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Some homes had sewage backups during Hurricane Sandy and may still have standing water and sewage in their basements.

What You Should Know

Sewage and flood waters contain germs that may cause stomach or intestinal infections if swallowed. Avoid contact with sewage as it may also cause infections in cuts, scrapes and eyes. Throw out any food -- including packaged food -- that has been touched by sewage.

What You Should Do
  • Keep children, pets and people with weakened immune systems away until the area has been cleaned and disinfected.

  • Avoid direct contact with sewage and wear waterproof gloves and boots. Wearing eye goggles or a face shield will prevent contact with splashes.

  • Pump out sewage or standing water in your basement. Stay away from deep water. Extensive damage may require cleanup and restoration by professionals. See Tips for Hiring a Contractor.

  • Remove visible sediment from surfaces by mopping and wiping with soapy water.

  • Disinfect by wiping surfaces with a dilute bleach solution. Use one cup of household bleach in two gallons of water. Never mix bleach with ammonia or detergents containing ammonia products. Dangerous gases may be created.

  • Dry surfaces thoroughly to prevent mold growth.

  • Wash clothing, bedding and fabrics using detergent and water. Laundering and thorough drying will disinfect most items.

  • When finished, disinfect your waterproof boots and gloves with the bleach solution. Rinse with clear water and allow boots and gloves to dry.

  • Wash your hands, body and clothing with soap and water after cleanup.

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  • NYC Restoration Centers provide information on the NYC Rapid Repairs program, temporary housing information, and health and medical benefits. They also provide food and nutrition assistance, counseling, and other services. You also can pick up a free N95 dust mask there.

  • NYC Rapid Repairs is a free program to help residential property owners affected by Hurricane Sandy make emergency repairs, including permanent or temporary restoration of heat, power, and hot water, and other limited repairs to protect the home from further significant damage.

  • The Department of Consumer Affairs offers an “Instant License Check” to determine if a specific contractor is licensed.

  • For reimbursement of additional repairs:
    • If you are applying for disaster assistance or filing an insurance claim, take photos of all damage before cleaning up. Keep receipts of all repairs.

    • Apply for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Individual and Households Program. This program will provide money to repair a home so that it is safe and sanitary to live in but it will not pay to return the home to its condition before the disaster.
      • Apply online at disaster assistance or by call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362).
      • Repairs made through NYC Rapid Repairs will not affect the amount a homeowner is eligible to receive through FEMA.

    • Contact your insurance agent about filing a claim.
      • Contact the New York State Insurance Department, Consumer Services Bureau if you have complaints about your insurance provider: 800-342-3736.
  • NYC Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit, Hurricane Sandy Recovery site.

For more information, call 311 or or visit

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