Indoor Air Quality Alert: Nova Scotia Flooding

What is the location of the flooding?

A flooding event occurred in the province of Nova Scotia, Canada on July 22, 2023 (1)(2)(3). It was the heaviest rain to affect the region in 50 years, inundating the province with three months’ worth of rain in 24 hours.

The flooding affected various regions, including East and West Hants, Halifax Regional Municipality, Lunenburg, and Queens counties. The provincial capital, Halifax, was heavily impacted.

Which cities or areas are affected by the flooding?

The cities, towns, and regions directly impacted by the flooding include:

  • Halifax Regional Municipality
  • East Hants
  • West Hants
  • Lunenburg
  • Queens

What is the current containment status of the flooding?

As of July 24, communities are cleaning up in the aftermath of the flooding. Flood containment efforts are underway.

Water levels are gradually receding in some impacted areas, but transportation challenges and damaged infrastructure remain significant concerns. Emergency crews are working to repair roads, bridges, and other critical infrastructure. A temporary bridge is being constructed to help nearly 400 isolated individuals return to their destinations. Nova Scotia Power has made progress in restoring electricity to affected areas. However, the extent of the damage is described as unimaginable, and the recovery process is expected to be lengthy.

Are there any evacuation orders or alerts in place?

A province-wide state of emergency has been declared in Nova Scotia and is set to last until August 5. Evacuation orders were issued for the Halifax area and other regions (4).

Some communities were ordered to evacuate due to concerns about a dam breach near the St. Croix River system. As of July 24, up to 600 people were still under evacuation orders, and residents were urged to shelter in place until authorities deemed it safe to return home.

For some time, more than 80,000 people were without power.

The search continued for four people, including two children, who were missing after their vehicles were submerged in the floodwaters.

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 maskto 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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