Florence’s Wake: Electrocution, Injury, Infection

Image: composite screenshot, ABC News

ABC News – Tropical Storm Florence is dumping near record amounts of rain in parts of the Carolinas, causing catastrophic floods that, on top of the damage to homes and businesses, pose serious health hazards to residents.

Muddy, opaque floodwaters can hide large or sharp objects dislodged during a storm that can lead to injury, “anything from a fracture to a major laceration,” said ABC News’ chief medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton.

The water may also contain snakes or other wildlife, human waste from overwhelmed sewage lines or chemicals leached or spilled from flooded sites.

Ashton, who was on the ground in Texas after Hurricane Harvey last year, said the floodwater dangers she witnessed included drowning, electrocutions from downed power lines, and infection.

“When you talk about what is in that water — human waste, raw sewage, toxic chemicals, oil, gasoline, potentially wildlife, snakes, alligators — then there’s the possibility for anyone with an open cut or scrape on their body for an entry, portal of entry for bacteria to get in there,” Ashton said.

Stagnant water is a paradise for bacteria, and any open wounds give bacteria a way into the body. That can lead to anything from a simple soft-tissue infection to a much more severe infection.

In addition, as Florence moves inland, environmental regulators are monitoring more than three dozen toxic waste sites in its path and scores of low-lying water- and sewage-treatment plants at risk of flooding.

The Environmental Protection Agency has identified 41 Superfund sites in threatened parts of the Carolinas, Virginia and Maryland, and Georgia, including polluted industrial sites, chemical plants, coastal shipyards and military bases. Read the full story at ABC News. 

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