WALWORTH COUNTY — Officials with the Walworth County Sheriff’s Office are offering tips for those cleaning up after severe flooding, and encouraging victims to ensure they’re seeking trusted contractors for any needed repair work — so they don’t get scammed, and victimized twice.
Before entering any flooded area or structure, ensure that the electric and gas supply is turned off. If you are unsure how to check to ensure the electric and gas is turned off please contact your utility service provider.
Flood waters can carry disease causing bacteria that can result in serious illness. If possible wear waterproof boots, a mask, gloves and eye protection while working in and around flooded areas. If you sustain any injury while working in any flooded area contact your primary care physician for proper follow-up care.
Flooded structures are prone to structural damage. If you are unsure of the safety of any structure stay out until it can be properly inspected by a trained person.
If your structure has had a sewer backup or has been flooded, you will need to sanitize all surfaces in contact with the contaminants. Public Health recommends adding one teaspoon of bleach per gallon of water or one cup of bleach per five gallons of water for cleaning hard surfaces. Never mix bleach and ammonia together with each other. Other items such as furniture, carpeting, mattresses or other hard to wash items that have been in contact with floodwaters should be discarded.
Wet or damp areas should be thoroughly dried before any further use. Using a dehumidifier or fan to dry the area will help with this process.
Wells that have come into contact with floodwaters should be disinfected and tested prior to use. Information on well disinfection can be found HERE.
The Walworth County Department of Public health has well testing kits available and will provide water testing at no cost. Further information can be obtained by contacting the Walworth County Public Health Department at 262-741-3140.
The Sheriff’s Office reminds motorists to use caution on roadways that have been flooded. Damage to roadways from floodwaters is not always readily visible. If the roadway has been closed, for your safety, do not go around the barricades. Sinkholes can form with little warning which can result in injury to you and damage to your vehicle.
Finally the Sheriff’s Office continues to work with Wisconsin Emergency Management Officials to document and record damage to public and private property as a result of the flooding. Residents can call Walworth County’s Emergency Management Hotline at 262-741-7700 to report damage to homes or businesses. This is not a monitored line. Callers should leave their name, a brief description of the damage sustained, and a telephone number where they can be reached. Emergency Management Officials will return their call as soon as practical.
If you need help cleaning up, you’re asked to contact the Volunteer Coordination Hotline at (262) 758-4064.
Below are tips for those in need of a trusted contractor:
- Always use caution in your interactions with transient contractors, never let them into your home, and do not give in to their high-pressure pitches.
- Start your search for help with a storm repair project by researching trusted local contractors. Seek references from friends, family members, local home builder associations and co-workers. In addition, contact DATCP’s Consumer Protection Hotline (800-422-7128) to find out about complaints against particular businesses.
- Ask contractors if they are subcontracting your job. If they are, find out who the subcontractor will be and check them out as well.
- Get lien waivers from anyone you pay for home repairs. Lien waivers protect you if the person collecting the money does not pay the suppliers or workers.
- Get a written contract with a start and completion date and warranty information. Also, make certain that the contract states exactly what work is to be done and what materials are to be used. Never rely on a verbal commitment.
- Have someone watch the work being done. Check with your local building inspector to see if the work requires a permit. Make sure an inspector visits the job site before you make a final payment.
- Request a copy of the contractor’s certificate of liability insurance.
Local door-to-door solicitation rules vary by municipality, and there are legitimate businesses that may knock on your door with a sales pitch. A good practice to follow is to request a business representative’s permit to operate if your municipality has a door-to-door sales ordinance.