As an environmental consulting firm in South Florida, we recognize the great and terrible power that hurricanes have. Hurricane Irma recently rolled through our community, causing between $50 to $100 billion in damage. The numbers are still coming in, but the final number is sure to be staggering.
We want to keep our area free from environmental harm. Part of our service to our community entails educating people, which is what we hope to do today. Read on for tips as to what to do before and after a hurricane, to mitigate damage.
Store Hazardous Materials in a Safe Location
A Category 4 hurricane has sustained winds between 130 and 156 miles per hour. Hurricanes have the capacity to cause massive flooding. Unsecured or loosely secured objects can and will go flying in the wind, and heavy objects will come with the force of a great wave behind them.
This means that you need to secure all hazardous materials that you have outside. Barrels of petroleum, cans of paint, and all other containers of dangerous material needs to be dealt with appropriately. For many items, that might include bringing them indoors.
Flood Water Brings Pollutants with It
The most destructive part of a hurricane is often the water, not the wind. Floods are common. This is bad news for everyone who lives in an area prone to these storms. The flood waters pick up sewage, trash, and many other disease-causing agents, and spread them around. Hurricanes typically overwhelm the sewage system, meaning that bacteria become more prevalent in the area. Stomach illnesses and gastrointestinal infections are common after floods.
Do not drink the water until it is deemed safe by local officials. It may also be a good idea to study your surrounding area, so that you know sources of pollution. If a neighboring property has contaminants in the soil, you may face them yourself. Agricultural chemicals, barium, and diesel may be spread to your property. Should you find affected soil, it will prove wise to contact your local environmental consultants.
In addition, floods displace and uproot wildlife. Water moccasins and even alligators utilize the highways of water to enter areas where they would usually not venture into. Fire ants cannot survive underwater, and they will find higher ground. This may be your home. Mosquitos lay their eggs in water, and hurricanes provide them with an opportunity to proliferate. To make matters worse, this could mean an outbreak of mosquito-borne diseases.
If you have become aware of a problem related to wildlife, it may be wise to call your local animal control officers. Even if they are not able to respond to a threat, providing them with some information could prove invaluable.
Oil and Gas
One may find oil and gas refineries off the coast near many major American cities. Chemical and petroleum companies have factories in many major cities. Toxic waste sites can be found inside city limits of large metropolitan areas. Should there be a failure to contain any of these sites, disasters may occur. While the concomitant pollution is a problem, the spreading of certain chemicals could be a fire or explosion hazard.
If you notice anything of this level, it will be prudent to evacuate as soon as possible. Informing the authorities is crucial for ensuring the safety of those around you.
EPAC Environmental Services, Inc. would like everyone to stay safe during hurricane season. If you have any questions about environmental testing or clean up, do not hesitate to give us a call.