Tribal officials warning Akwesasne residents to use caution when cleaning flood damage
Tuesday, March 6, 2018 - 2:40 pm

AKWESASNE -- Akwesasne residents cleaning up their homes that were damaged due to the recent St. Regis River flooding should exercise caution, the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe said in a statement published Tuesday.

The St. Regis flood waters can contain manure, herbicides and pesticides from farms, fluids from septic tanks and leach fields, and leaked chemicals and fuel oil, according to the tribe.

They say people recovering their property should always use rubber boots, gloves and a mask for cleaning.

Residents whose households were impacted by high water may dispose of debris for free at the tribe’s transfer station, 179 State Route 43, Fort Covington. Hours of operation are Monday through Saturday, from 7:30 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. Their phone number is (518)358-4632.

The tribe asks for people to catalog small items and take photos of large items being disposed of.

"This will be helpful calculating damages for any future claims," the tribe said.

All porous items that have been in contact with flood waters should be thrown away. This includes cloth and leather furniture, MDF wood furniture, carpets, clothing, toys and twist top food/drink containers.

Items that can be washed include hardwood furniture and smooth plastic items. They should be cleaned with detergent and disinfected with a small amount of bleach in water. Canned goods will need the label removed and the can washed, the tribe said.

For those with tribal water service, the water should be safe to drink as long as there are no broken pipes leading into the home. Those with very low water pressure or discolored water should not use it, and will need to call Shawn Martin at the tribe's Planning and Infrastructure Department at (518)358-4205 so their water can be tested.

Those with older homes who need to remove damaged plaster and suspect there may be asbestos or lead paint present should stop until an assessment can be conducted. They can call the tribe's Emergency Planning Office at (518)358-2272.

Those cleaning mold should not use bleach. They will need to use detergent while wearing a mask and gloves.

"Once the walls are clean be sure to dry it out completely so that the mold does not come back and if it does come back just clean with soapy water and re-dry," the tribe said.

Heating and air conditioning ductwork should also be cleaned by a professional, especially if water infiltrated into the duct work. Water from floods carries pollutants from septic systems, manure from farmlands as well as other toxics like pesticides and herbicide, the tribe said.

The tribe suggests people who want to hire a contractor to clean and restore everything call Pro-Tech Restoration of Northern New York in Plattsburgh at (518) 561-1610 or Robla’s Carpet Care in Waddington at (315)276-9131. Cornwall, Ontario contractors are not licensed in New York state, the tribe said.

The tribe suggests those who need to rent dehumdifiers or blowers contact the following companies: Wright's Tool Sales, Rental and Service, LLC, 40 Maple St., Massena, (315)705-2700; Simplex Equipment Rental, 1717 Pitt St. Cornwall, Ontario, 1(613)938-8181;

Home Depot, 1825 Brookdale Ave, Cornwall, Ontario, 1(613)930-4470; Sunbelt Rentals, General Equipment & Tools Branch #7015, 17305 Cornwall Centre Road Cornwall, Ontario, 1(613)933-0744

The tribe says people shosld track all costs and expenditures in case of a future claim through FEMA or New York State.

"We cannot guarantee that any reimbursements would be approved. Save receipts for any money spent. Take photos and catalog damaged and discarded items," tribal officials said.

A tribal Home Assessment Team can conduct air quality tests and inspections of home’s structure, heating, electrical and sewage systems. The team includes members from the tribe’s Compliance Department and Environment Division, along with representatives from the Franklin County Hazmat Team and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

A state of emergency in Akwesasne remains in effect.

"The Emergency Planning Office will continue to closely monitor the ongoing situation. Until the State of Emergency has been lifted, residents in the flood areas should remain alert, have an evacuation ‘go-bag’ ready, and monitor media for updates. If you are evacuated again, please write your name and a contact number on a paper and tape to your door so responders can locate you," the tribe said.

For emergencies, people can call 911, St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Police at (518)358-9200, the Hogansburg-Akwesasne Volunteer Fire Department at (518)483-1211 or the tribe's Emergency Planning Office at (518)358-2272.