before, during and after a flood. The Alberta WaterPortal will take steps to ensure that Albertans and the water community are kept up-to-date on emergency procedures and this page will be updated periodically but there may be instances where information is not as current as it can possibly be. It is the responsibility of the individual to stay informed about emergency procedures and current practices. For comprehensive guide and step-by-step instruction read the following documents visit the Alberta Emergency Management Agency's Flood Preparedness document and Floods: What to do? by Get Prepared. 

Immediately After Flood

  • Re-entering your home: Only return to your home or business when authorities have deemed it safe to do so

  • Ensure building is safe:

- Look for structural damage like buckled floors or walls as well as debris

- Look for notices from your municipal building inspections, or your utilities provider. 

  • Clean: Flood water can be contaminated with sewage or pollution. Alberta Health Services has an extensive guide outlining how to safely and effectively clean your home after a flood (http://www.albertahealthservices.ca/Advisories/ne-pha-cleaning-house.pdf)

- Some materials may require extra care when cleaning. The Alberta Museums Association has a number of flood resources that outlines how to care for photographs or family heirlooms.  

  • Document: If you have power, store damaged papers in the freezer until they are needed. Take photographs or video of the damage. 

- Speak to your insurance agent: you may be asked to take a sample of flood water[8]  

- Keep a record of the property you dispose and discard according to local regulations

Post- Flood Considerations for Farmers 

  • Don't forget your own safety. During cleanup, should an injury (even cuts and scrapes) occur, you should receive a tetanus immunization.
  • Survey property carefully: check the structure of all buildings and remove any debris before releasing your animals 
  • Check animals: Keep returning animals away from the rest of the herd. Watch for dehydration. Make sure livestock drinking water is clean and uncontaminated. Don’t use feed that may have been contaminated with chemicals or pesticides. 
  • Monitor health of animals: report illness or death at once to veterinarian or provincial government authorities. Floodwater or contact with other animals may result in disease so watch for the following illnesses: blackleg, fungal disease, leptospirosis, tetanus, anthrax, and foot-rot. If you see evidence of disease contact your veterinarian right away 
  • Make sure equipment and supplies are clean: Clean and disinfect equipment that may have come into contact with flood waters. Test the water supply as soon as possible. Mouldy grain and forage is a potential health hazard. Watch for damp grain or hay and avoid feeding mouldy or damp hay to young, lactating or pregnant animals[9].   

Long-Term Recovery

Mental Health

  • Coping with the aftermath of flooding can be stressful and traumatizing. The Government of Alberta has a number of resources and strategies to help those affected cope after a traumatic event.

  • Give yourself time to recover: traumatic events can affect you physically and emotionally. Stress related to traumatic events can cause headaches, intensify stomach and allergy problems, lead to colds and can make chronic health problems more difficult to manage. Let your doctor know if you have been impacted by a traumatic event  
  • Take care of yourself: taking care of your physical wellbeing may have a positive impact on your emotional health. Eat nutritious food, drink lots of water, engage in physical activity and try to get enough rest and sleep
  • Know warning signs: sometimes signs of stress appear right away or sometimes the signs take weeks or months for symptoms to appear. Watch for the following signs: 

- If you think about the traumatic event all the time, if there is a change in your sleeping patterns (either too much sleep or not enough), if there are changes to your appetite, if you avoid people or activities you used to enjoy, using drug or alcohol more often, thoughts about harming yourself or suicide, feelings of hopeless, worry or more frustration than normal 

- If you notice any of these symptoms talk to a friend, family member, counsellor or support person. Additionally, if your emotions are affecting your daily activities or other people are voicing their concerns about how you are feeling, reach out to someone you trust[10]

- Read Dr. Trew’s Mental Health Blog for advice on how to handle post-flood stress

Volunteering Immediately after Flood 

  • If you choose lend a hand with cleaning up make sure you stay safe. Flood water may contain raw sewage or chemicals so it is important to take the right precautions when volunteering to clean up

- Wear proper personal protective equipment. Wear water-proof and puncture-proof boots, rubber gloves and gloves, clothes that can be disposed after the clean-up and face mask. Alberta Health Services recommends wearing a N95 respirator mask if you are cleaning areas that may contain mould, dust or asbestos. You can buy a N95 respirator mask at most hardware stores[11].   

- Wash your hands regularly during clean-up with soap and water

- Cover cuts or other wounds. If your cut is exposed to flood waters wash with soap and clean water, cover with antibacterial ointment and a waterproof band-aid

- If you have not had a tetanus vaccine in the past 5 years and your wound is exposed to contaminated floodwater, should visit your physician for a booster vaccine. Visit your physician within three to five days after your exposure to discuss a possible booster dose of the vaccine  

 

Cash Donation Guide

  • Be cautious when donating money because fraudulent charities will sometimes mimic the names of recognizable organizations, particularly in times of emergency  

  • Don’t give based on emotion or pressure: it is natural to want to help in the event of an emergency but take a few extra minutes to research the organization. 

  • Make sure the organization is a recognized charity or not-for-profit: Search the Canadian Revenue Agency website, visit the Service Alberta website or call 1-877-427-4088 

  • Research: how much of your donation will be used for charitable purposes? What is the mandate or mission of the organization? Can the charity issue a donation receipt? Does the organization seem credible? Read Giving to Charity: Information for Donors in Alberta for more information

  • Here are some charities that accepted donations for during and immediately after the 2013 Flood recovery: 

High River Emergency Relief Fund 

Canadian Red Cross 

United Way of Calgary and Area 

Salvation Army Alberta Flood Relief

 

Ongoing Volunteer Opportunities 

  • Roads, bridges, campgrounds, day use and staging areas, boat launches, trails and other provincial park facilities were badly damaged during the flood. Register at (http://albertaparks.ca/floodvolunteer.aspx) to stay informed about volunteer opportunities in our provincial parks.

  • Habitat for Humanity Southern Alberta ReNewal Program: this program is focused on helping to repair homes damaged in the flood. Visit here for information the Habitat for Humanity Renewal website for more information or sign up to volunteer http://www.habitatsouthernab.ca/index.php?

Other ways to help: 

• Calgary Drop-In Centre: is accepting donations of working computers that will be refurbished and given to Calgarians who have been affected by the devastation of the recent floods

 

 

[8] http://www.calgary.ca/UEP/Water/Pages/Flooding-and-sewer-back-ups/Before-flooding/Know-Your-Flood-Risk.aspx

[9] For full report and recommendations visit: http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$Department/deptdocs.nsf/all/com14481

[10] Recovery After a Disaster or Emergency. Alberta Health Services

[11] http://www.albertahealthservices.ca/Advisories/ne-pha-cleaning-house.pdf