Submitted by Thurston County Public Health and Social Services
Thurston County Public Health and Social Services, Environmental Health is providing tips for what to do during and after a flooding event to keep you and your home safe.
What to do during a flood
- Do not try to walk or drive through flooded areas. Water can be deeper than it appears, and water levels rise quickly. Follow official emergency evacuation routes. If your car stalls in floodwater, get out quickly and move to higher ground.
- Stay away from moving water; moving water six inches deep can sweep you off your feet. Cars are easily swept away in just two feet of water.
- Stay away from disaster areas unless authorities ask for volunteers.
- Stay away from downed power lines.
- If your home is flooded, turn the utilities off until emergency officials tell you it is safe to turn them on. Do not pump the basement out until floodwater recedes. Avoid weakened floors, walls, and rooftops.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and clean water if you come in contact with floodwaters.
What to do after a flood
- Wear gloves and boots when cleaning up.
- Open all doors and windows. Use fans if possible, to air out the building.
- Wash all clothes and linens in hot water.
- Discard mattresses and stuffed furniture. They can’t be adequately cleaned.
- Wash dirt and mud from walls, counters and hard surfaced floors with soap and water. Disinfect by wiping surfaces with a solution of one cup bleach per gallon of water.
- Discard all food that has come into contact with floodwater. Canned food is alright, but thoroughly wash the can before opening.
- If your well is flooded, your tap water is probably unsafe. If you have public water, the health department will let you know—through radio and television—if your water is not safe to drink. Until your water is safe, use clean bottled water.
- Learn how to purify water. If you have a well, learn how to decontaminate it.
- Do not use your septic system when water is standing on the ground around it. The ground below will not absorb water from sinks or toilets. When the soil has dried, it is probably safe to again use your septic system. To be sure, contact your local health department.
- When floodwaters have receded, watch out for weakened road surfaces.
The Washington State Department of Health also has helpful information on its website at: DOH Floods
Thurston County Emergency Management’s Emergency Coordination Center is activated. You can reach the call center at 360-867-2800. Staff are coordinating with the American Red Cross to establish shelter locations, as needed.
Thurston Community Alert (TC Alert) is the county’s official emergency alert system and can help keep you informed of hazardous conditions in your area, including specific hazards that require action – such as a boil water notice or evacuation order. You can learn more and sign up for TC Alert today. Those who sign up for TC Alert have the option to receive information on wireless device, by email, by landline telephone, or by all three.
Residents can receive specific notifications based on where they live, or what types of information they are interested in. Currently, subscribers can opt-in to river notifications as well as local alerts from public safety agencies warning of life-threatening events and emergencies.
Call Thurston County Public Works at (360) 867-2300 to report flooded roads during regular business hours. After hours, weekend and holiday road reports should be directed to TCOMM Dispatch at (360) 704-2740. Residents are urged to only use 9-1-1 for life-threatening emergencies. River conditions can change rapidly, so residents should stay tuned to the National Weather Service website, NOAA weather radio, local news, and the Thurston County website for updates.
You can visit the county’s Flood Information webpage to find sandbag locations, road updates and traffic impacts, monitor river levels, and sign up for Thurston Community Alert. Sandbags can act as a barrier to divert moving water around, instead of through, buildings. Sandbag construction does not guarantee a water-tight seal but is satisfactory for use in most situations.