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Pierce Egerton
Pierce Egerton
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Hurricane Irene — Remembering Floyd & Keeping Water Safe In Storm and Flood Conditions

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Forecasters are concerned that Hurricane Irene could present a hundred-year flooding event. For those of us in North Carolina, such dire warnings evoke the haunting memory of weeks of disastrous flooding in the wake of Hurricane Floyd in 1999.

Floyd was a major disaster for the state. Although the wind force was not as great as many hurricanes that hit North Carolina, the storm dumped torrential rains on a coastal plain already saturated by a previous hurricane. After Floyd, almost every river basin in eastern North Carolina exceeded 500-year flood levels. A major issue for residents of the stricken area was clean water.

Floyd took the lives of 35 North Carolinians. Most from flood-related causes. Those who remember Floyd are praying that Irene does not wreak similar havoc on anyone. However, Floyd serves as a cautionary reminder about how important it is to have a safe supply of fresh water in the aftermath of a major storm.

Here is advice from the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and how to keep your water safe during a hurricane and through post-storm flood conditions.

Follow these steps to keep your WATER SAFE during — and after — flood conditions.

  • Use bottled water that has not been exposed to flood waters if it is available.

  • If you don’t have bottled water, you should boil water to make it safe. Boiling water will kill most types of disease-causing organisms that may be present.

    • If the water is cloudy, filter it through clean cloths or allow it to settle, and draw off the clear water for boiling.
    • Boil the water for one minute, let it cool, and store it in clean containers with covers.
  • If you can’t boil water, you can disinfect it using household bleach. Bleach will kill some, but not all, types of disease-causing organisms that may be in the water.

    • If the water is cloudy, filter it through clean cloths or allow it to settle, and draw off the clear water for disinfection.
    • Add 1/8 teaspoon (or 8 drops) of regular, unscented, liquid household bleach per each gallon of water. Stir it well and let it stand for at least 30 minutes before you use it.
    • Store disinfected water in clean containers with covers.
  • If you have a well that has been flooded, the water should be tested and disinfected after flood waters recede. If you suspect that your well may be contaminated, contact your local or state health department or agriculture extension agent for specific advice.