Flooding Recovery and Response: What you need to know

Flooding has taken a toll on the state, and although the waters are receding, the work is just beginning.  Here is some important information to help you in the days ahead.

WHAT TO DO IF YOUR HOME IS FLOODED 

(Information provided by the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency)

If you know your home or business has flooded, it is crucial that you wait to re-enter until officials confirm there are no structural, electrical hazards or biohazards and it is safe to return.

Even after your area is deemed safe, continue to use extreme caution and make sure the main electrical switch to your home is off before you enter the structure.

Next, it’s important that you immediately contact your insurance company and take pictures to document the damage.

If you experienced flooding, file an insurance claim as soon as possible. If you have an insurance-related question, call your agent or call the Mississippi Insurance Department at 1-800-562-2957 or email consumer@mid.ms.gov

Once your claim is filed, it’s time to begin the cleanup stage. In the case of flooding, it’s particularly critical that cleanup occurs as soon as possible.  Mildew and mold can develop within 24-48 hours of water exposure.

When cleaning, use protective equipment such as gloves and a mask. You’ll also want to make sure the working area is well ventilated by opening all doors and windows.

If the damage to your home following a flood event is extensive, the cleanup process can easily become an overwhelming task, but these steps will help make the daunting task feel more achievable:

  • Remove standing water from floors, carpets, and hard surfaces.
  • Remove/discard all soaked items such as furniture, rugs, bedding, and curtains that can’t be cleaned, dried, or already contain mold — when in doubt, throw it out.
  • Use fans and dehumidifiers to remove moisture. If mold has started to grow, DO NOT use a fan, because it will spread the mold.
  • Clean walls, hard-surfaced floors, and other household surfaces with a mixture of soap and water then dry right away.
  • Disinfect all surfaces with a water and bleach solution (1 cup bleach to 5 gallons of water) and DO NOT mix chemicals.

Flooding can contaminate the water supply, so be sure to take heed of all boil water advisories. For more information, visit the Mississippi State Department of Health’s website.

If you decide the cleanup job may be too difficult or dangerous for you then it may be best to get help from an experienced and qualified professional to inspect, repair and restore the damaged parts of your home.

ELECTRICITY

Entergy Mississippi says they are continuing to focus on maintaining safety for customers. Crews are inspecting equipment and meters impacted by the flood in hopes of restoring customers who can take service. Entergy predicts this will take several days to complete.

If a house has taken on floodwaters, a city inspection may be required prior to re-establishing service. The City of Jackson is requiring a city inspection for homes with 18 inches or more water in the home before service can be restored. Homes with less than 18 inches will be restored if someone is home. If no one is home the meter or an outside breaker will be turned off and customers can turn the breaker on when returning home.

Floodwaters are beginning to threaten other towns along the Pearl River, and we may have to begin disconnecting electrical service to homes and businesses as a public safety precaution and to comply with the National Electric Safety Code.

While Entergy expects this to be limited to those areas that experience flooding, service disconnections could extend to more areas as water levels continue to rise and approach customer homes, businesses and electrical equipment. As floodwaters rise and enter houses, we may have to disconnect service to customers. In some cases where accessibility is an issue with floodwaters, we may have to de-energize a line segment which may disconnect service to houses that are not flooded, as well as those that are flooded. Our intent is to take every reasonable step to avoid interrupting service to areas not affected by flooding.

With assistance from state and local officials, Entergy Mississippi is closely monitoring the situation and will keep our customers informed of plans to disconnect service as conditions warrant.

When floodwaters have receded and customers are able to return to their homes, Entergy urges you to take safety precautions and keep the following in mind:

  • Stay away from downed power lines and flooded areas. Do not walk in standing water and do not venture into areas of debris, since energized and dangerous power lines may not be visible.
  • Once floodwaters recede, we will work with customers to restore service. Customers should call 1-800-ENTERGY (1-800-368-3749) to request service reconnections.
  • If your property has any water damage, turn off the electricity at either the main fuse box or circuit breaker and call a licensed electrician for advice and possible inspection of the property’s electric wiring. Customers should not step in water to get to the fuse box or circuit breaker.
  • Even if you do not have property damage, you should still be cautious. Look for electrical system damage after power is restored. If sparks, broken or frayed wires, or the smell of hot insulation is noticeable, turn off the electricity at either the main fuse box or circuit breaker.
  • For customers’ safety, we suggest a qualified electrician inspect electrical equipment inside of the facility or home, even if their city or county does not require inspection. If the breaker is turned on before such inspections, you may cause personal injury or property damage.
  • Remember, dehumidifiers, fans or other equipment used to dry out your home can use a lot of electricity, so even if you’re not living in the home, your electric use could be high. And, if insulation or walls are removed during clean up, your home may not be protected from exterior temperatures, causing your heater to run more. Both of these can lead to high bills.

EMERGENCY SUPPLIES AVAILABLE

The American Red Cross has set up sites in Jackson for people affected by the flood to pick up emergency supplies, light snacks, and water.

Red Cross Shelter – Jackson
Jackson Police Training Center
3000 St. Charles Street, Jackson

RESOURCE CENTER TO OPEN 

Members of the Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD), along with Hinds County EOC and the city of Jackson, are opening a Resource Center, Friday, February 21, 2020.

The Resource Center is located at Christ United Methodist Church, 6000 Old Canton Road, Jackson, Miss. Operating hours for the Resource Center are:

  • Friday, February 21, 2020            8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Saturday, February 22, 2020    8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Sunday, February 23, 2020        1:00 PM – 4:00 PM
  • Monday – Friday                                 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Survivors/Clients may request services from organized volunteer groups for outside debris cleanup and interior muck out and removal.

Representatives of The Salvation Army, American Red Cross, United Methodist Committee on Recovery and Catholic Charities will be available to assist with short term housing, food, clothing, and other needs.  Spiritual and Emotional Care providers will also be available. The Department of Mental Health is also available for assistance: 1-877-210-8513.

Survivors/Clients in the city of Jackson may call the 311 line or the non-emergency line for the City of Jackson (601) 960-1234 to request assistance.

MEMA has also set up a Disaster Survivor Assistance helpline 1-800-434-4243 for the flood survivors seeking assistance. This helpline will be active Monday through Saturday from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM and on Sunday from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM.

HOW TO VOLUNTEER

Those desiring to volunteer to assist survivors/clients can contact the Central MS Hub for Volunteers and Nonprofits (601) 698-0061 ext. 13 or email karla.edwards@alliancems.org for connection to opportunities and groups.