March 2015 flooding in Anderson Township.

HCPH has plans in place to minimize the impact of a flood to the public health infrastructure, specifically in the areas of environmental health, communicable disease, water quality, and waste management.

HCPH will provide information to assist communities recover from flooding events.


Flooding Recovery Resources

HCPH Flood Fact Sheet

Flooding in a Food Service Operation


Cleaning up after Flood & Sewer Backups

Victims saving belongings from flooded basement.

Bacteria, fecal material, viruses and other organisms associated with sewer water backups can cause disease. Use the following information to protect your health and prevent disease.


How do sewer backups occur?

  • Flooding of sanitary sewers during heavy rain.
  • Blockage in private sewer line (home, apartment).
  • Blockage in public sanitary sewer line.
  • Plumbing problems, such as gutters/down spouts or sump pumps connected to sanitary sewers.


How do I clean up after floods and sewer backups?

  • Odors from sewage backups are unpleasant but not harmful. Removal and cleanup of sewer water are essential.
  • Wash contaminated surfaces/objects with warm, soapy water and disinfect with a bleach/water solution, one cap of 5.25 percent chlorine bleach per one gallon water.
  • Discard or properly wash and disinfect toys, clothing, and other contaminated objects.
  • Wear rubber boots and gloves during removal/cleanup.


How do I prevent disease during floods and sewer backups?

  • Avoid skin contact with sewer water, especially cuts and sores. Keep them clean and covered.
  • Do not allow children to play in areas contaminated by sewage backup.
  • Do not eat/drink anything exposed to sewer water.
  • Keep contaminated objects, water and hands away from mucous membranes (mouth, eyes and nose).
  • Wash hands frequently, especially after bathroom use, before eating, and immediately following contact with sewer water or contaminated objects/surfaces.


When disinfecting contaminated objects…

  • Read and follow label instructions on bleach.
  • Never mix cleaning products.
  • Do not use ammonia.


Additional Cleanup Recommendations and Precautions

The following guidelines may help prevent the transmission of disease and reduce property loss.


U.S. Air Force photo by R.J. Oriez – Cleanup after flooding

Turn off main power switches. Air out and wipe dry all appliances and electrical outlets exposed to water before use. If you have fuel oil or gas systems, be sure tanks are secure and all lines are free from breaks.

Carpets and rugs
You can save carpet replacement costs by keeping carpets in place and cleaning with a mild detergent; carpets cleaned after removal nearly always shrink beyond recovery. Carpets and rugs with severe exposure to water must be removed to thoroughly clean. Remove silt accumulated on carpet liner. Generally, the carpet liner must be discarded because it cannot be cleaned adequately. If you prefer, call a reputable carpet cleaner.

Floors, drapes and furniture
Scrub and wash all objects in your home, including clothes, exposed to flood waters. If available, use the city water supply; it is chlorinated adequately to provide mild disinfection. Use cold tap water with soap – boiling the water will eliminate the chlorine content. Floors and other flood contacted surfaces should be disinfected with a chlorine solution made from household bleach. Prepare the solution by adding one heaping tablespoon of bleach (5.25%) to every four gallons of water. Take good curtains and draperies to a reputable dry cleaner.

Open all windows for drying and ventilation. Use electric fans.

Food and water safety
Discard food exposed to flood waters. If refrigerators and/or freezers have taken in flood waters, discard food stored there. If no flood water entered these appliances but power was lost long enough for foods to thaw, discard all partially thawed foods unless prepared immediately. Discard milk, cheeses and other foods prone to spoilage. Completely thawed meats and vegetables should be discarded without question. Discard all bulging or leaking canned food.

Keep flood waters away from mouth, nose, eyes and skin if possible. Flood waters can carry microorganisms and other contaminants. Keep children from playing in water. Wash and sanitize all contaminated utensils and cookware.


Food Safety During Power Outages

When power goes out, especially for long periods of time, it’s important to know when and how to use perishable foods. The best way to know if food is safe to keep or cook is to use a food thermometer to determine temperature of foods. 


If your food service facility
loses power, stop serving
food and close. Call the
Hamilton County Public
Health Environmental
Health Division at


Food in the freezer

  • Keep the door closed. Opening the door lets warm air in and allows food to thaw quicker.
  • If food reaches temperatures above 32º F, there is a 4 hour window to use the food. Cook it and eat it immediately, or throw it out. Do NOT refreeze it.
  • Any food completely thawed and not cooked should NOT be refrozen. Throw it away.
  • Frozen food can last up to two days if freezer is full; it can last up to a day when freezer is half full.


Food in the refrigerator

  • Keep the door closed. Opening the door lets warm air in and allows food to thaw quicker.
  • If food reaches temperatures above 41º F, throw it out. Do not freeze it or re-refrigerate after power is restored.
  • Throw out all ground meat. As a processed food, it can allow bacteria to grow much faster than whole meats.

If you don’t own a thermometer, the best method for keeping foods cold is to keep the freezer(s) and refrigerator door closed at all times. To be safe, if you can’t determine the temperature of perishable foods, throw out all completely thawed food to prevent foodborne illness. Once power returns, go to the local hardware or grocery store and buy a thermometer.


Check your homeowner’s insurance to see if lost food costs are covered in your policy. You may need to inventory discarded items.


Know the Facts!  Mold and Mildew

Mold and mildew are fungi that grow on, and sometimes within, surfaces. They can cause discoloration and odor problems, deteriorate building materials, and lead to health problems such as asthma episodes and allergic reactions in susceptible individuals.


What are spores?
Spores are the dormant form of mold. They are present everywhere in our environment. Mold develops from spores when humidity rises above 70 percent. Warmer temperatures (above 65 degrees F) also increase mold growth.


Where is mold in my house?
Damp basements and closets or bathrooms with little ventilation are ideal environments for mold and mildew growth. Materials or surfaces exposed to flood or rain water are also susceptible to mold and mildew growth.


How can mold affect me and my family?
Mold can ruin organic materials such as photographs, books, and cloth. It can also make permanent stains on plaster and other materials. Mold can produce allergic reactions in persons with respiratory conditions. With certain types of mold, reactions can sometimes be severe.


How can I prevent mold?
Reduce humidity and temperature. Open windows and doors if outside humidity is lower. Install and use dehumidifiers. Remember to empty them often.
Increase ventilation. Use fans to dry and increase circulation.
Look for signs of mold. Mold can grow and spread quickly. Be aware of potential problem areas and correct them as soon as possible. Dry and brush off objects affected by mold or clean with disinfectant products. You can’t get rid of mold spores, but you can prevent their growth by eliminating or reducing favorable growing conditions.



Ohio Department of Health Guidelines for Mold Mitigation

  1. Eliminate the water source
    1. All leaks should be fixed immediately (roof, plumbing, sub-floor, cracks in foundation, etc.)
  2. Clean the affected area
      1. If the area is greater than 10 ft2 then the mitigation should be done professionally.
        1. Consumer should ask for references from other mold mitigation projects.
        2. Occupants should not be present during mitigation.
      2. If the area is less than 10 ft2 the resident can perform the mitigation themselves.
        1. Anyone with allergies or sensitivities to mold should not perform mitigation.
        2. Anyone with pre-existing respiratory illnesses should not be present during the mitigation.
        3. All mold contaminated surfaces should be cleaned with a 10% household bleach solution (one cup of household bleach to one gallon of water).
        4. Wear protective gloves, eyewear, and an N-95 dust mask that is tight fitting according to directions.
        5. If the area cannot be cleaned, such as porous or fabric material or if the area is too damaged, remove the damaged material, double bag and discard. Replace with new.
        6. Discard any wet newspaper or cardboard.
        7. Thoroughly dry the area (use dehumidifiers as needed, but empty as often as necessary as not to add to the water problem).

Click here for a pamphlet titled “Dealing with Mold & Mildew in your Home after a Flood” from the Ohio Department of Health