shows the night view of the east coast with a large cyclone cloud almost parallel to southern North Carolina
Hurricane Dorian, Thursday evening, Sept 5, 2019

Are you a health care worker? We’d love to hear from you. Email editor at northcarolinahealthnews.org

By Greg Barnes, Anne Blythe, Yen Duong, Thomas Goldsmith, Rose Hoban

4:45 p.m.- Follow-up story posted with farmer

4:45 p.m.- Follow-up story posted with farmer

“I’m not complaining, but maybe it’s time for me to do something else,” said

Jody Clemmons stands in front of his tobacco field near Supply in Brunswick County. Clemmons lost his entire crop during Hurricane Florence. Photo credit: Jody Clemmons

farmer Jody Clemmons in this story, a preliminary look at the effects of Dorian on N.C. farmers: Hurricane Dorian thrashes farmer’s tobacco crop.

The first story from yesterday morning: For one Brunswick County farmer, it feels like hurricanes have become “the new norm.”

3:45 p.m.-Story posted on Ocracoke

Gov. Cooper said as many as 800 people might be stranded on Ocracoke

Friday morning brought the unusual sight of motorboats plying the back roads of Ocracoke. Here, fire chief Albert O’Neal runs the stop sign at the intersection of Sunset and Friendly Ridge Roads. Photo credit: Connie Leinbach.

Island. Some of them are from the Ocracoke Observer and described the situation. Hurricane Dorian’s foray up NC’s Outer Banks leaves many stranded, floods islands. Just last month we published a story on Ocracoke Health Center, perhaps North Carolina’s most remote clinic.

3:00 p.m.-Story posted on telehealth options

North Carolinians have ten different options to receive free telehealth visits via phone, tablet or computer during Dorian. Most providers usually charge $49 per visit, but those fees are waived with coupon codes. Flooded in and sick during Dorian? Talk to a doc on the phone or online for free.

10:00 a.m. Friday, Sept. 6 – Stories posted on deadly bacteria, Robeson County, evacuation of long-term care residents

Spending only a few minutes in brackish floodwaters can be deadly, if those cleaning up have an open wound or cut. Vibrio vulnificus bacteria kill one in five people who get infected, per the CDC. A survivor from an infection during Florence wants to warn others before they start heading out after Dorian. Vibrio survivor, wife warn of bacteria’s risks. For more background, see this story from last year on studying vibrio after Florence, in which a researcher says: “Say they cut themselves on a rock, or they poke their finger while baiting a hook or something like that and some of the salt water gets in there. The bacteria can then get into that wound and cause a life-threatening infection.”

Kerigahn Jacobs, 17, Teen Miss Lumbee for 2018, worked at a shelter in Lumberton for people displaced by Hurricane Florence. Photo credit: Thomas Goldsmith

Parts of Robeson County are still recovering from Hurricane Matthew, which hit three years ago, much less Florence and now Dorian. After Florence, the Robeson County Disaster Recovery Coalition formed to help residents, but with a lack of affordable housing to move into, people are still experiencing mental and physical effects of living in unsafe conditions in their un-repaired homes. Robeson County residents still reeling from two prior hurricanes. A story from last year delves into how faith, neighbors and FEMA helped recovery efforts in Robeson County after Florence.

As of last night, over 380 long-term care residents have been evacuated toward safer ground from Dorian. Some went to the specialized medical care shelter in Clayton. This story connects with yesterday’s on how older people are more vulnerable during natural disasters, and a Florence story on whether to evacuate long-term care residents or not.

 

7:30 p.m. – Tornadoes predicted as Dorian’s eye approaches

As Hurricane Dorian approaches, tornadoes are becoming more prevalent in eastern North Carolina. During his afternoon briefing, Gov. Roy Cooper said that some tornadoes have already been reported.

The National Weather Service has a website explaining the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning, and what to do to keep safe should a tornado head your way.  https://www.weather.gov/bmx/sps_torsafetyrules

In the event of a tornado:

  • In general, get as low as you can. A basement below ground level or the lowest floor of a building offers the greatest safety. Put as many walls between yourself and the outside as possible. Avoid windows at all cost!
  • Tornadoes could be obscured by rainfall or come at nighttime. Do not wait until you see or hear the tornado, it may be too late.
  • Do not waste time opening or closing windows and doors. It will not protect the structure. You will only waste time and put yourself and others in greater risk. Use those valuable seconds to find a place of safety.
  • In homes or public buildings: go to the basement or a small interior room, such as a closet, bathroom or an interior hall on the lowest level. Close all doors to the hallway for greater protection. If possible, get under something sturdy like a heavy table. Protect yourself from flying debris with pillows, heavy coats, blankets or quilts. Use bicycle or motorcycle helmets to protect your head.
  • In mobile homes: leave well in advance of the approaching severe weather and go to a strong building. If there is no shelter nearby, get into the nearest ditch, low spot or underground culvert. Lie flat, covering your head with your hands for protection.
  • In vehicles or outdoors: when tornadoes are possible, limit your outdoor plans or finish them early. Stay close to a sturdy shelter. If caught outside, find shelter in a ditch or remain in your vehicle and cover your head for protection.

6:15 p.m. – Flash flooding affecting coastal counties

The National Weather Service in Wilmington has issued a flash flood watch until Friday morning for coastal communities and inland as far as Bladen, Columbus, Robeson and Pender Counties, as some of the heaviest rain bands from Hurricane Dorian douse the area. Some communities along the Cape Fear River basin are reporting isolated areas of flooding and the NC Flood Inundation and Mapping Alert Network shows some river and stream levels are rising. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security provides directions on what to do and how to keep safe during a flash flood. Go to: https://www.ready.gov/floods

Screenshot of stream gage readings near Wilmington, around 6:00 p.m. on Sept. 5.

When a flash flood strikes, DHS recommends to:

  • Depending on where you are, and the impact and the warning time of flooding, go to the safe location that you previously identified.
  • If told to evacuate, do so immediately. Never drive around barricades. Local responders use them to safely direct traffic out of flooded areas.
  • Listen to EAS, NOAA Weather Radio, or local alerting systems for current emergency information and instructions.
  • Do not walk, swim, or drive through flood waters. Turn Around. Don’t Drown!
  • Stay off bridges over fast-moving water. Fast-moving water can wash bridges away without warning.
  • If your vehicle is trapped in rapidly moving water, then stay inside. If water is rising inside the vehicle, then seek refuge on the roof.
  • If trapped in a building, then go to its highest level. Do not climb into a closed attic. You may become trapped by rising floodwater. Go on the roof only if necessary. Once there, signal for help.

3:45 p.m. – Durham megashelter can house pets

Sometimes people in the path of a destructive storm are loathe to evacuate from their homes if they have pets.

“Pets can be very important to families,” Gov. Roy Cooper said Thursday while touring a megashelter set up in an old Sears store at Northgate Mall in Durham. “We know families who will try to go back in and risk their lives for pets.”

Gov. Roy Cooper talks with Melissa Wooten, a Durham resident who came to the Durham megashelter because she doesn’t have a car and was worried about storm reports. She has had Shawn, her service dog, for a year and a half. The Durham megashelter is set up to house pets. Photo credit: Anne Blythe

The megashelter set up in Durham to house as many as 1,000 people if necessary, also has space for pets.

Kiss, a Guinea pig, is being housed at the Durham megashelter in the old Sears building at Northgate Mall. Photo credit: Anne Blythe

Inside a temporary animal shelter set up outside the old Sears store at Northgate Mall, where nearly two dozen people were seeking shelter, a Guilford County animal control officer kept watch over a few dogs, kittens and a guinea pig named Kiss that came inland from the storm path.

“It can be a great psychological boost for people to have their pets with them,” Cooper said.

One of the lessons that state officials have learned from Hurricane Florence relief and recovery efforts is that evacuees are often looking for pet-friendly shelter.

The American Red Cross offers these tips to include pets in disaster plans:

Here are five things to consider:

  • Kittens housed at the megashelter in Durham, which is equipped to shelter evacuees with pets. Photo credit: Anne Blythe

    If you plan to shelter at a hotel or motel, know which ones along your evacuation route accept pets in an emergency. Call ahead for reservations if there is time. Most Red Cross shelters cannot accept pets because of health and safety concerns and other considerations, but service animals are allowed in Red Cross shelters.

  • Prepare a list of friends, relatives, boarding facilities, animal shelters and veterinarians who can care for pets in an emergency.
  • Make sure that your pet is up to date on vaccinations and that all dogs and cats are wearing collars with securely fastened, up-to-date identification. Many pet shelters require proof of current vaccinations to reduce the spread of disease.

1:45 p.m. – Emotional shelter from the storm

The federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has a website offering warning signs, risk factors, coping tips and places to go to for help. Go to: https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/disaster-distress-helpline/disaster-types/hurricanes

Anyone can be at risk for emotional distress during intense storms, including:

  • Children and teens. After a hurricane, young people may worry that another tropical storm will happen again. They may become overly dependent, have trouble eating and sleeping, or show physical symptoms such as stomachaches and headaches.
  • Image courtesy: Jadoonrose, Wikimedia Creative Commons

    Older adults. Older adults are more likely to need social support to reduce the effects of stress and move forward on the path of recovery. Some older adults may also be dealing with the loss of physical capabilities and possibly independence.

  • First responders and recovery workers. These individuals may experience prolonged separation from loved ones (depending on the severity of the storm or hurricane) and show signs of mental fatigue.

Once warnings and evacuation orders are issued, the risk for emotional distress becomes greater:

  • You may feel unprepared, isolated, overwhelmed, or confused. Uncertainty about where to go during a hurricane, how to keep your pets safe, or whether you will be able to continue taking any medications can cause emotional distress.
  • You may lose contact with a loved one in an impacted area due to power and Internet outages.
  • You may experience difficult memories and emotions associated with similar traumatic experiences in the past.
  • If you are relocated, being in an unfamiliar environment can be difficult, especially for people with limited physical mobility, economic means, or knowledge of the English language.

1:30 p.m. – Shelter for the medically fragile

The state has set up 60 beds for the medically fragile in a shelter at C3 Church in Clayton. Photo credit: Anne Blythe

A State Medical Support Shelter (SMSS) has opened at C3 Church in Clayton for medically fragile patients. People who need active monitoring, management or intervention from a medical professional to maintain their health must contact their county emergency management office to request placement in the 50-bed facility.

Check out our story here.

12:30 p.m. – How people with mental illness can find help

North Carolinians who need or who are already receiving behavioral health care, or are on Medicaid, can get treatment by calling their usual provider in the network created by their local management entities/managed care organizations (LME/MCO). Those without a provider can consult a directory of LME-MCOs, listing counties covered, at www.ncdhhs.gov/providers/lme-mco-directory

12:25 p.m. – Cooper: ‘This won’t be a brush by’

Gov. Roy Cooper cautioned the state on Thursday morning of the dangers approaching as Hurricane Dorian moves closer to coastal North Carolina.

‘Hurricane Dorian is ready to unleash its fury on our state,’  Cooper said at a 10 a.m. news conference. “The message this morning is this: Get to safety and stay there.”

Gov. Roy Cooper speaks to the media during a briefing about Hurricane Dorian on the morning of Thursday, Sept. 5 Image courtesy: NC Dept of Public Safety Twitter feed

Cooper urged North Carolinians who’ve experienced their share of hurricanes in recent years not to let their guard down.

“This won’t be a brush-by,” Cooper said.

The coming storm has spawned tornadoes. Flash flooding is expected.

The governor urged people in eastern North Carolina to pay attention to local officials and implored drivers to turn around instead of driving through water pooled on roads.

“It only takes a few inches of waters to cause flash floods and to wash your vehicles off the road,” Cooper said.

The majority of deaths from hurricanes are from drownings, Cooper  said, repeating a safety phrase used often during such storms.

“Turn around don’t drown,” Cooper said.

However state emergency officials said they do not expect the extensive transportation problems experienced during Hurricane Florence.

The governor plans to hold another briefing at 4 p.m.

You can watch the livestream here.

12:10 p.m. – Early RX available for NC Medicaid recipients

People on Medicaid will be able to refill prescriptions early while the governor’s state of emergency during Hurricane Dorian remains in place. The refills are being allowed “to ensure that all NC Medicaid beneficiaries have access to necessary medications,” DHHS said Thursday morning.

12:05 p.m. – Protect yourself against carbon monoxide

State health officials caution people not to use gasoline-powered generators, outdoor grills and camp stoves in enclosed spaces.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas produced whenever fuel is burned. In an enclosed space, such as a home, garage, car or camper, carbon monoxide can build up to deadly levels quickly. Even low levels of carbon monoxide can cause dizziness, fatigue, nausea, headaches, confusion or fainting. If you are experiencing these symptoms, get to fresh air immediately and seek medical attention.

High levels of carbon monoxide can be deadly within minutes. Anyone testing or using a generator or other fuel-burning device during Hurricane Dorian should take proper safety precautions.

  • Do not use gasoline-powered tools or engines in enclosed or partially enclosed spaces. Use them outdoors, at least 20 feet from doors, windows and air vents.
  • Do not use charcoal grills or propane stoves indoors, even in a fireplace.
  • Never use the stove or other gas appliances to heat your home.
  • Do not idle your car, truck or other vehicle in the garage, even if the garage door to the outside is open. Fumes can build up quickly in the garage and living area of your home.
  • Keep rooms well ventilated.
  • Read and follow all instructions that accompany fuel-burning devices. Use the proper fuel and make sure there is enough air for ventilation and fuel burning.
  • Install and maintain a carbon monoxide alarm in your home.

If you experience symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, including dizziness, nausea, headaches, confusion or fainting, get to fresh air immediately and seek medical care.

For more information about carbon monoxide poisoning prevention visit http://epi.publichealth.nc.gov/oee/a_z/co.html.

12:00 noon – In an opioid treatment program? Know someone who is?

People in opioid treatment programs who are receiving prescription drugs may take home additional doses for treatment or receive guest-dosing at another licensed opioid treatment program, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services. The Central Registry offers a map of sites across the state.

Click on the photo to go to an interactive map of treatment resources. Image courtesy: The Central Registry/ screenshot

State health officials are working with shelters to establish calming rooms to support individuals with autism or other disabilities who might not find an open shelter setting conducive.

11:15 a.m. – State departments establish Dorian information websites

Department of Public Safety – Dorian information

The N.C. Department of Public Safety has created a website providing important information about staying safe during Hurricane Dorian. You’ll find timely information on open shelters, power outages, flood risks,  emergency contact numbers and road conditions. Visit: https://www.ncdps.gov/dorian2019

Department of Health and Human Services – Dorian information

The state Department of Health and Human Services has created a website providing the latest Hurricane Dorian information on shelters, where to go for behavioral health help, how to stay safe and protecting a private well from contamination. Go to https://www.ncdhhs.gov/assistance/disaster-preparation-and-recovery/hurricane-dorian-what-know

Click on the image to be directed to the DHHS Hurricane Dorian information website.

11:00 a.m. – Has Dorian triggered stress, mental anguish, substance abuse habits?

The state Department of Health and Human Services has compiled a list of resources for people who are suffering from the behavioral health effects of the storm.

If you are in need of, or are receiving, behavioral health care, or if you are uninsured or are a Medicaid beneficiary, care can be accessed through regional behavioral health Local Management Entity/Managed Care Organization (LME/MCO).

Crisis counseling is available at the Disaster Distress Helpline at  1-800-985-5990. Help is available throughout the year at any time and any day.

10:10 a.m. – Worried about storm surges?

Keep up with what’s happening on the National Hurricane Center’s storm surge page. CLICK HERE.

As of early Thursday, the National Hurricane Center was predicting storm surges and high water along the entire North Carolina Coast. For more information (you can zoom in on the map to find your area) Click here: NOAA/ NHC/ Storm Surge Watch/ Warning Graphic

9:40 a.m. – Preparing private wells to withstand floods

RALEIGH — State health officials have provided guidance on how to better prepare private wells in flood-prone areas ahead of Hurricane Dorian.

Among the recommendations:

  1. Store adequate bottled water for drinking and cooking. You won’t be able to drink, brush teeth or cook with well water until it is tested and found suitable.
  2. Fill up the pressure tank as much as possible.
  3. Turn off the electricity to the well.
  4. If you have an aerobic septic system, turn off the electricity for the system. No special preparations are recommended for conventional septic systems.
  5. If your wellhead does not have a watertight seal, clean off the well casing, cover with a heavy-duty trash bag and secure with waterproof tape.
  6. If you have the log or well report completed when the well was established, store a copy in a safe place that will be accessible if you evacuate.
Newport resident Glenn Skinner flushes his well which was submerged in the floodwaters of Hurricane Florence as the storm pushed ashore in Sept. 2018. Photo credit: Taylor Knopf

Excessive rains and flooding can cause water in your private well to become contaminated, meaning the water can cause adverse health effects if it is consumed or comes into contact with the skin. After Hurricane Florence in 2018, nearly 45 percent of wells tested by the State Public Health Lab were found to have bacterial contamination. More than 13 percent of these wells had detectable E. coli.

After a flood, the following steps can help ensure that your well is safe for use:

  1. Do not turn on the electricity to your pump until flood waters recede.
  2. If extensive flooding has occurred, do not drink the water. Use your water reserves and bottled water until your well water has been tested.
  3. Contact a driller if you think your well needs to be serviced. You can find a list of certified well contractors at http://www.ncwelldriller.org/web/eh/find-contractor.
  4. If you haven’t already, find a nearby water testing lab to obtain sample collection bottles and instructions for bacterial contamination. You cannot see, taste or smell bacterial contamination in your well. Often, your local health department can test your water.
  5. If you live near animal feeding operations, agricultural fields where pesticides are applied or industrial chemical factories, you should contact your local health department for additional testing, especially if you smell fuel or chemicals in your water.

If there is bacterial contamination, do not use contaminated water for drinking, cooking, making ice, bathing in any form or washing clothes or dishes. Use an alternative water source until bacteria is no longer detected in your water. Alternative sources include bottled water, a source you know isn’t contaminated or boiling your water for five minutes before use.

It is strongly recommended to call your local health department or licensed well driller to shock chlorinate the well if it has been flooded. A water well driller will have access to more effective products and will have equipment and experience that a typical well owner will not have.

For more information about well water and health, visit https://epi.dph.ncdhhs.gov/oee/programs/wellwater.html.

9:30 a.m. – Schedule changes at some VA facilities

In Morehead City Veterans Affairs community-based outpatient clinic is closed today and Friday.

Wilmington Health Care Center, Brunswick County and Jacksonville community-based outpatient clinics are also closed today and Friday. According to a press release from the VA, All veteran appointments will be rescheduled.

Fayetteville VA inland sites, Fayetteville VA main campus, Fayetteville Health Care Center and Goldsboro, Hamlet, Robeson County and Sanford community-based outpatient clinic are operating under normal schedules.

Raleigh, Durham and Greenville VA sites of care are also operating under normal business hours.

Veterans who have questions about prescription drugs, resource information, appointments or any other healthcare concerns may contact the facility’s main numbers or the Veteran Disaster Hotline at 800-507-4571.

VA employees affected by the storm can contact the Employee Disaster Response Line at 866-233-0152 to report their status if they are unable to contact their immediate supervisor.

For medication concerns, Veterans may contact the main facility or the National VA Pharmacy Customer Care Line at 1-866-400-1243.

9:00 a.m.- Stories on farmers and the elderly

This morning we published For one Brunswick County farmer, it feels like hurricanes “have become the new norm”, looking at the effects of repeated storms on a local farmer. For more background and follow up from last year, check out Mental Health Concerns as Florence Ruins Farms, Crops, Harvests and the three-month follow up story, As mental health needs rise among farmers, experts are reaching out.

We also published Matthew & Florence taught NC lessons: Storms like Dorian threaten old people. Please don’t drive on flooded roads. Organizations like Wake County’s Resources for Seniors have been checking in on older folks, and the N.C. Area Agencies on Aging have local resources for seniors. Tommy Goldsmith’s stories from last year remind us that almost half of Florence casualties were 70 or olderolder people have special needs in hurricanes and long-term care shelters think carefully about evacuations.

7:30 a.m. – Monitoring high water

Keep up with flooding information in your area in real time by checking out the North Carolina Flood Information Mapping and Alert Network.

Real time interactive maps show localized flooding, as reported by local stream and river gauges placed all around the state. Zoom in on the map to find gauges in your area, there are 382 of them placed in critical locations all over the state.

Multiple people died as a result of high water during Hurricane Florence, including people who were swept away by flash floods while in their vehicles.

According to AAA Carolinas: 

  • Avoid driving through flooded areas, even if you are familiar with the roads. The flooded area may contain dangers such as debris, tree branches or power lines that are not visible. The best thing you can do is turn around and find an alternate route.
  • Keep in mind that flash flooding can occur and that roads and bridges may be damaged.
  • To verify road conditions after a hurricane call: 511 in North Carolina and 888-877-9151 in South Carolina.

 

7:10 a.m. – Leave an encouraging message

Listen to Storm Stories, a series of podcasts about community resilience following Hurricane Florence at: http://stormstories.buzzsprout.com/

Want to send some encouragement to people affected by Hurricane Dorian? The folks at Working Narratives, a community-based social justice organization, have a request: Leave a voicemail message of hope to people affected by the storm.

Your message may become part of a podcast or broadcast in the Storm Stories series on iTunes and local radio.

Leave a Voicemail at (910) 604-6519.

Say simple words, sing a song, read a poem, send a prayer, pass on a comforting saying, send a message of resilience to coastal Carolina communities as Dorian heads their way.

According to Working Narratives head Nick Szuberla, “Just speak from the heart. Don’t worry if you make a mistake.”

Calls can be up to 3 minutes and may be edited.

Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under a Creative Commons license.

Editor

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