Shows Hurricane Dorian in the Atlantic Ocean as it approaches North Carolina
Hurricane Dorian churns its way toward North Carolina on the afternoon of Wednesday, Sept. 4. Credit: NASA, NOAA

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.

Hurricane Florence left destruction but also information on how to prepare for and respond to the next disaster

shows a fuzzy guinea pig looking at the camera, a water bowl is nearby. The animal is housed at a Dorian shelter.
Kiss, a Guinea pig, is being housed at the Durham megashelter in the old Sears building at Northgate Mall. Photo credit: Anne Blythe

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.

Shows two men in a motor boat, powering down a flooded road, a house is visible to the left. The road is flooded in the wake of Dorian
Fire Chief Albert O’Neal, as he went by, said he had been rescuing people all Friday morning. Ocracoke Observer editor Connie Leinbach took this photo on her street, just after speaking to NC Health News editor Rose Hoban.

For one Brunswick County farmer, it feels like hurricanes “have become the new norm”

shows a man standing in front of a tobacco field. He's got a farmer's cap on and he's waiting for Hurricane Dorian
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

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.



Robeson County residents still reeling from two prior hurricanes

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.

an older woman and a teenaged girl sit in chairs in front of a sign that says, "Long Term Disaster Recovery"
Ernestine Pierce and her 12-year-old granddaughter discuss the effects of living through two hurricanes. Pierce said a tree crashed through the roof of her Rowland home during Hurricane Matthew. She lost her job shortly afterward and still becomes scared anytime a storm approaches. Many people report emotional, mental and physical health effects after a hurricane. Photo credit: Greg Barnes

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.

Flooded in and sick during Dorian? Talk to a doc on the phone or online for free

We updated this story from last year with resources on how to find free and reduced-cost telehealth services in the wake of Dorian.

shows a woman grimacing as she gets a shot in the left arm
Getting a shot hurts for a minute, but tetanus can kill you. Photo credit: Rebecca Tobin, MD

Vibrio survivor, wife warn of bacteria’s risks

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