Indoor Air Quality Alert: Winter Storm Floods Southern California

What is the location of the flooding?

A winter storm brought flooding, mudslides, trapped vehicles, and closed streets to Southern California on February 5, 2024 (1)(2). Heavy rainfall began Sunday evening, continued unabated through Monday and Tuesday, and is expected to last through much of the week.

Though there were some areas experiencing high winds and power outages, the greatest early impact appears to be the flooded streets and mudslides.

The storm is primarily occurring in Southern California, specifically in Los Angeles County. Some parts of Los Angeles County have already seen more than nine inches of rain (3).

Which cities or areas are affected by the flooding?

Flooding is occurring throughout all of Southern California. Certain cities are more impacted than others, including:

Various evacuation orders and warnings are in effect for these regions.

What is the current containment status of the flooding?

Containment efforts are underway, but the situation remains challenging. Emergency crews are responding to mudslides, debris flows, and severe flooding. The atmospheric river storm has led to record regional rainfall, making containment a significant ongoing effort.

Are there any evacuation orders or alerts in place?

Evacuation orders are in effect for several areas, including Fryman Canyon in Studio City, Topanga Canyon, Owen Fire and Agua Fire burn areas, La Tuna Canyon in Sun Valley, and parts of Ventura County. Additionally, evacuation warnings have been issued for various unincorporated areas near burn scars. Authorities are urging residents to stay informed and adhere to evacuation orders for their safety.

California declared a state of emergency on February 4 (4).

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 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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