Beyond the flood: Health risks of Hurricane Harvey

Beyond the flooding, devastation, and strife, there are serious health risks inherent in flood waters created by Hurricane Harvey.

(screen shot via YouTube)

San Diego, August 29, 2017– Deemed by President Donald Trump as a once in 500-year flood, there is no denying the unprecedented trillions of gallons of flood waters created by Hurricane Harvey and their devastating effect on Texas, Louisiana and bordering the Gulf States.

Rescue workers and emergency services are active and on high alert.

Hundreds of thousands of Americans are displaced from their homes and are seeking shelters. Schools and businesses are closed, and oil refineries are brought to a production halt and completely shut down.

Economic damages are unprecedented as there is no possible way to work nor engage in commerce. Power outages are now the norm. Suitable drinking water is in limited supply, and many communities are requiring that it be boiled prior to imbibing.

FEMA will likely remain actively engaged within severely destroyed states to help them rebuild their communities for many years to come.

Beyond the flooding, devastation, and strife, there are serious health risks inherent in flood waters created by Hurricane Harvey.

(screen shot via Twitter)

According to Forbes, the following are the top public health and safety concerns following a hurricane:

-Water borne infections contain sewage, toxic chemicals, parasites and viral and bacterial infections such as cholera, typhoid and yellow fever a serious health risk. Though many infections are prevented by vaccinations, those without prior vaccinations may benefit from antibiotics.

-Wound infections are common in hazardous and rescue situations where injuries by sharp or blunt objects become commonplace. Open wounds exposed to infected flood waters may cause serious viral and bacterial infections and require immediate medical attention. Tetanus is also a concern.

-Mosquito-borne infections spread quickly as stagnant waters provide perfect breeding grounds. Mosquito-borne infections spread quickly from viruses such as Zika, Gangue, West Nile, and Chagas.

-Mental health concerns may arise as the trauma created by such a magnanimous event such as Hurricane Harvey can create fear, anxiety, stress, and anger. Preexisting mental health conditions could become exacerbated. It would not be uncommon for the aftermath of such an experience be post traumatic stress.

As Hurricane Harvey subsides over the next several days, it will be a time of rebuilding-from the inside out.

A time of prayer and expressions of gratitude for the preservation of life, and for survival itself, could give way to celebration.

As weary survivors return to their ruined and disarrayed homes, it is advised to wear rubber gloves, rubber boots, and be fully clothed as the clean-up process begins.

Wear disposable masks to prevent inhaling viruses or other infections, while protecting skin while using cleaners and other chemical-containing products.

All walls, countertops, floors, cabinets, carpets, linens, clothes and more will require heavy and thorough cleaning.

Throw away old foods and eliminate garbage from the home environment.

Seek immediate medical attention for any unusual health related symptoms such as wounds, blisters, rashes, coughs or pain of any kind.

Pay attention to the emotional well-being of all who are around you-someone might require special help.

Contact any available medical center and seek immediate health, medical and mental health assistance.

No one can predict when disaster might strike, or what the magnitude of the destruction it could create.

Americans are known for coming together through times of great difficulty as “One nation, under God, indivisible….”

We react and respond with humanity and selflessness, and embody the meaning of resilience.

At this time, LifeCycles wishes to extend their heartfelt prayers and continuous thoughts for the victims and survivors of Hurricane Harvey.

We also express our gratitude for the brave men and women who are Country’s first responders; and, whose bravery is ever-present as they selflessly risk their lives to assist, rescue and save others–one tragedy at a time.

Until next time, enjoy the ride in good health!

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Laurie Edwards-Tate
Laurie Edwards-Tate, MS, President and Founder of At Your Home Familycare in San Diego, California, was among the first to recognize the growing need for services allowing individuals to remain independent created by the aging of America including the Baby Boomer generation, now being called the “Silver Tsunami.” It is the Baby Boomers who are rapidly redefining what aging and growing older means and looks like in America today. Now celebrating its 28th year in business, AYHF is among San Diego County’s Top Women-Owned Businesses and Fastest Growing Businesses, and enjoys a reputation for upholding the highest possible standards among its employees and its emphasis on customer service. Edwards-Tate is a valued contributor to the public dialogue on current issues and challenges in the home care industry, and serves in leadership roles on the Home Care Aide Association of America Advisory Board and Private Duty Home Care Association Advisory Board, as well as the Home Care Aide Steering Committee of the California Association for Health Services at Home. Edwards-Tate is frequently interviewed in the media on healthy aging, caregiving, and health care topics. Follow Laurie and AYHF at; on Facebook at, and Twitter at @AYHFamilycare