Does your organization have an emergency preparedness plan? As wildfires ravage the West Coast and forecasters predict a “hyperactive” Atlantic hurricane season, many Americans are growing increasingly concerned about natural disasters. While you’ve likely considered your immediate household’s response, you may not have thought of the environmental impact of natural disasters on larger organizations. Below, we’ve outlined some of the most pressing response guidelines, as outlined by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). With the help of organizations like Environmental Works, you can prepare an effective environmental emergency response to natural disasters.
An Environmental Emergency Response to Natural Disasters
Emergency Water Safety After Natural Disasters
If you live in an area prone to hurricane flooding, you know that flood water is nothing to trifle with. While flooding can be extremely destructive to homes and businesses, the aftermath can be even more dangerous. Flood water can contain high levels of hazardous materials, including raw sewage or harmful debris. After a flood, the EPA recommends avoiding well water until a trusted agency tests its chemical makeup. Additionally, if your small business uses a chemical-treated septic system, you’ll need to call in a professional to test the chemicals in your property’s wastewater.
Response to Harmful Debris After Natural Disasters
Hurricanes, tornados, and wildfires can all generate massive amounts of harmful debris. This debris ranges from trees and shrubbery to charred wood and building rubble. One thing is certain: It can be dangerous and needs to be dealt with immediately. When in doubt, call in an environmental response expert to navigate your community’s response. Keep in mind that natural disaster aftermath is typically banned from traditional recycling and disposal methods because of the sheer amount of debris.
Emergency Mold and Contaminant Safety
Sure, professionals in the demolition and building remodeling field need to know how to handle asbestos materials properly. But natural disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes expose everyday people to asbestos dust, which can cause asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. Although asbestos is rarely present in modern buildings, the collapse or damage of an older structure can lead to large-scale exposure. Natural disasters can also release other contaminants, like gasoline or hazardous chemicals from underground storage tanks. When these contaminants make their way into the environment, it can lead to long-term soil, surface water, and groundwater issues. Depending on the scale of the disaster, your organization may be responsible for reporting or remediating the situation.
How Emergency Response Works
During this time of unprecedented natural disasters, each and every organization should have an environmental response plan in place before an incident. Start by exploring the EPA’s emergency response guidelines, which advise environmental professionals to collect samples and monitor disaster area conditions. Environmental specialists like EWI may also be on hand for immediate emergency cleanup, as well as long-term remediation efforts. Remember that after a disaster, your organization may be obligated to act quickly. For that reason, you’ll want to have a natural disaster response plan on hand at all times.
In times of crisis, you may not have time to create an emergency response plan. Fortunately, Environmental Works can help with that. Our experts have served the community in the wake of some of the century’s worst natural disasters, including the Joplin Tornado of 2011.
Are you in need of disaster preparedness or remediation services? Give Environmental Works a call. We have in-house experts ready to help. We will walk you through the specifics of your organization’s planning and compliance needs, including everything from disaster preparedness to emergency response. When you’re ready, you can contact EWI online or call 877-827-9500 for more information.