With flood damage cleanup underway in McCracken County, safety is key

MCCRACKEN COUNTY, KY — As people continue to deal with flooding in the Local 6 area, some of you are starting to clean up. There is a safe way to do it.

The McElya family lives in West Paducah, and they are practically rebuilding their whole home because of flood damage. They started piling up drywall about a week ago, and it will only continue to grow as they continue the cleaning process inside.

Teresa McElya said this isn’t the first time they’ve dealt with this, and it never gets any easier. “Noel has lived here his whole life,” McElya said. “I mean, his family has property around here for 100-150 years.”

But that doesn’t mean this round of flooding hasn’t been tough. “When we first started packing up, I just sat there on the couch and started bawling,” McElya said. “He assured me we be all right. I hope that this will be the last time that we have to go through this.”

Despite all the damage Mother Nature has brought to the McElyas, they’re sticking around. “You have to act quick,” McElya said. “You have to get in there. You have to get your belongings out and get everything that you love out. It’s like losing your house, really.”

They’re having to start from scratch — again.  “He started ripping out all of the wet material in there,” McElya said. “He’s just in the process right now trying to get everything dried out so that he can start bleaching it and then starting to repair.”

Lindsey Cunningham with the McCracken County Health Department said people need to be extra careful, because floodwaters contain toxins that can burn or poison you. “If your house has been closed up for several days, assume that there’s mold in there,” Cunningham said. “So, you want to use a bleach solution and personal protective equipment to clean those areas.”

If you are starting to clean your home from floodwater damage, pick up a protective mask from your local Walmart, drug store or hardware store.  It will keep you from being exposed to harsh chemicals.

If you have black mold, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says to pick up a N95 mask or respirator with a higher protection level.

The Paducah-McCracken County Office of Emergency Management says crews are still assessing damage. Once they are done, they will try to help those in need with cleanup.

For more information from the CDC about flood damage cleanup, click here. For more information about the dangers of mold after flooding or a natural disaster, click here.