Lusk, WY, Thursday, 2 p.m., June 11, 2015 - During the early morning hours of June 4, 2015, residents of Niobrara County, WY, awoke to sounds of floodwaters rushing by their doors. Manville resident, Jeremy Gray, said "Within minutes, we knew the flood was coming by, and then the car started floating."
Gray’s family is one of many throughout the county affected by the flooding. As the waters rose, residents did what they could to get out of the way. Now, with the help of the American Red Cross, as well as a number of other state and county emergency organizations, residents are trying to recover while monitoring the skies to see if more rain is coming.
American Red Cross emergency response vehicle operators, or ERV operators, Dwight and Marcia Andersen spent the day Wednesday, June 10, driving throughout the county providing residents with items such as rakes, shovels, work gloves, and bleach to aid in the sanitization of items touched by floodwaters. The Red Cross has also set up a Recovery Assistance Center at the Niobrara County Fairgrounds in Lusk, WY, where residents can continue to pick up needed emergency items, get free meals, or seek emergency assistance and advice.
Even after waters recede, the dangers from flooding still exist. Residents should be aware and be prepared while cleaning and removing debris from properties during the on-going recovery process.
The American Red Cross has a number of recommendations residents should follow including:
Washing hands with soap and bottled water to reduce the number of germs on them. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers may reduce the number of germs on surfaces, but cannot eliminate all types of germs in every situation.
Keeping wounds clean and covered to control the risk of infection. Washing wounds with soap and warm water before covering is a preferred method of wound care, but if a wound develops redness, swelling, or drainage, individuals should seek immediate medical attention.
Keeping living quarters clean. If at all possible, boots and clothing items that have been exposed to contaminants, such as mud and flood debris, should be kept out of living and sleeping areas to prevent further contamination. Wash or use wipes to clean all skin that was in contact with all sources that were in flood paths
Cleaning affected houses. Always wear a paper mask, gloves and when possible, some kind of eye protection to keep germs from entering the body. Using a spray bottle with a water and bleach solution (diluted at a 10:1 water to bleach ratio) is recommended as an effective way of reducing surface contaminates.
According to the Wyoming Department of Health, residents should also be aware of contaminated water sources. During flooding, the potential for bacterial contamination is great, as floodwaters may carry materials from barnyards, feedlots, and sewage disposal systems. Symptoms from groundwater infections may include stomach-ache, fever, vomiting, and diarrhea.
The Red Cross will continue to hand out bottled water for drinking, and recommends residents continue to brush their teeth with bottled water until all restrictions have been lifted. Additional assistance will be available at the Niobrara County Fairgrounds in Lusk, WY.
Tetanus shots (TDAP) are available at the Niobrara Health and Life Center in Lusk. There is a fee for these shots and health insurance is accepted. A mobile tetanus clinic will offer free TDAP vaccination at Bloomers, in Lusk, Saturday, June 13, from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. while supplies last.
Additional questions, concerns or rumor confirmation related to flood recovery efforts may be directed to the Extension office at (307-334-3534).
Additional rain and hazardous weather is possible in Wyoming this week. Flood and Severe weather preparedness information is available at www.redcross.org/prepare. To stay informed about life threatening weather and to get information about preparedness and recovery please download the new mobile app from the Red Cross called Emergency. Download the app from your preferred provider or from www.redcross.org/apps/