Vegas Flooding Prompts State of Emergency

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

Flood waters receded Wednesday and residents began the messy job of cleaning up after intense storms swamped some neighborhoods, knocking out power to thousands and leaving motorists stranded atop their cars.

The deluge Tuesday caught many by surprise, as it dumped 3 inches of rain in 90 minutes, severely flooding the city’s northwest section. Casinos along the Las Vegas Strip saw only light rainfall.

“There was so much water, we couldn’t see the sidewalks,” said Ann Friary, owner of Northshore Learning Tree, a day care center.

Rushing water closed the southbound lanes of U.S. 95 and dime-sized hail pelted neighborhoods east of Las Vegas. No injuries were reported, but authorities said they received hundreds of emergency calls and saved dozens of people.

At least two motorists had to be rescued from the tops of their cars by a helicopter. Four firefighters were rescued from a fire engine that became trapped by raging floodwaters.

At the height of the storms, some 3,000 customers briefly lost power, Nevada Power said, although electricity was restored to all but about 300 within a few hours.

Mayor Oscar Goodman declared a local state of emergency and urged people to stay at home and keep off the roads.

The city’s last state of emergency was declared after high water inundated the Strip in July 1999. That storm killed two and caused more than $20 million in property damage.

More thunderstorms were in the forecast for Wednesday, the National Weather Service, said but the most severe storms were expected to remain just outside the area.

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Some tips to keep you safe while cleaning up your home and yard

  • The most likely diseases to occur due to flooding are diarrheal and gastrointestinal diseases caused by contaminated water and vector-borne diseases due to increased mosquito breeding habitats.

  • There is also an increased risk of tetanus due to flood-related injuries and exposure to flood water. Increases in respiratory diseases associated with growth of molds and fungi also have occurred after flooding.

  • Gastrointestinal diseases may be caused by a variety of microorganisms associated with drinking contaminated water, eating contaminated food or failure to wash hands properly after exposure to flood waters.

  • To prevent gastrointestinal diseases:
    • Always wash hands thoroughly with soap and clean water after they have been in contact with flood waters. If possible, gloves should be worn, especially when cleaning up after the flood.

    • Make sure water is safe before drinking, washing dishes, brushing teeth, making ice or preparing food. Use bottled water or treat the water. The following methods should be used to make water safe for use.

    • Bring water to a rolling boil water and continue to boil for at least 1 minute, or

    • Treat water with chlorine or iodine tablets.

    • Ensure food items are safe.

    • A freezer will keep foods safe for 24 to 48 hours after electricity is discontinued if the door remains closed. Food should be discarded if electricity remains off longer than 48 hours or if there is doubt about how long the foods may have been above 40o F.

    • Dry ice can be used if electrical power will be cut off. A 50-pound block of dry ice will keep food safe for approximately 2 days in an 18-cubic foot freezer.

    • Foods in paper, cardboard or any container which has been opened should be discarded after contact with floodwaters.

    • Canned foods can be used if the cans are undamaged. Cans should be washed in a bleach solution (1/4 cup bleach in 1 gallon of water) for at least one minute and then dried.

    • Home-canned items should generally be discarded since it is difficult to determine if the seal has been broken. If it is certain that water has not reached the jar top, the food may be used after the jar is sanitized.

    • Fruits that can be peeled may be eaten if they are first sanitized with the bleach solution described above. These fruits should be peeled and cooked before eating; they should not be eaten raw. Root and garden vegetables should be discarded.

    "When in doubt, throw it out."

  • Injuries are likely to occur during floods, here are some tips to prevent injuries:
    • Do not swim or wade in floodwaters.
    • Do not attempt to cross swift-flowing water or water of unknown depth, even in a vehicle.
    • Avoid downed power lines.
    • Do not return to your home or business until authorities give approval.
    • Be wary of stray and wild animals displaced by the flood.
    • Wear protective gear such as boots, gloves and helmets when entering a recently flooded building.
    • Use battery-powered flashlights or lanterns when returning to your home. To avoid explosions from undetected gases, do not use anything with an open flame. If you notice a gas-like smell, vacate the building and contact your local utility company.
    • Do not operate electrical equipment when standing in water.

    "When in doubt, seek an expert."

    Source: http://www.ehs.health.state.nd.us/ndhd/prevent/disease/epi/jan97/jan97.htm (North Dakota Epidemiology Report Web Site)


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