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Flood Waters in Michiana Carry Health and Safety Dangers

As flood waters begin to recede, area residents need to keep up their guard to protect against health and safety hazards.

If flood waters have reached a drinking well, residents of the property should immediately stop using the well and temporarily rely on bottled water for cooking, drinking and bathing, said Linda Mauller, environmental health director at the St. Joseph County Health Department.

Otherwise, they are risking illness if they come in contact with the water.

"You have to have it tested before you start using it again for culinary or bathing purposes," she said.

The St. Joseph County Health Department was busy Wednesday fielding calls from the public, Mauller said, but not as many calls as they received after a record rainfall in August 2016 dumped more than eight inches in just over a day.

The health department offers verbal advice and fact sheets about keeping safe during flooding, how to remove water from basements and how to properly clean up after water has receded.

"Don't go in standing water, even in your backyard," said Gillian Conrad, communications manager for the Berrien County Health Department. Employees in that health department were traveling Berrien County on Wednesday to determine which areas have been hit hardest by the heavy rainfall and flooding.

Flood waters can contain contaminants, and the water also may carry electrical currents from downed power lines or appliances, Conrad said.

For those on septic systems in ground that has flooded, it is best to limit use of water until the septic system has time to recover, she said.

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