What flood victims should expect when cleaning out their homes

Staying health following effects of New Year Flood

CAPE GIRARDEAU COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - As the floodwaters recede on Thursday afternoon, January 7, people across the Heartland are cleaning up the mess left behind.

But some dangers come with cleaning up that mess. So, what are these hazards and how can you protect yourself and your family from them?

Livestock waste, industrial chemicals, dead animals, gasoline and railroad toxins, the list goes on and on of things that could have been once in your living room.

That's why the Federal Emergency Management Agency says it's important to keep children and pets away from the water so they don't ingest any of it.

For people who have to still wade through dirty water to get to their homes, FEMA recommends immediately showering and washing clothes to get out any toxins that were washed into the water during the flood.

Experts also say any food that comes into contact with floodwaters, even bottled water or canned goods, needs to be thrown out.

If you're drying out your home, Sam Herndon, a home inspector in Cape Girardeau County, said do not wait to start the process.

Herndon said if you don't deal with the problem now, it could cost you later down the road.

"Little bits of pieces of stuff come up through the fence that you wouldn't think would wash up through your house, but it come through the fence," said Cape Girardeau County flood victim Judy Middleton.

Trash still sits in Judy Middleton's front yard and water still fills parts of her home.

Inside, mud covers the floor of the home as fans run to help dry it out.

"It makes you nauseous just seeing where the waterline is," she said.

Middleton said every surface needs to be wiped down before she can call this her home again.

"We have all of that to do and then we have to cut so far up in the wall and spray it, disinfect it," said Middleton.

"I'm going to get calls from people over the next few months now the insurance company wants it inspected before they will re-insure the house and I have to determine if it has been done right," said Herndon.

Herndon said there is no telling what could be lurking inside your home after a flood; and if it's not properly handled the first time, it could cost you.

"Home inspectors will find those and in order to sell the house you will have to deal with it then," he said.

For Middleton, she was able to salvage most of her furniture, but she said in order to be safe, everything else will have to go.

"It is just nasty water, it probably has everything in it, chemicals of all kinds probably,' she said.

Herndon recommends you take photographs to document damages for insurance purposes.

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