Indoor Air Quality Alert: Atmospheric River Floods Southern California

What is the location of the flooding?

An atmospheric-river storm brought flooding, the threat of mudslides, and an airport closure to Southern California on Tuesday, February 20, 2024 (1). Rain and flooding most impacted Santa Barbara County, Los Angeles County, Ventura County, and parts of Orange, San Bernadino, and Riverside County.

Which cities or areas are affected by the flooding?

The cities and neighborhoods affected by flooding include: 

What is the current containment status of the flooding?

The containment efforts are ongoing, with authorities addressing flooded freeway ramps, power outages, downed trees, and closed roadways. Emergency response programs, search and rescue crews, and proactive measures are in place to manage the impact of the winter storm.

Are there any evacuation orders or alerts in place?

A flash flood warning was issued for areas of Orange, Los Angeles, and Ventura Counties. The warning will remain in effect until Wednesday morning (2).

Evacuation orders and alerts have been issued in various areas, including the Topanga Canyon area, Santa Maria Road north of Topanga Canyon Boulevard, and flash flood warnings for a swath of L.A. from Malibu to Griffith Park. Residents are encouraged to stay vigilant for signs of mudslides, and emergency measures, including shelter programs, have been activated.

The Santa Barbara Airport was closed on Monday due to excessive flooding (3).

How can I protect myself from mold after flooding?

It’s important to take steps to prevent mold after a flood.

  • Before entering a flooded area, make sure it is safe and free from electrical hazards or structural damage.
  • Use protective gear: wear gloves, goggles, and a KN95/FFP2 mask to minimize exposure to mold spores.
  • If there is still standing water, remove it as quickly as possible. Use pumps, wet-dry vacuums, or buckets to extract the water.
  • Open windows and doors to facilitate air circulation and use fans, dehumidifiers, and HVAC systems to help dry the space. This step is crucial within the first 24-48 hours after flooding to prevent mold growth.
  • Remove and discard any items that have been severely damaged by floodwater and cannot be thoroughly cleaned and dried. This includes carpets, upholstered furniture, mattresses, and any other porous materials.
  • Thoroughly clean all hard surfaces with a detergent or cleaner suitable for mold remediation. Use a solution of 1.5 cups of bleach mixed with one gallon of water to disinfect nonporous surfaces. Never mix bleach with ammonia or other cleaning products, as the fumes are toxic.
  • Maintain an indoor relative humidity (RH) of 35-50%. High humidity promotes mold growth, so consider using dehumidifiers in damp areas.
  • Run a high-performance air purifier for mold, both during and after the mold removal work.
  • If the flooding and mold damage are extensive, consider contacting professionals specializing in mold remediation to ensure proper cleanup and restoration.

Remember, mold can pose health risks, so it's important to take these steps promptly and thoroughly. If you experience persistent mold-related health issues or have concerns about extensive mold growth, consult with a medical professional or a mold remediation specialist.

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