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ATTENTION TO THOSE AFFECTED BY THE FLOODING IN ROCKDALE COUNTY - PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING SAFETY INFORMATION: DO NOT RETURN TO YOUR HOME UNTIL LOCAL AUTHORITIES SAY IT IS SAFE. EVEN AFTER FLOODWATERS RECEDE, ROADS AND BRIDGES MAY BE WEAKENED AND COULD COLLAPSE. BUILDINGS MAY BE UNSTABLE, AND DRINKING WATER MAY BE CONTAMINATED. USE COMMON SENSE AND EXERCISE CAUTION. FOR YOUR SAFETY --- BEFORE REENTERING ANY FLOODED HOMES, PLEASE CONTACT YOUR UTILITY COMPANIES TO VERIFY YOUR POWER/GAS HAS BEEN TURNED OFF. Atlanta Gas Light: Walton EMC: Snapping Shoals EMC: Georgia Power: 770-994-1946 770-267-2505 770-786-3484 1-888-660-5890 1-800-GAS-LINE For residents whose home is served by a private well, it is advised not to drink water from that well before having it tested. For assistance with any private well concerns or septic tank issues, contact Rockdale County Environmental Health at 770-278-7340. Building Inspectors with the Rockdale County Department of General Services and Engineering (GS&E) will be in the affected flooded areas assessing the safety of homes and structures. For questions related to permits required: building, electrical, plumbing, etc., for flood affected properties, call 770-278-7103. For stormwater related questions, call the Stormwater Utility at 770- 278-7120 or 770- 278-7122. Rockdale County has Damage Assessment Teams throughout the flooded areas and all staff will have proper identification and may be in marked vehicles. The County has also created a Debris Management Team to advise property owners on proper removal of debris. NOTE: County personnel are not allowed to work on private property. For further information, contact the Rockdale Recycling Center at 770-785-6883 or County Maintenance at 770-278-7200. Families in need of services may contact Rockdale Emergency Relief at 770-922-0165 or the American Red Cross at 1-866-724-3577. Additional assistance and information may be obtained through the Georgia Insurance Commissioner’s, Commissioner John Oxendine, office at 404-651-7902 or 1-800-656-2298, or visit www.inscomm.state.ga.us. For non-emergencies, call the Rockdale Emergency Operations Center at 770-278-8119. For emergencies, call 9-1-1. Also, visit the Rockdale County website at www.rockdalecounty.org and click on “What’s New” for up- to-date information. Septic Systems — What to Do after the Flood Where can I find information on my septic system? Please contact your local health department for additional advice and assistance. For more information on onsite/decentralized wastewater systems, call the National Environmental Services Center at (800) 624-8301 or visit their website at www.nesc.wvu.edu. Do I pump my tank during flooded or saturated drainfield conditions? No! At best, pumping the tank is only a temporary solution. Under worst conditions, pumping it out could cause the tank to try to float out of the ground and may damage the inlet and outlet pipes. The best solution is to plug all drains in the basement and drastically reduce water use in the house. What if my septic system has been used to dispose wastewater from my business (either a home–based or small business)? In addition to raw sewage, small businesses may use their septic system to dispose of wastewater containing chemicals. If your septic system that receives chemicals backs up into a basement or drain field take extra precautions to prevent skin, eye and inhalation contact. The proper clean-up depends of what chemicals are found in the wastewater. Contact your State or EPA for specific clean-up information. What do I do with my septic system after the flood? Once floodwaters have receded, there are several things homeowners should remember: • Do not drink well water until it is tested. Contact your local health department. • Do not use the sewage system until water in the soil absorption field is lower than the water level around the house. • Have your septic tank professionally inspected and serviced if you suspect damage. Signs of damage include settling or an inability to accept water. Most septic tanks are not damaged by flooding since they are below ground and completely covered. However, septic tanks and pump chambers can fill with silt and debris, and must be professionally cleaned. If the soil absorption field is clogged with silt, a new system may have to be installed. • Only trained specialists should clean or repair septic tanks because tanks may contain dangerous gases. Contact your health department for a list of septic system contractors who work in your area. • If sewage has backed up into the basement, clean the area and disinfect the floor. Use a chlorine solution of a half cup of chlorine bleach to each gallon of water to disinfect the area thoroughly. • Pump the septic system as soon as possible after the flood. Be sure to pump both the tank and lift station. This will remove silt and debris that may have washed into the system. Do not pump the tank during flooded or saturated drainfield conditions. At best, pumping the tank is only a temporary solution. Under worst conditions, pumping it out could cause the tank to try to float out of the ground and may damage the inlet and outlet pipes. • Do not compact the soil over the soil absorption field by driving or operating equipment in the area. Saturated soil is especially susceptible to compaction, which can reduce the soil absorption field’s ability to treat wastewater and lead to system failure. • Examine all electrical connections for damage before restoring electricity. • Be sure the septic tank’s manhole cover is secure and that inspection ports have not been blocked or damaged. • Check the vegetation over your septic tank and soil absorption field. Repair erosion damage and sod or reseed areas as necessary to provide turf grass cover. Remember: Whenever the water table is high or your sewage system is threatened by flooding there is a risk that sewage will back up into your home. The only way to prevent this backup is to relieve pressure on the system by using it less. 1. What are some suggestions offered by experts for homeowners with flooded septic systems? 2. Use common sense. If possible, don’t use the system if the soil is saturated and flooded. The wastewater will not be treated and will become a source of pollution. Conserve water as much as possible while the system restores itself and the water table fails. 3. Prevent silt from entering septic systems that have pump chambers. When the pump chambers are flooded, silt has a tendency to settle in the chambers and will clog the drainfield if it is not removed. 4. Do not open the septic tank for pumping while the soil is still saturated. Mud and silt may enter the tank and end up in the drainfield. Furthermore, pumping out a tank that is in saturated soil may cause it to “pop out” of the ground. (Likewise, recently installed systems may “pop out” of the ground more readily than older systems because the soil has not had enough time to settle and compact.) 5. Do not dig into the tank or drainfield area while the soil is still wet or flooded. Try to avoid any work on or around the disposal field with heavy machinery while the soil is still wet. These activities will ruin the soil conductivity. 6. Flooding of the septic tank will have lifted the floating crust of fats and grease in the septic tank. Some of this scum may have floated and/or partially plugged the outlet tee. If the septic system backs up into the house check the tank first for outlet blockage. Clean up any floodwater in the house without dumping it into the sink or toilet and allow enough time for the water to recede. Floodwaters from the house that are passed through or pumped through the septic tank will cause higher flows through the system. This may cause solids to transfer from the septic tank to the drainfield and will cause clogging. 7. Locate any electrical or mechanical devices the system may have that could be flooded to avoid contact with them until they are dry and clean. 8. Aerobic plants, upflow filters, trickling filters, and other media filters have a tendency to clog due to mud and sediment. These systems will need to be washed and raked. Office Water (4606 M) www.epa.gov/safewater EPA 816-F-05-029 September 2005 What to Do After the Flood Drilled, driven or bored wells are best disinfected by a well or pump contractor, because it is difficult for the private owner to thoroughly disinfect these wells. If you suspect that your well may be contaminated, contact your local or state health department or agriculture extension agent for specific advice on disinfecting your well. The suggestions below are intended to supplement flood precautions issued by State and local health authorities. Well and Pump Inspection Flood Conditions at the Well - Swiftly moving flood water can carry large debris that could loosen well hardware, dislodge well construction materials or distort casing. Coarse sediment in the flood waters could erode pump components. If the well is not tightly capped, sediment and flood water could enter the well and contaminate it. Wells that are more than 10 years old or less than 50 feet deep are likely to be contaminated, even if there is no apparent damage. Floods may cause some wells to collapse. Electrical System - After flood waters have receded and the pump and electrical system have dried, do not turn on the equipment until the wiring system has been checked by a qualified electrician, well contractor, or pump contractor. If the pump’s control box was submerged during the flood all electrical components must be dry before electrical service can be restored. Get assistance in turning the pump on from a well or pump contractor. Pump Operation - All pumps and their electrical components can be damaged by sediment and flood water. The pump including the valves and gears will need to be cleaned of silt and sand. If pumps are not cleaned and properly lubricated they can burn out. Get assistance from a well or pump contractor who will be able to clean, repair or maintain different types of pumps. What to Do After the Flood Emergency Disinfection of Wells that have been Flooded Before Disinfection: Check the condition of your well. Make sure there is no exposed or damaged wiring. If you notice any damage, call a professional before the disinfection process. Material Needed: Step 1 - One gallon of non-scented If your water is muddy or cloudy, run the water from an outside spigot with a hose attached household liquid bleach; until the water becomes clear and free of sediments. - Rubber gloves; Step 2 Determine what type of well you have and how to pour the bleach into the well. Some wells - Eye protection; have a sanitary seal with either an air vent or a plug that can be removed (a). If it is a bored or - Old clothes; and dug well, the entire cover can be lifted off to provide a space for pouring the bleach into the - Funnel well (b). Step 3 Take the gallon of bleach and funnel (if needed) and carefully pour the bleach down into the well casing. Step 4 After the bleach has been added, run water from an outside hose into the well casing until you smell chlorine coming from the hose. Then turn off the outside hose. Step 5 Turn on all cold water faucets, inside and outside of house, until the chlorine odor is detected in each faucet, then shut them all off. If you have a water treatment system, switch it to bypass before turning on the indoor faucets. Step 6 Wait 6 to 24 hours before turning the faucets back on. It is important not to drink, cook, bathe or wash with this water during the time period --- it contains high amounts of chlorine. Step 7 Once the waiting period is up, turn on an outside spigot with hose attached and run the water into a safe area where it will not disturb plants, lakes, streams or septic tanks. Run the water until there is no longer a chlorine odor. Turn the water off. Step 8 The system should now be disinfected, and you can now use the water. Step 9 Have your water tested for bacteria 7 to 10 days after disinfection. Sampling and Testing the Well Water Contact the local health department to have well water sampled and tested for contamination. Or, call your state laboratory certification officer to find a certified lab near you. You can get this number from the Safe Drinking Water Hotline (1-800-426-4791). If the health department issues sterile bottles for the private well owner to collect water samples, follow all instructions for the use of these bottles. After the pump is back in operation, the health department should sample and test the water at regular intervals. Concerns and Advisories If in doubt about the well water supply, follow health department drinking and bathing advisories. Remember that there is a danger of electrical shock from any electrical device that has been flooded; consult a certified electrician. Rubber boots and gloves are not adequate protection from electric shock. Well disinfection will not provide protection from pesticides, heavy metals and other types of non-biological contamination. If such contamination is suspected, due to the nearness of these contaminant sources, special treatment is required. Information on home water treatment units (also called point-of-use and point-of-entry units) is available from U.S. EPA by phoning the Safe Drinking Water Hotline (1-800-426-4791). If you observe chemical containers (including barrels and drums) that have moved to your property, call your state or county health department or the Superfund Hotline (1-800-424-9346). For information on long-term water quality conditions in the area, consult the state or county health department. Well owners may have information about the construction, or testing of their well and this information will be helpful to the health department in determining water quality conditions. Septic systems should not be used immediately after floods. Drain fields will not work until underground water has receded. Septic lines may have broken during the flood. OFFICE OF WATER (4606 M) www.epa.gov/safewater EPA 816-F-05-021 AUGUST 2005 After a Flood: Cleanup of Flood Water When returning to your home after a hurricane or flood, be aware that flood water may contain sewage. Protect yourself and your family by following these steps: Inside the Home • Keep children and pets out of the affected area until cleanup has been completed. • Wear rubber boots, rubber gloves, and goggles during cleanup of affected area. • Remove and discard items that cannot be washed and disinfected (such as, mattresses, carpeting, carpet padding, rugs, upholstered furniture, cosmetics, stuffed animals, baby toys, pillows, foam-rubber items, books, wall coverings, and most paper products). • Remove and discard drywall and insulation that has been contaminated with sewage or flood waters. • Thoroughly clean all hard surfaces (such as flooring, concrete, molding, wood and metal furniture, countertops, appliances, sinks, and other plumbing fixtures) with hot water and laundry or dish detergent. • Help the drying process by using fans, air conditioning units, and dehumidifiers. • After completing the cleanup, wash your hands with soap and warm water. Use water that has been boiled for 1 minute (allow the water to cool before washing your hands). o Or you may use water that has been disinfected for personal hygiene use (solution of ⅛ teaspoon [~0.75 milliliters] of household bleach per 1 gallon of water). Let it stand for 30 minutes. If the water is cloudy, use a solution of ¼ teaspoon (~1.5 milliliters) of household bleach per 1 gallon of water. • Wash all clothes worn during the cleanup in hot water and detergent. These clothes should be washed separately from uncontaminated clothes and linens. • Wash clothes contaminated with flood or sewage water in hot water and detergent. It is recommended that a laundromat be used for washing large quantities of clothes and linens until your onsite waste-water system has been professionally inspected and serviced. • Seek immediate medical attention if you become injured or ill. Outside the Home • Keep children and pets out of the affected area until cleanup has been completed. • Wear rubber boots, rubber gloves, and goggles during cleanup of affected area. • Have your onsite waste-water system professionally inspected and serviced if you suspect damage. • Wash all clothes worn during the cleanup in hot water and detergent. These clothes should be washed separately from uncontaminated clothes and linens. • After completing the cleanup, wash your hands with soap and warm water. Use water that has been boiled for 1 minute (allow the water to cool before washing your hands). o Or you may use water that has been disinfected for personal hygiene use (solution of ⅛ teaspoon [~0.75 milliliters] of household bleach per 1 gallon of water). Let it stand for 30 minutes. If the water is cloudy, use solution of ¼ teaspoon (~1.5 milliliters) of household bleach per 1 gallon of water. • Seek immediate medical attention if you become injured or ill. The information in this fact sheet is general in nature and is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional advice. Reentering Your Flooded Home When returning to a home that’s been flooded after natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods, be aware that your house may be contaminated with mold or sewage, which can cause health risks for your family. When You First Reenter Your Home • If you have standing water in your home and can turn off the main power from a dry location, then go ahead and turn off the power, even if it delays cleaning. If you must enter standing water to access the main power switch, then call an electrician to turn it off. NEVER turn power on or off yourself or use an electric tool or appliance while standing in water. • Have an electrician check the house’s electrical system before turning the power on again. • If the house has been closed up for several days, enter briefly to open doors and windows to let the house air out for awhile (at least 30 minutes) before you stay for any length of time. • If your home has been flooded and has been closed up for several days, presume your home has been contaminated with mold. (See Protect Yourself from Mold.) • If your home has been flooded, it also may be contaminated with sewage. (See After a Hurricane or Flood: Cleanup of Flood Water.) Dry Out Your House If flood or storm water has entered your home, dry it out as soon as possible. Follow these steps: • If you have electricity and an electrician has determined that it’s safe to turn it on, use a “wet-dry” shop vacuum (or the vacuum function of a carpet steam cleaner), an electric-powered water transfer pump, or sump pump to remove standing water. If you are operating equipment in wet areas, be sure to wear rubber boots. • If you do not have electricity, or it is not safe to turn it on, you can use a portable generator to power equipment to remove standing water. Note: If you must use a gasoline-powered pump, generator, pressure washer, or any other gasoline- powered tools to clean your home, never operate the gasoline engine inside a home, basement, garage, carport, porch, or other enclosed or partially enclosed structures, even if the windows and doors are open. Such improper use can create dangerously high levels of carbon monoxide and cause carbon monoxide poisoning. • If weather permits, open windows and doors of the house to aid in the drying-out process. • Use fans and dehumidifiers to remove excess moisture. Fans should be placed at a window or door to blow the air outwards rather than inwards, so not to spread the mold. • Have your home heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system checked and cleaned by a maintenance or service professional who is experienced in mold clean-up before you turn it on. If the HVAC system was flooded with water, turning on the mold-contaminated HVAC will spread mold throughout the house. Professional cleaning will kill the mold and prevent later mold growth. When the service determines that your system is clean and if it is safe to do so, you can turn it on and use it to help remove excess moisture from your home. • Prevent water outdoors from reentering your home. For example, rain water from gutters or the roof should drain away from the house; the ground around the house should slope away from the house to keep basements and crawl spaces dry. • Ensure that crawl spaces in basements have proper drainage to limit water seepage. Ventilate to allow the area to dry out. Sanitation and Hygiene After a Flood It is critical for you to remember to practice basic hygiene during the emergency period. Always wash your hands with soap and water that has been boiled or disinfected: • before preparing or eating food; • after toilet use; • after participating in flood cleanup activities; and • after handling articles contaminated with flood water or sewage. Flood waters may contain fecal material from overflowing sewage systems, and agricultural and industrial byproducts. Although skin contact with flood water does not, by itself, pose a serious health risk, there is some risk of disease from eating or drinking anything contaminated with flood water. If you have any open cuts or sores that will be exposed to flood water, keep them as clean as possible by washing well with soap to control infection. If a wound develops redness, swelling, or drainage, seek immediate medical attention. In addition, parents need to help children avoid waterborne illness. Do not allow children to play in flood water areas, wash children's hands frequently (always before meals), and do not allow children to play with flood-water contaminated toys that have not been disinfected. You can disinfect toys using a solution of one cup of bleach in 5 gallons of water. Flooded On-Site Sewage Management Systems: Safety, Sanitation and Clean-Up Concerns Flooding of a private septic system can be a hazardous situation for homeowners. It may lead to a back-up of sewage in the home, contaminated drinking water and lack of sanitation until the system is fixed. While you don't have control over rainfall or flooding in your area, you can prepare for high water problems and respond appropriately to emergency flooding. HOW PROBLEMS OCCUR When flooding or saturated soil conditions persist, a private septic system cannot function properly. Soil treatment systems for wastewater rely on aerobic (with oxygen) regions to reduce the amounts of chemicals and living organisms (viruses, bacteria and protozoa). When the soil is saturated or flooded, those hazardous materials can enter the groundwater and your drinking water supply. PREPARING FOR FLOODING If you are prepared when flooding occurs, your family can be safe and your system should survive. To prepare for a flood you should: • Make sure all septic tanks are full of liquid. The high-water season is not the time to have tanks pumped; empty tanks are buoyant and may "pop" out of the ground during flooding. • Plug floor drains, if necessary, to keep sewage from backing up into the basement. Floodwaters may still enter the basement through cracks and seams, however. DURING A FLOOD • Discontinue use of your private sewage system. Use portable toilets, if possible, or use any large container with a tight-fitting lid for a temporary toilet. Line the container with a plastic bag. After each use, add chlorine bleach or disinfectant to stop odor and kill germs. If necessary, bury wastes on high ground far away from your well. • Remember that a well may become contaminated during a flood. Therefore, DO NOT DRINK THE WATER. Drink bottled water, or disinfect water before drinking. Contact your local health department for disinfection instructions. • Do not bathe or swim in floodwater. It may contain harmful organisms. • Shut off power to a sewage lift pump if you have one in the house or in a pump chamber (mound, in-ground pressure, at- grade systems). AFTER THE FLOOD • Do not use the sewage system until water in the disposal field is lower than the water level around the house. • If you suspect damage to your septic tank, have it professionally inspected and serviced. Signs of damage include settling or inability to accept water. Most septic tanks are not damaged by a flood since they are below ground and completely covered. However, sometimes septic tanks or pump chambers become filled with silt and debris, and must be professionally cleaned. If drain lines in the absorption field are filled with silt, a new system may have to be installed in new trenches. Because septic tanks may contain dangerous gases, only trained specialists should clean or repair them. Georgia law requires certified septic contractors for any repairs to septic systems. • Discard any items that are damaged by contaminated water and cannot be steam cleaned or adequately cleaned and disinfected. • Do not pump water out of basements too quickly. Exterior water pressure could collapse the walls. • If sewage has backed up into the basement, clean the area and disinfect the floor with a chlorine solution of one-half cup of chlorine bleach to 1 gallon of water. • Do not drink the water until it has been tested and is safe.
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