Home Original Hurricane Florence and Flooding: Public Health Concerns

Hurricane Florence and Flooding: Public Health Concerns


By Allison G. S. Knox
Contributor, EDM Digest

Hurricane Florence certainly gained a lot of notoriety and public attention when it was first classified as a potential Category 5 storm. Florence continued to strengthen over the course of a week on its path across the Atlantic Ocean towards the Carolinas, but once it was ashore, the storm’s power weakened considerably. Many Americans felt that Florence was less of an issue after it lost its hurricane category strength.

However, Florence still posed a threat to public safety with the tremendous amount of rain that fell. While Florence had lost its wind strength, it didn't lose the capacity to cause major flooding.

Just like Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Harvey, excessive flooding from Hurricane Florence has been a serious concern for North and South Carolina. It will continue to be a problem over the course of the next few weeks.

Excessive Flooding Must Never Be Underestimated

Flooding is a serious emergency situation. During Hurricane Katrina, individuals trying to escape the water in their homes went up into attics, but still drowned.

Flooding also destroys a home, leaving it uninhabitable. For example, mold moves in after the waters recede and floors and walls become more vulnerable to collapse.

There are numerous hidden dangers in flood waters: live wires, broken glass, pieces of sharp metal, downed trees, animals and underwater currents not visible to swimmers. These currents pose drowning risks to individuals who are not strong swimmers.

Flood Waters Contain Bacterial Hazards

One article by CBS News stated that Hurricane Florence flooded several farms. In the country, flood waters often pass over fields that have animal feces or the carcasses of drowned animals.

This type of flood water is a strong public health concern for humans and pets. The bacteria in the water causes disease for anyone coming into contact with contaminated water.

Preparing for Future Hurricanes

Ultimately, there aren’t a lot of ways to prevent massive floods like the type that North and South Carolina are currently experiencing. To effectively move forward with recovery efforts, emergency managers working flood water incidents need to plan for the extent of the floods and the hazards posed by flooding, especially in agricultural areas.

Allison G. S. Knox Passionate about the issues affecting ambulances and disaster management, Allison focuses on Emergency Management and Emergency Medical Services policy. Allison has taught at the undergraduate level since 2010. Prior to teaching, she worked in a level-one trauma center emergency department and for a member of Congress in Washington, D.C. She holds four master’s degrees in Emergency Management, National Security Studies, International Relations, and History; a Graduate Certificate in Homeland Security; and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Allison is an Emergency Medical Technician, Lifeguard, and Lifeguard Instructor, and is trained in Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue. She serves on the Board of Trustees for Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society as Chancellor of the Southeast Region, Vice Chair of the Tactical Emergency Medical Support Committee with the International Public Safety Association, and serves as the Advocacy Coordinator of Virginia with the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. She is also a member of several committees including the Editorial Committee with APCO, the Rescue Task Force Committee with the International Public Safety Association, and the Advocacy Committee with the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. She also serves as Chair of the Leadership Development Program for the 2020 Pi Gamma Mu Triennial Convention. Allison has published several book reviews and continues to write about issues affecting ambulances, emergency management, and homeland security.