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Disaster aid available to flood victims

(Published August 27, 2001)

Neighborhood volunteers Cleopatra Jones and Robert Branum sort through some of the donated clothing that has been brought to St. Martin’s Catholic Church on North Capitol Street to help victims of the severe Aug. 10 flooding that resulted in the District being declared a federal disaster area. Jones, president of the Bloomingdale Civic Association, and Branum were among residents who lost treasured possessions when raw sewage and storm water poured more than five feet of water into the basements of many D.C. homes. As the cleanup continues, relief workers are becoming increasingly concerned about the growth of bacteria in damaged homes and are continuing to seek both cleanup volunteers and supplies. For more information about donating time or supplies, call (202) 667-6329.

City officials are urging D.C. residents whose homes were flooded, even in a minor way, during the Aug. 10-12 storms to seek government aid to ensure the safety of their homes.

President Bush declared the District a disaster area on Aug. 16, making affected D.C. residents and businesses eligible for federal grants and loans to repair damage.

Residents and business owners may call the Federal Emergency Management Agen-cy (FEMA) at 1-800-462-9029 to apply for federal aid. FEMA workers are available at this number from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.

Assistance and information also are available by calling the D.C. Emergency Management Agency at (202) 673-2101, the American Red Cross at (202) 728-6401 or the Mayor’s Command Center at (202) 727-1000.

Health department officials are urging residents to discard carpeting, insulation and sheet rock that was saturated by the sewage-laden flood waters to avoid mold growth.

Residents also are being urged to wear masks or other respiratory protection while cleaning moldy areas to avoid inhaling excessive mold spores, which could cause an adverse reaction such as tightening of the chest or flu-like symptoms.

Health officials recommend the following for mold removal:

•Use a non-ammonia soap or detergent and hot water or a commercial cleaner.

•Thoroughly scrub all contaminated surfaces, using a stiff brush to clean masonry walls.It is best to use an excessive amount of cleaning solution. Rinse all objects with clear water.

•After cleaning, apply a disinfectant solution to the surface, using 1-2 cups of bleach per gallon of water. Wet studs, wall cavities and floors thoroughly and allow to dry naturally.

Copyright 2001, The Common Denominator