Flood recovery is impacting one family's health

WOOD RIVER, Neb. (KSNB) - Health departments are expressing concern for people's health as they clean up after the flood, and that concern has become a reality for one family.

The Canfields are now going through what little of their belongings from the basement they could salvage after the flood.

Their basement is lost, but not because of flood water.

"Sewer water was coming in the shower, water from the sewer, and from the toilets, so we tried to pump that, but we couldn't keep up with it," said Nathan Canfield.

They had to cut 24.5 inches of dry wall off the basement walls, pull up the carpets and pull out insulation.

There are several fans on the floor, blowing on the wet ground.

The basement was the main "hangout" spot for the family, and one of the kids lived down there.

Due to the unsanitary conditions, Canfield said they started cleaning up the mess immediately.

"Hands were in it, our feet were in it, our kids were in there trying to clean it up, my wife was in there trying to clean it up," Canfield said.

There's a risk of sickness with the mold buildup, dust and contaminated water getting into people's homes.

Canfield said he and his wife are now sick after cleaning and being around the sewer water, although his wife had a cold before the flood.

"My wife, she has bronchitis/pneumonia. She's had to get on some antibiotics and steroids for that. I'm getting a cough. I think with the dry wall dust, and with the sewage we were in just getting in my lungs and us just breathing it in," Canfield said.

This is what many health departments are worried about, although the main concern is typically mold.

That's why they recommend using fans in wet areas, and wearing gloves and masks.

" You never know what's been washed in with the flood waters. There could be any kind of contaminants," said Jeremy Collinson, environmental health supervisor at the Central District Health Department. "It could be petroleum based, it could be some chemicals, it could be a number of things. So people just want to take precautions when they're out there."

Collinson said they also tell people to always wash their hands after cleaning, and to bleach all areas that were affected by the flood.

You should also leave your windows open to let some air into your home.

As for the Canfield's, they said their next step is to sanitize the items that got wet, or throw them away if they're too damaged.

They said they don't know how much they'll have to pay for all the work, but said they're grateful to everyone in the community who's helped them over the past few days.