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Hurricanes Are a Potential Public Health Disaster

Hurricanes Are a Potential Public Health Disaster

Hurricanes bring with them a lot of water and that water volume is getting bigger. I don’t pretend to be a scientist but this is how modern-day hurricane characteristics have been explained to me: Warming oceans cause more evaporation, increasing the amount of water hurricanes absorb. Once the hurricane is over land, instead of pushing the hurricane along, the disorganized jet stream causes the hurricane to stall out over an area, dropping all that water onto a small space before being pushed out.

The resulting flooding can be catastrophic, not only to residential homes and businesses but to storage areas for all kinds of waste, waste that can enter public potable water sources. Water contamination is exacerbated by power outages that normally accompany a hurricane event. “There are a lot of concerns about environmental exposure, water quality and what happens to water treatment in the absence of power.”*

Especially affected are those living in rural areas where lack of electricity can cut off communication for extended periods, leaving people without potable water or the ability to request help.

In a world of ever-increasing storm intensities, infrastructure and communication planning are critical going forward. On a personal level, individuals and families need to consider how they are going to have access to drinkable water and plan, prepare and practice for an emergency we all hope will never come.