Nearly two weeks after Hurricane Florence hit South Carolina, Gov. Henry McMaster said state officials are still getting ready for flooding in some areas.
“Now we’re in the recovery for part of the state,” he told reporters after an unrelated bill-signing ceremony on Thursday. “And still preparing for the flood in Georgetown and down around Winyah Bay and Socastee and where the water all goes out into the ocean.”
McMaster said the recovery in hard-hit regions will take a while. “We got a great team. We got the full federal complement,” he said. “Everyone is activated and alert. We’ll work through it. It’s going to take some time.”
Forecasts predicted flooding in Florence would be less than 2 feet, much lower than what occurred further up the Waccamaw River at Conway. The National Weather Service said the river began moving more slowly this week, helping to ease the water rise.
The South Carolina Emergency Management Division (SCEMD) has said more than 2,000 homes were damaged so far and more than 11,000 residents by flooding.
SCEMD and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) recommend following the guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Environmental Protection Agency EPA) when cleaning mold, mucking out previously flooded homes and preventing mosquito bites. Here are a few tips from the CDC and the EPA:
When Cleaning Wet or Moldy Items after a Severe Weather Event, consider the following:
- When your home is safe to enter, dry out your home as quickly as possible to minimize mold problems and perhaps even prevent the growth of mold at all.
- Water damage specialists or mold remediation companies have experience with cleanups of flooded homes and can provide you the peace of mind of knowing mold problems will be properly taken care of. At a minimum, a maintenance or service professional that is experienced in mold clean up should check and clean your home heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) system before you turn it on. If the HVAC system was flooded with water, turning on the system may spread mold throughout the house.
- Consulting a Professional Mold Remediation company (check the Yellow Pages under Mold or Water Damage Restoration). Verify a company’s general contractor license by visiting the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation’s website.
- Or finding volunteer organizations in your area that may provide mold remediation services for victims visiting the South Carolina Emergency Management Division’s website at scemd.org
- Calling the SCDHEC mold hotline established for residents who have questions about mold: 888-815-3509or local: 803-898-9387.
Because there are no state or federal laws, regulations, or standards for mold or indoor air quality, DHEC cannot test, monitor or inspect for mold or indoor air quality in homes or public buildings.
When cleaning out, or mucking, previously flooded homes:
- Wear goggles, gloves and sturdy shoes to prevent falls from slipping.
- Keep children and pets out of the affected area until clean-up is complete.
- Remove and discard items that cannot be washed or disinfected.
- Most common household cleaning supplies can be used. Follow the directions listed on the label.
- Thoroughly clean all hard surfaces that could have come into contact with flood waters.
- Wash clothing and linens contaminated with flood waters in hot water and detergent.
- Help the drying process by using fans, air conditioning and dehumidifiers.
Residents can take the following steps now to prevent mosquito bites:
- Eliminate standing water in rain gutters, old tires, buckets, plastic covers, toys, or any other container where mosquitoes can breed.
- Keep mosquitoes away from exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and socks as weather permits.
- Tuck shirts into pants and pants into socks to cover gaps in your clothing where mosquitoes can get to your skin.
- Stay indoors when possible, especially if there is a mosquito-borne disease warning in effect.
- Use EPA-registered mosquito repellents when necessary and follow label directions and precautions closely.