After the initial flooding and torrential downpour subside, Hurricane Harvey will put thousands of residents at risk for major health issues.
In addition to drowning, falls and other deadly injuries, victims of Harvey may endure the following:
Many of those who did prepare for the storm may not have stored plenty of food, especially healthy fresh food. Those trapped in their homes may find the food they did store contaminated by flood water.
Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank 2016
The World Health Organization states that floods bring water borne diseases such as cholera, typhoid fever, leptospirosis and Hepatitis A. Vector borne diseases include Zika, malaria, dengue hemorrhagic fever, yellow fever, and West Nile.
Mosquitos initially get washed away during the storm, but the resulting puddles of water take weeks to dry and make ideal breeding grounds for insects.
The water gets dirty pretty quickly. People touching the flood water need to wash their hands thoroughly before eating or preparing food.
Moreover due to the moisture that seeped into walls and floors of houses, mold can grow and cause a variety of respiratory issues among other physical ailments. Massive disinfecting needs to take place before coming home to flood water contaminated residencies.
Chemicals from garages and fuel seeping into flood water expose victims to many compounds such as benzene, toluene and xylene that can cause a multitude of health effects including those that affect breathing, skin, the gut, balance, thought, and memory.
A Cajun Navy rescuer told CNN that looters fired shots at him and his comrades, trying to take their rescue boat, which had actually broken down. Panic fuels dangerous behavior and those without resources may try to take from those who prepared.
Sexual assault crimes can rise as predators find the chaos and lack of video surveillance ideal conditions to find victims who can’t yell for help.
When one loses their home, neighborhood, income, treasured belongings and more, its devastating. Post traumatic stress disorder may ensue.
To combat these risks, medical personnel and the CDC are preparing. Among food, shelter and clothes, paper products, sanitizer, cleaning supplies, tetanus vaccinations and counselors will be needed is mass quantities.
How can we help?
Blood supplies will be needed as residents who routinely donate have evacuated the area. Donating blood at your local blood bank may be shipped to the area in need.
United Blood Services have locations throughout the country that can accept your blood Donation. Contact UBS here.
The American Red Cross is accepting donations. On their website, they ask to visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
The Salvation Army is also accepting donations online and by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY (725-2769).
The Red Cross and Salvation Army may also need local volunteers to help set up shelters. Contact the above numbers.
Local volunteers are asked to donate supplies to nearby recreation centers housing evacuees.
Supply drives in out-of-state locations may not be accepted directly but could help local charities who need to ship supplies to the affected area.
Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, iHeart Radio and Board Certified Family Physician