St. Johns County: Be careful when it comes to drinking water, moving flood waters

St. Johns County officials say Hurricane Ian expected to bring worse flooding, winds than initially anticipated

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – Heavy rains and possible flooding are expected to hit St. Johns County due to Hurricane Ian, so St. Johns County officials are asking residents, businesses and visitors to take safety measures to protect drinking water as well as safety measures with the increased potential for flooding and standing water.

Contaminated Water Supply - Drinking contaminated water may cause illness. Residents and visitors are urged to listen to local announcements regarding the safety of the public water supply. If your public water system loses pressure, a “Boil Water Notice” will likely be issued for your area.

For private well owners whose drinking water wells are affected by flood waters, take precautions against disease-causing organisms that may make their water unsafe to drink.

Moving Flood Water - During flooding, the greatest threat comes from moving water. The deeper the moving water, the greater the threat. People should avoid driving in moving water, regardless of the size of their vehicle.

Pooling Flood Water - Heavy rain causes flood waters to rise and pool on streets and throughout neighborhoods. In these situations, be aware of the following:

  • Road surfaces become obscured, and drivers can unknowingly steer into a deep body of water, such as a canal or pond.
  • Electricity from streetlights and power poles may be conducted through standing water, causing a deadly shock to anyone coming in contact with it.
  • Children playing in contaminated standing water can become sick or be bitten by snakes or floating insects.
  • People coming in contact with floodwater should thoroughly rinse any exposed body parts with soap and clean water to prevent infection and illness.

Use one of the following methods if the property near your drinking well is flooded:

  • Use bottled water, especially for mixing baby formula; or
  • Boil water before use, holding it at a rolling boil for at least one minute before using it for drinking, washing, cooking, etc.; or
  • Disinfect water by adding 8 drops (about 1/8 tsp – this would form a puddle about the size of a dime) of plain, unscented household bleach (4 to 6%) per gallon of water, and then let it stand for 30 minutes. If the water is cloudy after 30 minutes, repeat the procedure. Use a container that has a cap or cover for disinfecting and storing water to be used for drinking. This will prevent contamination.
  • After the flooding subsides, disinfect your well using the procedures available from the Florida Department of Health via the following web link: www.floridahealth.gov/healthy-environments/private-well-testing/index.html

For more information regarding Hurricane Ian, call the St. Johns County Emergency Operations Center hotline at 904-824-5550.