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Now that Hurricane Dorian has passed, many people will look back on what can be done differently in the future to prepare for storms. Dorian delivered a glancing blow to North Carolina, and many people benefited from the hard-won lessons learned in recent years from Hurricanes Matthew and Florence.
At NC Health News, we tracked how Dorian was affecting the state throughout the day that the storm was passing through with this story that featured running updates: Keep up with how Hurricane Dorian is affecting health in NC
The post included links to state websites and resources, information on how to access mental health, shelter and even pet shelter services, as well as information about protecting wells, how to access telehealth services and what to do in case of a tornado or flash flood and more.
We also visited a shelter being established by the state to house people with medical needs who may have needed to evacuate their homes. This story, People with special medical needs fleeing Hurricane Dorian might end up at a Clayton church, documented how the state learned lessons from last year’s Hurricane Florence that influenced how and where these medical shelters were established.
State and local officials learned other lessons, too, from recent hurricanes, including the best ways to prepare older people to weather the storm: Matthew & Florence taught NC lessons: Storms like Dorian threaten old people
These lessons are vital: after Florence, fully two-thirds of the 39 people who died in the wake of that storm were over the age of 65.
Readers may remember we did a story on the health center on Ocracoke earlier this summer. In doing that story, we met many people there. So, when news reports broke about flooding on the island, we called our contacts on the island and asked how we could help.
This story, Hurricane Dorian’s foray up NC’s Outer Banks leaves many stranded, floods islands was the result, jointly published between NC Health News and the Ocracoke Observer. Ocracoke Observer co-publisher Peter Vankevich even gave us login credentials so that we could post the story to their site, as they were without power and internet.
Brunswick County farmer Jody Clemmons has had two crops ruined in the past three growing seasons and spoke to our reporter Greg Barnes on the toll repeated disasters were taking on his finances and spirit.
Then came Dorian.
Clemmons prepared as best he could. After the storm passed, we called Clemmons to see how he fared.
Repeated hurricanes have been challenging for many people in southeastern North Carolina. Greg Barnes interviewed several women in Robeson County who were waiting for relief from losses during 2016’s Hurricane Matthew when Hurricane Florence struck.
According to the head of the Robeson County Disaster Recovery Coalition, the coalition has assisted about 11,000 people since Hurricane Florence, some of whom are still waiting to get back into their homes after Matthew.
A study being led by researchers at East Carolina University and UNC-Pembroke is tracking 261 hurricane victims in four counties — Robeson, Scotland, Columbus and Bladen — to gauge their emotional, physical and mental health months after Hurricane Florence.
Study leaders said the results will be used to try to understand the causes of hurricane victims losing the ability to function normally long after the storm has passed and to develop interventions to keep that from happening after the next storm hits. They plan to present their findings in hard-hit communities in the hopes that the information will help those residents and bring in more resources.
According to data from the study, 73 percent of participants reported mold damage, 46 percent were out of work for two or more weeks, 67 percent developed a new or worsened mental health condition, and 22 percent developed a health condition caused by exposure to mold or contamination. A quarter of children in the survey recorded a new or worsening mental health condition.
We updated this story from last year with resources on how to find free and reduced-cost telehealth services in the wake of Dorian.
And from our colleagues at Coastal Review Online comes this cautionary tale of how floodwaters can contain some nasty stuff.
It’s a lesson NC Health News editor Rose Hoban learned in the wake of Hurricane Florence last year, when she needed to get a tetanus shot after getting cut while cleaning up after local flooding on her property