Sat | Mar 24, 2018

Cleaning up after a storm

Published:Friday | August 5, 2016 | 12:00 AM

Earl came and went, leaving most Jamaicans unaffected.

The real casualty of the passing system was Montego Bay, with many homes and businesses now having to clean up flood waters. Care must be exercised when undertaking the mammoth task of restoring normality and getting rid of the mess created by the storm.

Today's tips will focus on cleaning up after a storm.


Our first task is ensuring that we exercise personal safety before we attempt to make sure the surroundings are safe. Wear heavy work gloves and safety boots that are waterproof and preferably steel-tipped. A breathing mask may come in handy as well.


Clean-up often requires the removal of fallen trees and washed up debris. Work in teams and avoid lifting heavy loads alone. Take caution when cleaning up and have a first-aid kit handy for you and your clean-up crew. Remember, flood waters carry germs, and if anyone gets a cut during the clean-up process, be sure to clean the area thoroughly with soap and water and use antibiotic ointment to prevent infection.


The longer things in your yard stay waterlogged, the more likely the area will become a mosquito-breeding site. With Zika and chik-V being real threats, work quickly to reduce the risk of this happening. Cover yourself in insect repellent while working.

Much of the water-damaged properties can be reversed with sunshine. The longer items stay sitting in water, the more likely the damage will be permanent.


Drink plenty water or non-alcoholic drinks while working. External work can best be completed in the early morning or later parts of the day, and stay in the shade where possible.


After a storm has passed, mould can be a serious problem brought on by previous flooding or an overabundance of moisture. Use detergent and water to clean all wet items. Discard things that will not dry readily, such as carpeting, mattresses, large stuffed toys, rugs and paper products. Air out your house by opening windows and doors.



After a flood, you may find animals in your house and yard that weren't there before, particularly dogs, cats and farm animals (dead and alive). They aren't always safe to handle. Contact the Jamaica Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals or, in the west, The Montego Bay Animal Heaven, if you are unsure about health threats to yourself or the animal before you attempt to remove them.

Keep safe (and dry).

- Contributed by Weather Data Associates