Houston EMS Director: Public Health Disaster ‘Rapidly Evolving’

UPDATED: Drownings, carbon monoxide, shelter hygiene concerns


The muddy floodwaters now soaking through drywall, carpeting, mattresses, and furniture in Houston will pose a massive cleanup challenge with potential public health consequences.

TRAGIC UPDATE: Multiple drownings confirmed 

It’s not known yet what kinds or how much sewage, chemicals, and waterborne germs are mixed in the water. For now, health officials are more concerned about drownings, carbon monoxide poisoning from generators and hygiene at shelters. In the months and years to come, their worries will turn to the effects of trauma from Hurricane Harvey on mental health.

At a shelter set up inside Houston’s George R. Brown Convention Center, Dr. David Persse is building a clinic of doctors and nurses and trying to prevent the spread of viruses or having to send people to hospitals already stretched thin.

Public health dangers loom in Harvey-hit areas

“This is rapidly evolving,” said Persse, Houston Director of Emergency Medical Services. “I always worry in these large congregations of people about viral outbreaks that cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. And we are just getting started.”


“One of our goals is to appropriately treat people here with minor things so we don’t send everybody off to the hospital,” Persse.

Many of the around 3,000 people who fled from Harvey’s flooding waited hours in water mixed with sewage, oil, and gasoline. Some weren’t able to grab their medications or medical devices. Police officers on Monday afternoon were looking for more wheelchairs. READ THE FULL STORY AT ABC NEWS.