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 Hurricane Clean Up

What to do next? Clean up:

Inspect for water damage.

Read landscaping tips (below) to see if trees and shrubs can be saved.

Throw out most food in refrigerator and freezer

(see possible exceptions below).

Cleaning tips

Hose off wet upholstered furniture to remove dirt. Remove drawers and let them dry, but do not put wet wood furniture in the sun; it might warp.

If plaster or plasterboard walls are wet, do not rub them. Let them dry, then brush off dirt and wash walls with a mild soap solution.

Wipe iron and steel furniture with a kerosene-soaked cloth to ward off rust.

Don't throw out damaged papers or art; professionals might be able to restore them.

Soaked books also can be saved. Dry in an upright position with the pages spread open. Then dust with cornstarch and stack to prevent wrinkled pages.

Clean your pool and lower it to its proper level.Chain saws

If you've never used a chain saw, don't try now unless you have someone who has, and is skilled at it, show you how.

If you do use one: Wear goggles or safety glasses, earplugs and a hard hat, plus gloves to prevent blisters and slipping.


Never run a generator in your home, in an attached garage, on the porch, in a crawl space, or near a door or window. Keep it outside and ventilated, but out of the sun. Also, keep it away from air intakes to the home. The carbon monoxide fumes it emits are colorless, odorless and can kill. Every home should have a carbon monoxide alarm.

Store gasoline outdoors, away from anything that can ignite it. Never store in the garage or home.

Don't connect the generator to your home's wiring system. You could be electrocuted or start a fire, and power could travel to power lines, killing neighbors or repair crews.

Using electrical cords, connect items directly to generator. Be sure cords are not damaged or wet and don't lie in water.

Your yard

If saltwater flooded your plants and lawn, rinse them as soon as there's water to spare.

To help neutralize salt-soaked soil, spread gypsum (available at lawn centers) according to directions. Do not over-apply. Neutralizing soil salt will take months.


Standing water promotes fungus. Check grass after water recedes and apply fungicide if symptoms such as yellowing and slime occur.

Re-sodding may be necessary if grass was soaked for long periods.


Uprooted but intact palms can be replanted. Be sure to stake them and pack soil around roots.

Cut off lower damaged fronds, but leave as many as possible to absorb sunlight and nutrients.

Trees and shrubs

Partially uprooted trees and shrubs generally can be saved. Replant them, pack soil around roots and stake trunks.

Trim most trees and shrubs back by one-fourth to one-third to reduce shock.

Citrus trees should be cut back by no more than one-fourth to save fruit.

Wind-shredded bananas, heliconias, ginger and birds-of-paradise should be cut to the ground. New shoots will emerge within weeks.

Encourage new growth

If leaves have blown off your trees, you can encourage rapid leaf growth with foliar nutritional sprays. Apply citrus nutritional spray to citrus. Most other plants and trees will benefit from a minor elements nutritional spray.

Food and water

How can I make safe drinking water?

Boil water vigorously for at least a minute. If you're unable to boil water, add six to eight drops of household bleach per gallon of water. Mix well and let it sit for 30 minutes before you drink it. Water should have a slight chlorine smell; if it doesn't, repeat dose and let stand another 15 minutes. In a dire jam, you can use water from a water heater. Turn off the power and open the spigot at the bottom. Don't reconnect until you're told water supply is safe.

Should I try to save my bottled drinking water?

No. Drink your water as you normally would. Stay hydrated, stay healthy. More water will be available later.

Can I use my tap water to wash my hands even if there is a boil-water order in effect?

It's safe for showering and washing hands. It is unsafe to ingest in any way, such as brushing teeth or drinking. Also, do not wash dishes with it.

Can I give my animal water out of the tap if there is a boil-water order in effect?

No, it could make your animal sick.


How do I know when to throw out food that was refrigerated or frozen?

The rule of thumb is that most perishable refrigerated foods held above 40 degrees for more than two hours must be discarded. If you don't have a thermometer, follow these general rules of thumb:

A full freezer rarely opened will hold its temperature for up to 48 hours. A half-full freezer will hold its temperature safely for 24 hours. If once-frozen foods have thawed completely, grill them immediately. But remember that even cooked meat must stay cold and is good for only three to four days under refrigeration.

A refrigerator will only keep its temperature for about four hours. The only items that still might keep beyond that are: butter, margarine, hard and processed cheese, opened fruit juice, opened canned fruit, fresh fruit, raw mushrooms, bread, rolls, cake, muffins, quick bread, vinaigrette dressing, jelly, relish, barbecue sauce, mustard, ketchup and olives.

If in doubt, throw it out. Food that smells fine may still contain bacteria. It's better to be hungry than sick.

What about food that has been flooded?

The only thing salvageable is canned goods, but wash cans thoroughly before opening.

How can I help keep food cold in my ice chest?

If only partially filled with ice, stuff the remaining space in the cooler with newspaper to trap in the cold.

How can I cook food without power? Use a charcoal or gas grill, or a camping stove. But do not use indoors because of the risk of deadly carbon monoxide poisoning. Also do not use them in either open garages or porches. Use them only outdoors.

Other information

How do I report a downed power line?

Call Florida Power & Light at (800) 4OUTAGE (468-8243).

Who can help me with emergency repairs on my home?

The Red Cross has some emergency relief, limited to $500, for quick repairs. It also provides other aid, such as medicine and eyeglasses. If you have an emergency, call the Red Cross response center at (866) GETINFO (438-4636).

Who can help if I can't locate a missing family member?

The Red Cross at (800) HELPNOW (435-7669). The number can also be used to make donations to the Red Cross.

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