Hidden dangers lurking in flood-damaged homes

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – The Pitt County Health Department wants to remind everyone of the dangers lurking in the mess that Hurricane Matthew left behind while cleaning up flood ravaged homes.

Many homes were without power for days. So most already know, when it comes to food, you should throw everything out, including those non-perishable items.

Many of those potentially deadly dangers can be hidden, especially after days of being soaked in nasty water.

“One of the hidden dangers in flood water is live electrical wires,” said Dr. John Morrow. “And rubber boots and rubber gloves don’t really protect you well from that.”

Pitt County Health Director Dr. John Morrow explained how all those appliances left behind in houses can still pose a deadly threat after being soaked in flood waters. He said safety first should always be your main concern before starting the clean-up process.

“Make sure your area is safe to go in,” he added. “Talk to your local officials to make sure the power is safe and those waters are even safe to wade in before you go in.”

Dangers persist, not only in the obvious mold and mildew you that you can spot with your eyes.

“Drywall, once it’s wet,” said Morrow. “You can’t get it dry enough to prevent mold. A lot of upholstery, stuffed animals, all those things are probably gonna have to be thrown out to get rid of the mold.”

And in the air, the dangers are lurking there too.

“They’re trying to use powered equipment, gasoline-powered equipment, like pressure washers or generators,” Morrow said. “Even charcoal grills. People are maybe trying to provide warmth or do cooking. Any of those things can cause carbon monoxide exposure.”

Then, those pesky critters and animals; dead and alive

“And fire ants are coming out of the ground and they’re floating in the balls and people are getting bites,” explained Morrow. “Most of the dead animals, you can just dispose of in the trash squirrels or something like that.”

But if there’s a larger animal like a deer in your yard or the roadways, Morrow said to contact the emergency operations center and they’ll come out to remove it.

Dr. Morrow said tgere shouldn’t be any reason to worry about infectious disease. However, contamination is possible around septic tanks. And keep children away from all of the damage and water.