Keeping You Safe: What's in those nasty floodwaters

By Stefano DiPietrantonio – bio |email

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - For the second time in the span of a week, heavy rains have wreaked havoc in parts of Covington, KY. Some communities were still reeling from flash flooding last Tuesday.

There is a familiar smell back in the air. Some might say you can smell the frustration, but for those people living in low-lying areas in Covington, it is the stench of sewer lines that have backed-up and spilled into their basements again.

Families have been warned about their children playing around contaminated water.

"E-coli, viruses, parasites, chemicals that are run-off from other sources that are in there," said Steve Divine, Director of Environmental Health and Safety at the Northern Kentucky Health Department. "Toilet paper and waste matter there as well as all the bacteria that could go along with it."

Some kids said they weren't worried about the contaminated water.

"No, I'm on too concerned about it, no," said Jessy McCalister, who spent the afternoon on his bicycle, waist-deep in the raw sewage.

No one should be playing in flood water said Divine.

"You're being exposed to things in there that you're flushing down your toilet potentially," Divine said.

Symptoms can appear within 2 to 4 days.

"If it's something that you're exposed to more from a chemical standpoint, you might have a skin reaction sooner than that," Divine added.

If you ingest any of it, you might need to see a doctor.

"It could have cryptus sporidium in it," Divine said. "Which is another bacteria that could give you some serious gastro-enteritis-type of illnesses."

If you have a garden that was underwater, Divine said, chances are your plants are fine, but get rid of all the vegetables.

"Sewage and bacteria and those types of things, you can think of that as a good fertilizer with the new fruit or the new vegetable," Divine said. "You don't want to eat anything that was exposed to it."

Divine also said just because you can't see it, doesn't mean you're not carrying around something harmful, especially kids who've been exposed.

"They and you as well are washing your hands, washing off your legs and feet," he said. "Anything that was exposed to it, laundering your clothes in hot water, running them through the dryer like your normally would."

Divine said the Fire Department has done an outstanding job, and has come and pumped the water out of a lot of folk's basements over the past several days. Other people have paid private companies to disinfect their homes, especially flooded basements.

Click here to go directly to the Northern Kentucky Health Department's page, so you can see plenty of other ways you need to keep yourself safe after the floodwaters go down.

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