“Barn’s washed away. Now I can see the moon.” – paraphrase of a quote by Mizuta Masahide (Barn’s burnt down…)
Sitting here in sunny California, it is almost incomprehensible to see and hear of the devastation left by Hurricane Irene. In fact, I feel humbled and even a little foolish to have thought that I could write about environmentally friendly ways to cleanup after the waters and winds are gone. People on the East Coast are fast becoming experts in dealing with the aftermath, and I can only imagine what they are going through.
Even the people who just lost power for a few days. I say even, but to lose power is no small thing. It can have people feeling even more isolated because our whole world revolves on our dependence for electricity. No power means no phones, internet, etc. A friend posted that in her town the Trader Joe’s just regained power. And for some reason, this, more than the horrific stories I have heard all week, really put it into perspective for me. No Trader Joe’s to pop into for this or that? The things we all take for granted take on new meaning.
If you are returning home, please stay safe. Only go into buildings that officials have declared safe – there may be electrical hazards, cracks in the foundation, and other things that make structures unsafe, and you might not be able to see them yourself. Remember that the water may be contaminated.
When the water goes down, one of the biggest hazards is mold. Take everything you can outside to air out, and remove any wet wallpaper, drywall or insulation if possible. Some sites recommend using a diluted bleach solution to wash down walls and hard objects, such as wooden tables. Other sites recommend any number of more environmentally safe ones, such as Moldoff or Seventh Generation. Also recommended is good old Apple Cider Vinegar, and perhaps even diluted hydrogen peroxide. If you have a de-humidifier, use it. Not all mold is toxic, although it may bother some people with allergies or asthma. The key is to act quickly. If the project is too big or too daunting, you may want to call in a Professional Environmentally Friendly Mold Remediation service.
Looking at all of the felled trees, and the plant refuse, it is hard to see the sliver lining. But, several years ago, after Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana, this was collected and used to make bio fuel and new building materials. We hear of many eco-friendly housing projects that are being built. If you have to rebuild, or even replace, why not do it sustainably?
In the meantime, my heart is with you, and I am inspired by the courage and grace under pressure you have shown. I am grateful for each and every one of you. You are true heroes…