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McLean County Cautions Safety During And After Flood Cleanup

Flooded basement
Sarah Sciba
A basement flooded with 4 inches of water in the Founders Grove neighborhood of Bloomington.

Flooding in your basement can create all kinds of health hazards.

Hundreds of Bloomington-Normal residents, business owners and volunteers have been removing floodwater and raw sewage that have contaminated their home or workplace following heavy rains in late June.

McLean County Health Department Environmental Health Director Tom Anderson said flooded out areas can still be hazardous weeks after they are cleaned up.

“The major concern now after the actual physical flooding is to make sure the flooded areas are properly cleaned and thoroughly dried to prevent mold growth,” Anderson said.

Tom Anderson
McLean County Health Department
Tom Anderson

The CDC says exposure to large amounts of mold can lead to severe reactions.

“People with compromised immunities, respiratory ailments need to be cautious of controlling any mold growth,” Anderson said, adding that anyone who is experiencing changes in their health after being exposed to the sewage should call their health care provider.

Bloomington-Normal hospitals and health care centers say they have not had any patients experiencing health problems related to the recent flooding.

Anderson said cleanup work should be done by professional restoration crews, especially if it involves sewage, but he said cost is a barrier for some.

MCHD regulates rural septic systems, but Anderson said the county heard no reports of flooded septic system backups during the recent storms.

Some parts of McLean County received close to 11 inches of rain over a three-day period in June, in what weather experts termed a 100-year event.

Anderson said rural residents who rely on private water wells that have flooded need to contact a water-well contractor to disinfect the well. Then they can call MCHD to get a water test kit for $20. Anderson said until the water is deemed safe to drink, it can be boiled for five minutes. Residents are also encouraged to buy bottled water in the interim.

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