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Flooding turns to clean-up

PRINCETON — Clean-up continues after the heavy rains and flooding that soaked Bureau County last week, leaving hundreds of basements flooded throughout the area. Along with that clean-up, comes some health alerts from area officials.

On Friday, the Bureau/Putnam County Health Department issued a health alert for residents as they clean up their flooded basements. Health risks from flooded basements include potential sewage infiltration and mold development from the moisture. Health department officials recommend drying out items and areas as quickly as possible and cleaning them with soap and water then a bleach solution.

The local health department has now expanded its health alert to people with private wells.

On Monday, Bureau/Putnam County Health Department Administrator Diana Rawlings said the local health department is offering free water testing kits for people with private wells affected by the recent flooding. The kits can be picked at the health department offices, at 526 Bureau Valley Parkway in Princeton and at 220 E. High St. in Hennepin.

Once the flood water has receded and the well has been disinfected, residents may sample their well with this kit and send the kit, via UPS, to the Illinois Department of Public Health laboratory for testing, Rawlings said. The minimums UPS shipping charges will apply, she said.

“Flooding in rural areas often affect private wells,” Rawlings said. “If the top of your well is submerged in flood water, do not use the water for drinking, cooking or bathing. Instead, use bottled water or boil the water for five minutes at a rapid boil to make it safe. Once the water recedes, disinfect the well with chlorine or contact a well driller to do the chlorination.”

If the wellhead or pump are damaged, contact a well driller, Rawlings said. More information is available at the health department’s website,, for instruction on chlorinating a well, she said.

On Monday, Kris Donarski, coordinator of the Bureau County Emergency Services Disaster Agency, said the American Red Cross is handling its response and assistance on a regional level, rather than through individual counties, because the flooding problem was so widespread.

Regional Communications Manager Kasey Kelly said the American Red Cross is working closely with city and county emergency management agency officials to monitor water levels and is also responding to needs for shelter, food, and emotional support in the affected areas.

Also, the Red Cross will distribute clean-up kits for families impacted by the flooding in Bureau County through the local Red Cross office, Kelly said. More information on the times and locations for those distributions will be announced as they become available.

On Monday, Princeton City Manager Jeff Clawson said the city has already started collecting debris from the Princeton houses that had items ruined in their basements due to last week’s flooding. City crews will continue with its pick-up through the week, the city manager said.

This week’s special collection is in addition to the regular city clean-up days which are held during the first part of May, Clawson said.

On Monday, Gov. Pat Quinn confirmed 44 counties are now included in the list of counties declared as disaster areas. Initially, after last week’s heavy rains and flooding, Quinn had declared 38 counties, including Bureau, as disaster areas. As he has toured the flooded areas, he has seen the devastation is widespread, he said.

“Over the past four days, I’ve seen some of the worst destruction caused by flooding ever, but I’ve also seen the incredible strength of our public safety officials and citizens as they fight to save their homes and communities,” Quinn said. “We will get through this, and we will continue to help all of the affected communities recover.”

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