Residents urged to be prepared for flooding

MAYVILLE — With Chautauqua County expected to receive heavy rain and rising temperatures this week, Chautauqua County officials are reminding residents to be prepared for potential flooding.

The National Weather Service in Buffalo has issued a Flood Watch for Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Genesee, Niagara, northern Erie, Orleans, southern Erie and Wyoming counties this morning through late Friday night. Heavy rain and snow melt are expected, which may result in ice jam flooding.

“I urge everyone to be prepared for issues related to flooding and to please use caution,” said Chautauqua County Executive George Borrello. “Our Department of Emergency Services, Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Public Facilities are all monitoring the flood prone areas of the County, especially Cattaraugus Creek, and are ready to respond if needed.”

Moving Flood Water

During flooding, individuals should avoid walking or driving through floodwater. The deeper the moving water, the greater the threat as six inches of fast-flowing water can knock someone over and two feet of fast-flowing water will carry away most vehicles including SUVs and pickup trucks.

Pooling Flood Water

Flood waters may pool on streets and throughout neighborhoods. In these situations, be aware of the following:

¯ Road surfaces become obscured, and drivers can unknowingly steer into a deep body of water, such as a canal or pond;

¯ Electricity from streetlights and power poles may be active through standing water, causing a deadly shock to anyone coming in contact with it;

¯ Assume that all flood water contains untreated sewage;

¯ Stay out of and prevent children from playing in standing water and puddles, which can be contaminated and make them sick; and

¯ People coming into contact with floodwaters should thoroughly rinse any exposed body parts with soap and sanitized or disinfected water.

Contaminated Water Supply

Drinking contaminated water may cause illness. If you get your water from a public water system like a city or village, listen to local announcements on the safety of the water supply. If necessary, a boil water notice will be issued for your area.

If you have your own well and it is located in an area that was flooded, your water may contain disease-causing organisms and may not be safe to drink. For private wells that have been flooded, the Health Department recommends one of the following:

¯ Boil water for at least one minute before using it for drinking, washing, cooking, etc.;

¯ Disinfect water by adding eight drops (about 1/8 tsp. – this would form a puddle about the size of a dime) of unscented household bleach per gallon of water, and then let it stand for 30 minutes. If the water is cloudy after 30 minutes, repeat the procedure; or

¯ Use only bottled water, especially for mixing baby formula.

After the flooding subsides, individuals should:

¯ Disinfect their wells by using the procedures available from the Health Department at or provided at, and

¯ Have their water tested for bacteria by the Health Department or by a laboratory certified by New York State to perform a drinking water analysis BEFORE drinking their water again.

Contaminated Food

Individuals should also not eat any food that may have come into contact with floodwaters. Discard any food without a waterproof container if there is any chance that it has come into contact with floodwaters. Undamaged, commercially canned foods can be saved if you remove the labels thoroughly, wash the cans, and then disinfect them with a solution consisting of 1/4 cup of unscented household bleach per gallon of water for clean surfaces. Re-label your cans, including the expiration date, with a marker. Food containers with screw-caps, snap lids and home canned foods should be discarded if they have come in contact with floodwaters because they cannot be disinfected.

Contaminated Items

Discard wooden cutting boards, plastic utensils, baby bottle nipples and pacifiers. There are no ways to safely clean these items if they come into contact with contaminated flood waters. Thoroughly wash metal pans, ceramic dishes and utensils with soap and hot water and sanitize by boiling them in clean water or by immersing them for 15 minutes in a solution of 1/4 cup of household bleach per gallon of water.

For more information, contact the Environmental Health Division of the Chautauqua County Department of Health and Human Services at 753-4489 or visit .