In 1995, the force of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans shut down water and electric systems in many communities stretching for miles in every direction. My husband Bobby, an insurance adjuster, was quickly deployed to the area following the storm. At the time, he used a Delorme GPS for his laptop computer which was then considered state-of-the-art equipment. He met a National Guard group on the side of the road and they followed him into town using his device for direction as many roads were closed, street signs were gone, and there were few recognizable landmarks.
Water and Contamination
Although water was everywhere, none of it was safe to drink. The massive amount of storm water contained fragments of sewer and gas tanks, buildings, vehicles, and animal carcasses. People were desperately begging for food and water and one family was hauling water from their pool to the house so they could bathe their children. Always remember that water sources that have been exposed to flood water are contaminated.
According to OSHA, "flood water often contains infectious organisms, including intestinal bacteria such as E. coli, Salmonella, and Shigella; Hepatitis A Virus; and agents of typhoid, paratyphoid and tetanus.”
OSHA also states that “flooding can cause the disruption of water purification and sewage disposal systems, overflowing of toxic waste sites, and dislodgement of chemicals previously stored above ground. Although most floods do not cause serious outbreaks of infectious disease or chemical poisonings, they can cause sickness in workers and others who come in contact with contaminated floodwater. In addition, flooded areas may contain electrical or fire hazards connected with downed power lines. “
How long can a person survive without water?
The rule of thumb is that a person can survive three days without water. FEMA suggests storing one gallon of water per person per day as it is needed for drinking, cooking, cleaning, and growing food.
Water storage tips:
There are many ways to get and store water. Always use food grade BPA-free containers or containers rated ‘PETE’ or ‘PET’. Many juice and soda bottles contain these ratings. Never use milk jugs or carton containers.
The record-breaking and catastrophic disaster of Hurricane Katrina was devastating and left many people without necessary water. Although we may never experience such a calamity, my family has stored water for over 20 years and used it on numerous occasions due to well issues. Preparing and storing sufficient water will offer peace of mind and sustain life for you and others in the event of an unforeseen emergency.
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Angie and her husband Bobby have been implementing emergency preparedness and food storage practices for over 20 years. Angie is now a food storage consultant with Thrive Life Food.