For Greater Cincinnati flood victims, Red Cross cleanup kits carry more than just supplies

Flood cleanup kits carry more than just supplies
Posted at 1:04 AM, Mar 03, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-03 01:10:50-05

CINCINNATI -- Kristi Bailey was happy to be standing on dry ground Friday. By the evening, the Ohio River had gone below flood level. 

It left behind mud, and more, in her East Side neighborhood.

"There's a weird smell coming from the basement because all the drainage and the river water and sewer water backing up," Bailey said.

The American Red Cross handed out supply kits Friday, to help neighbors with the dirty task ahead.

For many people, the kits carried more than just supplies: they brought a needed boost of hope. 

RELATED: More than 1,000 structures impacted by flood

Bailey considered herself lucky considering how badly others were flooded.

Tracy Siekbert has lived in the California neighborhood for 56 years. She's dealt with flooding before, but it's never gotten easier. 

She went to sleep late one night before the water rose; when she awake six hours later, her house was surrounded, and her husband's car was submerged.

"I went on my porch with the water around my house, I thought I had a boathouse," she said.

A sewage backup, two-and-a-half feet deep, soaked Andrew Scheetz' East End basement. He picked up one of the Red Cross' 5-gallon buckets, filled with bleach, cleanser, dust masks, heavy-duty gloves, scrub brushes, a long-handled sink brush, sponges, a mop and garbage bags.

Those tools will help Scheetz disinfect his basement so mold and bacteria can't fester. 

"Really, it's just a matter of picking up the pieces," he said.

The mental help is just as important as the physical help, according to Susan Routh, the Red Cross' disaster mental health team leader. People can feel overwhelmed; they've lost their belongings and don't know where to go. 

But things will get better as people clean up and find a support system, she said.

"Make sure that they get some rest and they eat," Routh said, "and they give hugs to people and they get hugs."

Flood cleanup kits will be available for pickup again on Saturday, March 3, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Ebersole Recreation Center, 5701 Kellogg Ave. Hamilton County Emergency Management Agency's website has more information on flood cleanup safety.

Other cleanup tips from the Red Cross

  • Take photos of each room with flood damage for insurance and damage assessment purposes.
  • If your home was flooded, assume it’s contaminated with mold. Mold increases health risks for those with asthma, allergies or other breathing conditions.
  • To help prevent mold, remove and throw away items that cannot be washed and disinfected: mattresses, carpeting, carpet padding, upholstered furniture, cosmetics, stuffed animals, baby toys, pillows, foam-rubber items, books, wall coverings, and most paper products.
  • Remove all drywall and insulation that has been in contact with flood waters or sewage.
  • Help the drying process by using fans, air conditioning units and dehumidifiers.
  • During cleanup, wear protective clothing, including rubber gloves and boots, goggles or safety glasses, and a respirator if necessary.
  • Some cleaning solutions can cause toxic fumes and other hazards if mixed together. If you smell a strong odor or your eyes water from the fumes or mixed chemicals, open a window and get out of your home.
  • Materials such as cleaning products, paint, batteries, contaminated fuel and damaged fuel containers are hazardous. Check with local authorities for assistance with disposal to avoid risk.
  • Clean hard surfaces (such as flooring, countertops and appliances) thoroughly with hot water and soap or a detergent. After completion of cleanup, wash your hands with soap and clean water.
  • Make sure your food and water are safe. Discard items that may have come in contact with floodwater, including canned goods, water bottles, plastic utensils and baby bottle nipples. When in doubt, throw it out.
  • Understand that recovery takes time. Focus on the positive and have patience. Others will have similar frustrations. Try to return to as many personal and family routines as possible.