No-contact order issued for local floodwaters

Tribune Staff • Feb 26, 2018 at 6:00 PM

The Ottawa County Department of Public Health has issued a no-body contact advisory for the Grand River in Ottawa County. 

This advisory will remain in effect until further notice. 

County health officials say floods can have devastating effects on your home and your family. Floods can contaminate food and water, which can cause illness. Floods can lead to other dangers, as well, like carbon monoxide poisoning, mold growth, electrical and fire hazards.

Sanitation and hygiene are very important during and after a flood because infections are likely to spread. Illnesses and outbreaks can occur long after a flood is cleaned up due to spoiled food, contaminated water, power outage or exposure to mold.

The county health department offers the following tips for flood situations:

Be ready

Create a household emergency plan and have an emergency supply kit (food, water, flashlights, batteries, cash and first aid supplies).

Make sure personal identification items, computers, electronics and other important items are in a safe place.

Stay tuned on your television, radio or phone apps to receive the latest weather updates and emergency instructions. Evacuate if directed.

If you have to evacuate, disconnect electrical appliances, turn off main electrical breakers or fuse boxes and, if instructed, turn off your gas valve. This helps prevent fires and explosions.

Learn more about preparedness at www.ready.gov/floods.

Health tips

Wash your hands. If you come in contact with flood water, make sure to wash your hands with soap and clean water. If water isn’t available, use hand sanitizer.

Flooded wells can become contaminated with harmful bacteria, viruses, sewage, fertilizers, pesticides and other chemicals. If your well has been flooded, drink bottled or boiled water and contact a licensed well driller.

If you receive a puncture wound or a wound contaminated with feces, soil or saliva, contact your physician to find out if a tetanus booster is necessary and if there are any other recommended vaccines.

Food safety

When in doubt, throw it out! Throw away any food that may have come in contact with flood or storm water. This includes food containers with screw-caps, snap-lids, crimped caps (soda bottles), twist caps, flip tops, snap-open and home canned foods, as these types of items cannot be disinfected.

Throw away any perishable food items in your refrigerator (such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs and leftovers), if the power has been out for four hours or more.

Food items in unopened, store-bought cans that may have come in contact with flood or storm water must be washed and disinfected. If a canned food item is bulging, open or damaged, throw it away, whether it has come in contact with floodwater or not.

Throw away any food with an unusual odor, color or texture.

Clean up

If you have water in your home or basement, it could be contaminated with pollutants.

Remove standing water and wet materials. Use a wet vacuum to remove water from floors, carpets and hard surfaces.

Dry your home and everything in it as quickly as you can — within 24-48 hours, if you can.

Handle items that come in contact with floodwaters with care, by disposing of wet items or cleaning wet items with a disinfectant.

If you use cleaning products, do not mix cleaning products together. Do not mix bleach and ammonia because it can create toxic vapors.


Mold begins to grow on items that were wet for two days or longer. You may not be able to see mold, but it can harm your health. Mold can cause asthma attacks or irritation to the eyes, nose and skin.

Painting or caulking over mold will not prevent it from growing. Fix the water problem completely and clean up all the mold before you paint or caulk.

Protect yourself from mold and cleaning chemicals by using protective gear such as long pants, long-sleeved shirts, rubber boots, gloves and goggles.

Wear an N-95 mask, available at hardware stores, to keep from breathing in mold. Do not use dust masks or handkerchiefs as the mold spores can pass through the very small holes in the material and get into your lungs. N-95 masks are specially designed to keep tiny particles, like mold spores, from passing through the mask. Make sure the mask fits snugly around your nose and mouth.

Safety tips

Turn around, don’t drown! Just one foot of moving water can sweep away a car.

If you see floodwaters in the road, take a different route. Water-covered roads can collapse. Do not drive over bridges that are over fast-moving floodwaters. Their foundations can be unstable.

Avoid walking through floodwaters. They can carry dangerous debris (glass or metal), chemicals or sewage. Just 6 inches of moving water can knock you down.

Keep pets and children away from floodwaters.

Avoid downed power lines to prevent electrocution.

If you have more flood health concerns or questions, call 616-393-5645 or visit www.miOttawa.org/EH.

Flood warning continues

The flood warning posted by the National Weather Service for the Grand River at Robinson Township remains in effect through late Friday, March 3.

As of Monday, the river at Robinson Township was slightly over 16 feet. The flood stage is 13.3 feet. Moderate flooding is occurring and more of the same is forecast. 

At 16 feet, Vanlopik Road is 2-3 feet under water, with moderate flooding of several homes on the east end of the Vanlopik subdivision.

The river is expected to begin slowly falling back below flood stage by Friday morning.

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