Indoor Air Quality Alert: East Coast Flooding

What is the location of the flooding?

In the wake of Tropical Storm Ophelia, flooding has impacted multiple U.S. states as of September 25, 2023 (1)(2)(3).

Flooding primarily affected the mid-Atlantic region of the United States, spanning from Long Island, New York to North Carolina.

By Monday morning, September 25, the storm had been downgraded to a post-tropical storm cyclone. Rain was centered on eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York City, and southern New England.

Which cities or areas are affected by the flooding?

States most impacted by flooding include New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and parts of Pennsylvania.

  • New York City, New York: New York City issued a travel advisory due to heavy rainfall and potential flooding. Basement apartments in flood-prone areas were advised to prepare for possible evacuation.
  • Atlantic City, New Jersey: A coastal flood warning was issued for communities in Atlantic City, where several roads were closed due to flooding.
  • Washington, North Carolina: Floodwaters caused street flooding and affected the city's boardwalk area. Residents were warned to avoid the downtown area due to storm surge flooding.
  • New Bern, North Carolina: Roads were flooded, and water crept inland as levels rose in the downtown area.
  • Bethany Beach, Delaware: Coastal flooding closed several roads in this seaside community.
  • Sea Isle City, New Jersey: Flooding caused knee-deep water at an intersection in the coastal city.
  • Annapolis, Maryland: Residents in City Dock are dealing with flood waters after the weekend’s downpour (4).
  • Richmond, Virginia: The storm struck Richmond with potential heavy rainfall and flooding.
  • Chesapeake Bay Area: Coastal flooding was a threat in portions of the Chesapeake Bay.

What is the current containment status of the flooding?

Tropical Storm Ophelia has weakened to a post-tropical cyclone, but it still poses a risk of flooding and heavy rainfall in the Mid-Atlantic region. Efforts to contain and mitigate the flooding are ongoing, and emergency management officials anticipate the water levels to go down over the course of a few hours.

Are there any evacuation orders or alerts in place?

Several evacuation orders and alerts have been issued due to the flooding caused by Tropical Storm Ophelia. These include:

  • New York City: A travel advisory was issued, and residents in flood-prone areas were advised to prepare to move to higher ground and avoid driving on flooded streets or entering flooded subway stations.
  • North Carolina, Maryland, and Virginia: States of emergency were declared in three mid-Atlantic states in advance of the flooding (5,6,7).
  • North Carolina, Delaware, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey: Thousands of homes and businesses lost power as a result of the storm.

How can I protect myself from mold after flooding?

It’s important to take steps to prevent mold after a flood.

  • Before entering a flooded area, make sure it is safe and free from electrical hazards or structural damage.
  • Use protective gear: wear gloves, goggles, and a KN95/FFP2 mask to minimize exposure to mold spores.
  • If there is still standing water, remove it as quickly as possible. Use pumps, wet-dry vacuums, or buckets to extract the water.
  • Open windows and doors to facilitate air circulation and use fans, dehumidifiers, and HVAC systems to help dry the space. This step is crucial within the first 24-48 hours after flooding to prevent mold growth.
  • Remove and discard any items that have been severely damaged by floodwater and cannot be thoroughly cleaned and dried. This includes carpets, upholstered furniture, mattresses, and any other porous materials.
  • Thoroughly clean all hard surfaces with a detergent or cleaner suitable for mold remediation. Use a solution of 1.5 cups of bleach mixed with one gallon of water to disinfect nonporous surfaces. Never mix bleach with ammonia or other cleaning products, as the fumes are toxic.
  • Maintain an indoor relative humidity (RH) of 35-50%. High humidity promotes mold growth, so consider using dehumidifiers in damp areas.
  • Run a high-performance air purifier for mold, both during and after the mold removal work.
  • If the flooding and mold damage are extensive, consider contacting professionals specializing in mold remediation to ensure proper cleanup and restoration.

Remember, mold can pose health risks, so it's important to take these steps promptly and thoroughly. If you experience persistent mold-related health issues or have concerns about extensive mold growth, consult with a medical professional or a mold remediation specialist.

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