Residents can apply online for FEMA assistance

Officials at the Putnam County Emergency Operations Center said Monday they received confirmation the Federal Emergency Management Agency declared Putnam County a major disaster.

“This will allow residents to apply for FEMA assistance,” Putnam Fire and EMS Battalion Chief Paul Flateau said.

Putnam County residents can apply online at disasterassistance.gov or by calling 800-621-3362.

Flateau said those with damage should contact the Emergency Operations Center, so workers can document destruction throughout the county.

“There is a lot of damage,” Flateau said. “We still had high winds Monday, so we are still trying to get to areas heavily hit.”

Flateau said significant flooding affected more areas than Hurricane Matthew.

With increased flooding throughout the county, officials have health concerns with standing water.

“Any floodwater or standing water should be considered unclean,” Flateau said. “During cleanup, if you have to be in standing water, wash with antibacterial soap and use disinfectant for clothes.”

Flateau said residents should clean open wounds immediately with antibacterial soap and keep wound dressings changed often and clean.

Another concern officials have is an increase in mosquitoes, which lay eggs in stagnant water.

“Mosquitoes will be prevalent in the next two weeks,” Flateau said.

Flateau said the Putnam County Sanitation Department is monitoring the situation, and residents should contact the department if they notice a large influx at 329-0395.

“Dump standing water in containers and old tires — get rid of it,” Flateau said.

Tablets can also be purchased at retail stores to drop into standing water, Flateau said.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Flateau said, between 60 to 70 percent of Putnam County residents were still without power.

Before Matthew, Flateau said, Putnam County had 200 to 300 electric crews ready to respond. Because of resources committed in Houston for Hurricane Harvey and extensive damage experienced throughout Florida, electric crews are spread thin.

“We expect areas to be out of power for an extended period of time, so shelters remain open,” Flateau said.

Flateau said generators should not be used or stored inside residences.

“Keep generators 20 feet away from any doors or windows,” Flateau said.

During Matthew, rescue workers responded to several carbon monoxide poisoning calls from generators. So far, Flateau said, there have been no medical calls caused by generators.

As power outages are prolonged, Flateau said, health department officials warn residents to not eat food that defrosted for four or more hours due to potential spoilage.