When floods hit, your first thought should be to get to a safe area. After the flood waters recede, however, there may be dangers that you do not anticipate. Thinking through these dangers ahead of time allows you to be better prepared to handle them if you experience a flood.
There can be many unexpected health problems following a flood. In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, researchers organized by the New York Times found the E. coli count inside some Houston-area homes to be 135 times higher than normal. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, five people died and 22 lost limbs because of Vibrio bacteria present after the flood waters receded.
Flood waters can have a catastrophic effect on wildlife habitat. Therefore, it is not unusual to see wildlife in unexpected places after flood waters recede. Snakes may seek shelter in trees, vehicles and other areas of higher ground during the flood and attack people returning after the flood subsides. Bats are a real problem after some floods as many carry rabies. Other frightened animals may be more prone to attack than they were before the flood. You may even notice changes in your own family’s pets making them more apt to snap.
Many vehicles are damaged by floods. Cars often have damaged mechanical and electrical systems when they are left under water. The liquid often causes metal parts on vehicles to rust out. Mud often builds up in parts of the car holding sensitive computers. As in homes, mold can be a real issue after a flood. According to Clunker Junker, an estimated half a million vehicles were junked due to flooding in Houston. Vehicle damage from a flood may not even appear for three to six months.
While it took a while for samples to start showing it, soil samples taken after Hurricane Katrina show that 61 percent of homes experienced an increase in the level of lead in them. Research suggests that it was not until reconstruction work began that lead levels began to rise with homes being built before 1946 showed the highest lead levels. The lead was found in many different areas of homes, including in the soil outside and on windowsills.
Commercial industries often use chemicals that require special protective clothing to be worn when using them and unique storage techniques. However, when these facilities become damaged, those toxins can become mixed with the flood waters and enter the city’s water and sewer system. Additionally, according to NPR, toxic waste sites can be damaged by flooding causing those toxins to be released into the environment. These toxins may be released days or even weeks after the flood as weak parts in the structure give way.
There are many post-flood challenges that you may not anticipate until you have lived through a flood. If you are going through one now, then remember that working together through the experience will make them emotionally stronger in the aftermath.
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