September 13, 2021  

EPIC Extra
Sign up for EPIC Newsletters

Along with damage to homes and infrastructure, Hurricane Ida and the storms caused by it have increased stress, anxiety, and perhaps even trauma as the nation continues to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. Use the resources and information below to care for yourself and your loved ones.

A woman and child check on a neighbor as all wear masks

Safety and Recovery After Hurricane Ida

Hurricanes, floods, and natural disasters impact communities in countless ways long after the clouds clear and floodwaters recede. Hurricane Ida first made initial landfall on the gulf coast nearly two weeks ago and brought devastating floods and tornadoes to the Northeast. State and local governments, federal partners, emergency responders, and volunteer organizations remain committed to the people who call the impacted areas home. As we learn more and continue to grieve and cope with the losses from the last two weeks, we also continue to hear stories of hope and resilience in the impacted communities.

Thousands are returning to their homes unsure of what to expect. Others, both on the gulf coast and in New York and New Jersey, remained in their homes throughout the storms. As many people return to their homes and begin the process of cleaning up after the damage caused by Ida, it’s important that hurricane survivors and responders follow important health and safety actions to protect themselves during this phase.

CDC provides information and tips for reentering homes, cleaning up mold, preventing injury, preventing mosquito bites, and checking on your neighbors and loved ones.

Take these steps to help prevent any additional injuries, illnesses, and deaths from this storm. Please share this information with others who may benefit.

Return Home Safely

Follow the recommendations of your local government officials before traveling through and returning to affected areas.

Try to return to your home during the daytime so that you do not have to use any lights. Use battery-powered flashlights and lanterns, rather than candles, gas lanterns, or torches.

  • When cleaning and sanitizing your home, keep children and pets out of the affected area until cleanup has been completed. Wear personal protective equipment during cleanup of affected area.
  • Food may not be safe to eat during and after an emergency. Safe water for drinking, cooking, and personal hygiene includes bottled, boiled, or treated water. Your state, local, or tribal health department can make specific recommendations for boiling or treating water in your area.
  • Throw away food that may have come in contact with flood or storm water, perishable foods, and those with an unusual odor, color, or texture. When in doubt, throw it out.
  • If you have standing water in your home and can turn off the main power from a dry location, then go ahead and turn off the power, even if it delays cleaning. If you must enter standing water to access the main power switch, then call an electrician to turn it off. NEVER turn power on or off yourself or use an electric tool or appliance while standing in water.
  • Have an electrician check the house’s electrical system before turning the power on again.
  • If you smell gas or suspect a leak, turn off the main gas valve, open all windows, and leave your house immediately. Notify the gas company or the police or fire departments or State Fire Marshal’s office, and do not turn on the lights or do anything that could cause a spark. Do not return until you are told it is safe to do so.
  • If the house has been closed up for several days, enter briefly to open doors and windows to let the house air out for a while (at least 30 minutes) before you stay for any length of time.
  • If your home has been flooded and has been closed up for several days, assume your home has mold.

If your home has been flooded, it also may be contaminated with sewage. See Floodwater After a Disaster or Emergency.

Safely Remove Mold

Removing mold is one of the most common cleaning tasks after flooding. When removing mold, never mix bleach with ammonia or other household cleaners. Mixing bleach with ammonia and other cleaning products will produce dangerous, toxic fumes.

  • To remove mold growth from hard surfaces, use commercial products, soap and water, or a bleach solution of no more than 1 cup of household laundry bleach in 1 gallon of water. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use (see product label). Use a stiff brush on rough surface materials such as concrete.
  • Clean up and dry out the building as quickly as you can.
  • When in doubt, take it out! Remove all porous items, like carpet, drywall, and insulation material, that have been wet for more than 48 hours and that cannot be thoroughly cleaned and dried. These items can remain a source of mold growth and should be removed from the home.
  • Exposure to mold can lead to asthma attacks, eye and skin irritation, and allergic reactions. It can lead to severe infections in people with weakened immune systems. If possible, people with asthma or people with weakened immune systems should avoid contaminated buildings and contaminated water as much as you can.
  • For more information visit: more information about how to safely return home after a disaster, visit: Reentering Your Flooded Home
  • Printable Resource: 8 Tips to Clean Up Mold (Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, French, Haitian Creole, Tagalog, Vietnamese)

Prevent Injury

There are risks of physical injury when returning home, such as risk of electrocution from broken power lines, carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning from improper generator use, and injuries using a chainsaw during clean up efforts.

Power Outages and Electrical Dangers

  • Never touch a fallen power line. Do not walk or drive through standing water if downed power lines are in the water.
  • If electrical circuits and electrical equipment have gotten wet or are in or near water, turn off the power at the main breaker or fuse on the service panel. Do not enter standing water to access the main power switch.
  • For more information visit: When the Power Goes Out

Prevent CO Poisoning

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause sudden illness and death if inhaled.

  • Never use a generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine inside your home, basement, or garage or less than 20 feet from any window, door, or vent of your home or your neighbor’s home.
  • When using a generator, use a battery-powered or battery backup CO detector in your home.
  • Never use a charcoal grill, hibachi, lantern, or portable camping stove inside a home, tent, or camper.
  • If conditions are too hot or too cold, seek shelter with friends or at a community shelter.
  • If CO poisoning is suspected, move to outside air, call 911 or your local Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 or consult a health care professional right away.
  • Printable Resource: You can Prevent Carbon Monoxide Exposure (Multiple Languages)

Stay Safe While Using a Chain Saw

  • Wear proper protective clothing and glasses.
  • Choose the proper size of chain saw to match the job.
  • Operate, adjust, and maintain the saw according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Take extra care in cutting “spring poles” trees or branches that have been bent, twisted, hung up on, or caught under another object during a high wind.
  • Be sure that bystanders are at a safe distance from cutting activities.
  • Check around the tree or pole for hazards, such as nails, power lines, or cables, before cutting.
  • Visit Preventing Chain Saw Injuries During Tree Removal After a Disaster for more information.

See more safety tips and information on Stay Safe After a Hurricane or Other Tropical Storm.

Prevent Mosquito Bites

Areas affected by flooding attract mosquitoes.

Some mosquitoes can spread diseases like Dengue, chikungunya, and Zika virus. The best way to prevent diseases spread by mosquitoes is to protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites.

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Remove standing water where mosquitoes could lay eggs.
  • Stay in places with air conditioning, if possible. Only open doors or windows with screens that keep mosquitoes outside.
  • Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents on exposed skin.
    • Use a repellent with one of the following active ingredients: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, or 2-undecanone.
    • Always follow the product label instructions.
    • Reapply insect repellent as directed.
  • Do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing.
  • If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second.
  • Visit Mosquitoes and Hurricanes for more information.

Check on Your Neighbors, Family, and Friends

Together, strong communities will more quickly rise above the devastation and damage from Hurricane Ida and the recent storms. By looking out for each other, you can help prevent more illnesses, injuries, and deaths caused by this disaster.

Call or check on your neighbors, friends, and family in the area to make sure they are okay and that their basic needs are being met. There may be ways you can help each other, and connection and support will help everyone cope during this difficult time.

It is especially important to check on someone you know who is older, has chronic health conditions, or lives alone.

Take Care of Yourself and Help Children Cope

Everyone reacts to disasters and emergencies differently and your own feelings will change over time. Notice and accept how you feel.

Learn more about coping with a disaster or traumatic event.

Children and teens also react in different ways to disasters. Learn about Helping Children Cope with Emergencies (Spanish) to protect their mental health. Teens can visit Coping After a Natural Disaster: Resources and Information for Teens to find information, coping tips, and stories from other teens who have lived through a natural disaster.

If you or someone you know are struggling to cope, call or text for help:

SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Hotline- Call or text 1-800-985-5990. (Deaf/hearing impaired can use your preferred relay service to call 1-800-985-5990).

Contact Us

Email envelope 


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1600 Clifton Rd
Atlanta, GA 30329

Contact CDC-INFO
800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) TTY: 888-232-6348