Ten inches of rain in a very short period Thursday has resulted in the worst flooding West Virginia has seen in four decades and ‘among the worst in a century for some parts of the state’. This has tragically resulted in at least two dozen deaths as of Saturday.
On Thursday, West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin declared a State of Emergency for 44 of the 55 counties.
In addition, President Obama signed a disaster declaration for West Virginia and ordered Federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area affected by severe storms, flooding, landslides, and mudslides.
The President’s action makes federal funding available to affected individuals in the counties of Greenbrier, Kanawha, and Nicholas.
West Virginia health officials have offered health advice for citizens for post flood clean-up. The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Bureau for Public Health is reminding residents to check their immunization status to ensure they are protected against tetanus, in addition to protecting existing wounds from infection.
“Tetanus is a disease contracted by getting the tetanus bacteria into an open cut or wound,” said Dr. Rahul Gupta, State Health Officer and Commissioner for the Bureau for Public Health. “Although tetanus is rare, it can be very serious or even fatal.”
In addition to immunization, it is important to remember that open wounds and rashes exposed to flood waters can become infected. To protect yourself and your family: Avoid exposure to flood waters if you have an open wound, cover open wounds with a waterproof bandage, keep open wounds as clean as possible by washing well with soap and clean water and if a wound develops redness, swelling, or drainage, seek immediate medical attention.
In addition, health officials offered food safety advice when using food following power outages or after being exposed to flood waters.
“It is important for residents who lost electrical power and were without a back-up generator to dispose of any perishable food items to help eliminate the possibility of food contamination,” said Dr. Rahul Gupta, State Health Officer and Commissioner for the Bureau for Public Health. “The use of potentially contaminated food, household products, medicines and cosmetics that have been exposed to flood waters may pose a threat to your health.”
The following may serve as a guide for food supply that has been exposed to flood water: All fresh fruits and vegetables, including home garden produce, should be destroyed; foods such as cereals, bakery goods, dried fruits, flour, frozen foods, sugar, salt and similar foods in paper or plastic containers or wrapping should be destroyed and all meats, including fresh, dried, frozen and home canned should be destroyed.