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Use Extreme Care When Returning Home After a Natural Disaster

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By David E. Hubler
Contributor, EDM Digest

The recent severe storm system that spawned tornadoes and flooding across the southern U.S. left a wide swath of death and destruction in its wake. The National Weather Service said 39 possible tornadoes were reported over the weekend.

As of Tuesday morning, the death toll stood at 20. Fifteen of those fatalities were in Georgia.

On Monday, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal expanded his state of emergency declaration to cover 16 counties. That included Dougherty County, where four persons were killed over the weekend. Seven others died and 45 homes were destroyed or damaged in a Cook County mobile home community.

Deal is planning to tour the hardest-hit counties on Wednesday.

A Dougherty county commissioner called on President Trump to expedite relief after requests to the Federal Emergency Management Agency went unanswered, probably due in part to the lack of a sitting FEMA director during the change in administrations.

“We’ve been begging for the help of FEMA,” Christopher Cohilas told a news conference. “We’re not asking for money right now. We’re asking for resources.”

Safety Tips from FEMA

FEMA has an online list of steps to take for anyone who has experienced a natural disaster such as a flood, tornado or forest fire. Above all, FEMA advises, do not return to your home before local officials declare the area safe. Even then, take precautions upon entering the property.

Do not enter your home if:

  • You smell gas.
  • There is floodwater remaining around your home.
  • Fire or strong winds damaged your home and the authorities have not declared your home safe to enter.
  • You see fallen objects, downed electrical wires and weakened walls, bridges, roads or sidewalks.

Use caution when entering a damaged building:

  • If you use a battery-powered flashlight, turn it on before you enter your property. The battery could spark and ignite leaking gas.
  • Enter the building carefully and check for damage. Be aware of loose floor boards and slippery floors.
  • If you smell gas or hear a hissing or blowing sound, open a window and get out of the house immediately. Call the gas company on a cell phone outside the home or from a neighbor’s residence.
  • Check the building’s electrical system unless your clothes are wet, you are standing in a pool of water or you’re unsure of your safety. Turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker if possible. Do not turn on lights until you are sure they are safe to use or an electrician checks them.
  • If your appliances are wet, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. Unplug the appliances and let them dry out.
  • Be wary of sheltering wildlife. Do not corner wild animals or try to rescue them. Call your local animal control office or wildlife resource office.
  • Do not approach wild animals such as snakes, opossums and raccoons that have entered your home. Wild animals often use the upper levels of homes to get away from floods and sometimes remain after the water recedes. Open a window or door to provide an escape route for any wild animal. Do not attempt to capture or handle the animal.
  • Watch for snakes and other predators. These animals will try to feed on the carcasses of other animals that drowned in floodwaters or were crushed in their burrows.
  • Do not move any dead animals. Animal carcasses present serious health risks to humans, including outbreaks of anthrax, encephalitis and other diseases.

About the Author

David E. Hubler brings a variety of government, journalism and teaching experience to his position as a Quality Assurance Editor at APUS. David’s professional background includes serving as a senior editor at CIA and the Voice of America. He has also been a managing editor for several business-to-business and business-to-government publishing companies. David has taught high school English in Connecticut and freshman composition at Northern Virginia Community College. He has a master’s degree for Teachers of English from the University of New Hampshire and a B.A. in English from New York University. In March 2017, Rowman & Littlefield will publish the paperback edition of David’s latest book, “The Nats and the Grays, How Baseball in the Nation’s Capital Survived WWII and Changed the Game Forever.”

David Hubler David E. Hubler brings a variety of government, journalism and teaching experience to his position as a Quality Assurance Editor at APUS. David’s professional background includes serving as a senior editor at CIA and the Voice of America. He has also been a managing editor for several business-to-business and business-to-government publishing companies. David has taught high school English in Connecticut and at Northern Virginia Community College. He has a master’s degree for Teachers of English from the University of New Hampshire and a B.A. in English from New York University. In March 2017, Rowman & Littlefield published the paperback edition of David’s latest book, "The Nats and the Grays, How Baseball in the Nation's Capital Survived WWII and Changed the Game Forever."