Bacteria Can Linger After Flood Waters Recede - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Bacteria Can Linger After Flood Waters Recede


It's natural for many people to start enjoying the riverfront as soon as the flood waters go down, but the contaminants that water carried can linger.

There's not much cities can do to clean up the invisible debris flood water leaves behind.

It's up to residents to be cautious.

Many parks in the area have left clues they were once flooded.

You can follow the debris trails where the water stopped carrying its cargo, but what you can't see are the pathogens, bacteria and things, some of those floodwaters contained.

Until those parks dry out, it's better to think the parks are just as gross as the water.

"We just walked and talked and we found a fish, and I picked up and I chased her, then I threw it back in the water," says Saint Ambrose University freshman Eric Herbst.

It's hard to tell a couple of college freshmen to keep studying for finals on the first 80 degree day this year. Herbst had none of it, he wanted to be outside.

"Just to live it up, it was a great day out, so enjoying the sun," says Herbst.

He was enjoying a LeClaire park free from standing water. Although soggy enough that footprints and bike tracks are easy to make. Soggy enough that harmful bacteria can still thrive.

"I don't associate it with flood water, when you go into a park you don't go oh there's bacteria in the ground, I'm going to have fun enjoy, eat read, whatever," says Herbst.

Rock Island County Environmental Health Director Paul Guse cautions against that thinking.

"You can go a matter of days before the pathogens, the disease causing organisms are neutralized," says Guse.

He says people shouldn't assume anything is clean just because the water has pulled back.

"Patience is a key word in this, you know, let nature take its course, there's lots of organisms that compete and a lot that are in flood water are not going to do well on dry land as it dries out," says Guse.

Look for clues like mud turned to dirt, and no standing puddles. Wash your hands if you do touch some of the stuff. He also advises against walking through the flood's leftovers barefoot.

"We realized none of our shoes would hold up against the water so we took them off," says Kylie Jansen.

She was walking through LeClaire Park with here shoes off. She feels invincible although she admits, floods can get pretty gross.

"I try not to, I do, I mean obviously there's some sort, we made jokes about catching diseases down there," says Jansen.

Diseases that are a real possibility until a flood's remnants, dry up.

The Rock Island County health department has lots more information about the flood cleanup and its dangers. We've posted a link to their information here.

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