Officials: Avoid walking in standing water in flooded areas due to contamination risks

NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. — Residents in flooded areas are being advised to avoid walking in standing water or through puddles due to the risk for debris, sewer or oil contamination, local officials said Tuesday.

North Attleboro is still experiencing excess amounts of water pooling both outside and inside residents’ homes, officials said in a statement. Clean-up kits are also being distributed to local residents by the American Red Cross.

“As a result of this excess water, several sewer systems in town have been surcharged,” officials said. “The North Attleborough Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF) reported earlier this afternoon that sections of streets throughout town have been affected by this surcharge and have contaminated standing water.”

The affected streets with contaminated standing water include portions of North Avenue and Maple, Smith, and Mount Hope streets.

Town Manager Michael Borg, Fire Chief and Emergency Management Director Christopher Coleman, and Public Health Nurse Anne Marie Fleming are urging community members to avoid walking in standing water due to the potential for contamination.

The affected streets with contaminated standing water include portions of North Avenue, Maple Street, Smith Street, and Mount Hope Street.

City officials said “Drinking water has not been affected and is safe to drink at this time.”

“Residents are urged to avoid walking through excess water or puddles, as there may be debris and sewer or oil contamination,” officials said. “Community members who must walk through standing water out of necessity are encouraged to shower immediately.”

Meanwhile, the American Red Cross will be distributing clean-up kits for local residents from 5-7 p.m. on Tuesday at the Department of Public Works garage, 240 Smith St., while supplies last.

Residents can also fill their own sandbags at the DPW garage. Bags and sand will be provided by the Town, but residents will need to fill their bags with sand. Residents are welcome to take as many sandbags as they think they will need and may take sand whenever.

Red Cross clean-up kits include bleach, a bucket, scrubbers and sponges, mops, brooms, long-handle squeegees, garbage bags, and gloves.

Those whose homes have experienced significant flooding and are worried about potential safety hazards including gas and electrical issues are asked to call 911.

Those cleaning up damage from Monday night are encouraged to adhere to the following safety tips from the American Red Cross:

  • Wear protective clothing, including rubber gloves and rubber boots, and be cautious when cleaning up.
  • Learn more about how to clean up after a flood, including the supplies you’ll need, how to sanitize food contact surfaces, and how to repair water damage.
  • Be careful when moving furnishings or debris, because they may be waterlogged and heavier.
  • Throw out items that absorb water and cannot be cleaned or disinfected. This includes mattresses, carpeting, cosmetics, stuffed animals and baby toys.
  • Throw out all food, beverages and medicine exposed to flood waters and mud. When in doubt, throw it out. This includes canned goods, plastic utensils, baby bottle nipples and containers with food or liquid that has been sealed shut.
  • Pump out flooded basements gradually (about one-third of the water per day) to avoid structural damage. If the water is pumped out completely in a short period of time, pressure from water-saturated soil on the outside could cause basement walls to collapse.
  • Service damaged septic tanks, cesspools, pits, and leaching systems as soon as possible. Damaged sewage systems are health hazards.

Anyone with questions is asked to call the Board of Health at 508-699-0100, ext. 2560.

To learn more about disinfecting a well, click here.

To learn more about dealing with contaminations at homes, click here.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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