News Service

6-26-98

Contact: Kevin Brown, News Service, at (515) 294-8986

TIPS FOR FLOOD-RELATED NEWS AND FEATURE IDEAS FROM ISU

AMES, Iowa -- Iowa State University experts are available to the media as sources for stories or reports that explore the Floods of '98. For more information, or to find other sources, contact Kevin Brown, News Service, (515) 294- 8986.

FEDERAL AID TO DIASTER COUNTIES -- HOW DOES IT WORK?

POOR DRAINAGE CAUSE OF MOST BASEMENT FLOODING

No matter where your house is located, your basement can flood during heavy rainfalls if drainage is poor, warns Tom Greiner, Iowa State University extension agricultural engineer. Suggestions include improving surface grading around the house to installing roof gutters and downspouts. Contact Greiner at (515) 294-6360.

HOW TO REBUILD FOLLOWING FLOOD DAMAGE

FLOODED HOMES MAY HAVE BOOBY TRAPS

Floodwaters can turn a home or business into a gigantic live wire, says Tom Greiner, Iowa State University extension agricultural engineer. Problems might include shorted out electrical systems, leaking gas lines, loose ceilings, and slippery, mud-covered stairs. Call him at (515) 294-6360

WET ELECTRIC UNITS

An electrician or competent serviceperson can provide the special care that wet wiring and flooded appliances need. Flooded heating systems must be cleaned before reuse. But, there also are several things homeowners can do before calling in the professionals. Contact Tom Greiner, extension agricultural engineer, (515) 294-6360.

FOOD AND FLOODS

Floodwaters can carry bacteria and other substances that can contaminate any food -- even food that has been sealed in a freezer. There are several simple steps that people can follow to avoid flood-contaminated food. Contact Patricia Redlinger, extension food science specialist, (515) 294-1381. Also, Answer Line, 1-800-262-3804, can provide information on flood clean up.

HOUSEHOLD ITEMS

Many flooded household items (bedding, books and furniture) can be saved, but many other items (mattresses) are usually worthless after getting soaked. Wet walls, woodwork and wood floors also can be cleaned-up and salvaged. Contact Lois Warme, extension art and design specialist, (515) 294- 8708.

CLEAN BY THE LIGHT

Be sure to clean a flooded home by the light of a safe lamp or ceiling fixture. After taking specific safety precautions, homeowners can clean and dry light bulbs, switches and sockets. All appliances should be serviced and cleaned before using. Contact Tom Greiner, extension agricultural engineer, (515) 294-6360.

CLOTHING

Mildew is the last thing you want in your clothes -- it can damage fibers -- so wash soaked items as soon as possible. Wash wet or soiled clothes as you would dirty baby diapers -- soak, wash with hot water and bleach, and dry completely to avoid mildew. Contact Janis Stone, extension textiles and clothing specialist, (515) 294-6712.

RATS MOVE TO HIGHER GROUND

People aren't the only ones forced from their homes by rising floodwaters. Rats living along the river also are seeking shelter on higher ground. Jim Pease, extension wildlife specialist, advises poisoning flood-displaced rats, which can bring disease and other problems into homes. Contact Pease at (515) 294-7429.

WHEN THE SNAKES COME MARCHING IN

During floods, non-poisonous snakes have been known to get into homes through sump pumps and drains. To discourage such visits, put a fine wire mesh over drains. If snakes get into a home, they can easily be trapped in damp burlap bags, to which they are naturally attracted. Contact Jim Pease, extension wildlife specialist, (515) 294-7429.

LIVESTOCK

Flooded fields and farm buildings can pose dangers for all forms of livestock. Iowa State veterinarians can provide advice about how to care for livestock on a flooded farm. Contact Nolan Hartwig or Jim McKean, extension service veterinarians, (515) 294-8790.

SOGGY PARKS

Public parks, often built in floodplains, need some downtime after flooding, says Julia Badenhope, extension specialist in landscape architecture. For at least a week after flooding, all forms of traffic should be cut down in public parks because saturated ground could become compacted, which is dangerous for trees. Bike trails also need a break -- wet trails are easily damaged and take a long time to repair. Contact Badenhope at (515) 294-3007.

WILL MY TREES SURVIVE THE FLOOD?

How long can trees survive under flooded conditions? Jeff Iles, ISU extension horticulturist, says the outlook for flood-sensitive trees is good if floodwaters recede in seven days or less. If floodwaters cover sensitive trees for longer periods of time, injury symptoms, such as leaf chlorosis (yellowing), downward curling of leaves, leaf drop and branch dieback, can occur. In extreme cases, entire trees may die. Contact Iles at (515) 294-0029.

LAWNS NEED ATTENTION AFTER FLOODWATERS SUBSIDE

Your turfgrass may have been damaged by erosion, soil deposits and debris or simply by submersion. The degree of injury from floodwaters depends on the turfgrass species, the duration of flooding, the condition of your lawn prior to flooding, depth of water and other factors. Damaged areas will need to be repaired and seeded or sodded this fall. Contact Jeff Iles, extension horticulturist, (515) 294-0029.

FLOODED GARDEN PRODUCE

Callers to ISU Extension's Hortline want to know: Is their garden produce safe to eat after suffering flood damage? Plants and produce should be discarded if garden areas were flooded by sewer backup. If the damage is from floodwaters or standing rainwater, the produce is safe to eat if it's firm, unblemished and the plant remains healthy and survives. Contact Richard Jauron, extension horticulturist, (515) 294- 1871.

ADVICE TO FLOODED BUSINESSES

Flooded business owners will have a lot of work to do to get back in business. The Iowa State University Extension Service can help with these questions. See their web site at http://www.exnet.iastate.edu/Pages/communications/latest_news .html. The Department representative is Elaine Edwards, (515) 294-5168. (Additional flood-related articles, tips and link sites are also available at this web site).

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Revised 6/26/98