Tag Archives: recovery

From Other Blogs: Hurricane season, National Safety Month, pork and swine market reports & more

A collection of health and environmental posts from other governmental blogs.

Preparing Emergency Managers for Hurricane Season

The 2017 hurricane season will be remembered for the extreme devastation it caused in Texas, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and Florida as well as our neighbors in the Caribbean.  While long-term recovery efforts continue, plans have been readied for the  2018 hurricane season.  No one knows how the United States will be affected by hurricanes this year, so plans must be prepared with the possibility that your community will be impacted.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency with federal partners, such as the National Weather Service/National Hurricane Center and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, alongside state, county, and city emergency managers, have been working diligently to prepare for hurricane season.  This is done through training and outreach events coordinated by FEMA’s National Hurricane Program.  The program’s mission is to provide technical assistance to emergency managers and federal government partners for hurricane preparedness training, response and evacuation planning, and operational decision support. — From the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) blog

Make One Change for Safety this National Safety Month

June is National Safety Month, an opportunity to help prevent unnecessary injuries and deaths at work, on the roads, and in our homes and communities. With this year’s theme, No 1 Gets Hurt, we are encouraging readers to think of at least one change you can make to improve safety this month. This joint blog from NIOSH and the National Safety Council (NSC) highlights the weekly themes of emergency preparedness, wellness, falls and driving. Help us spread the word about National Safety Month to your family, friends and co-workers. Use the information below, download and share free materials from the NSC website, and visit the NIOSH website to help ensure that No 1 Gets Hurt. — From the CDC’s NIOSH Science blog

Knowledge is Power with New Users Guides for Pork and Swine Market Reports

The smell of pork barbeque fills the country air – must be time for the summer grilling season! Before pork makes its way into the store and onto your grill, complex transactions occur between producers, packers, retailers, and foodservice providers. To ensure market transparency, USDA’s Livestock Mandatory Reporting Program (LMR) provides the U.S. pork industry the market intelligence they need to competitively buy and sell pork.

LMR provides price and volume data covering about 97 percent of the swine industry and 87 percent of wholesale pork sales. LMR reports provide a wealth of information, but they can be complex. To help the pork industry navigate LMR and how pork is priced, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) created three user’s guides that provide insight into understanding the information available through our market reports. – From the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) blog

5 Communication Lessons Learned from Hurricane Maria

When Category 4 Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, CDC assembled a team of experienced communicators who were flexible, bilingual, and culturally sensitive communicators. This group of experts prepared to deploy to Puerto Rico on short notice to support the communication needs of the Puerto Rico Health Department. I was asked to lead content development, and as a native Puerto Rican I did not hesitate to go home and help in any way I could.

I was part of the first team of four health communications specialists who arrived on the island just three weeks after the hurricane. We knew our job was not going to be easy— severe electrical power outage meant that residents had no access to internet, social media, or television. Antennas had fallen during the storm, so there was very limited radio coverage and almost no cell phone connectivity. Large billboards were literally on the ground and newspapers were not circulating widely because there was no way to publish and transport them for delivery. — From the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Public Health Matters blog

Building a Resilient Nation

My first day on the job at FEMA was the day Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico. Since then I’ve seen firsthand the tireless efforts of FEMA’s dedicated workforce in supporting disaster survivors from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, the catastrophic California wildfires, and dozens of other disasters around the nation.

As we moved from immediate response and recovery to long term recovery, we reflected on the lessons from the 2017 disasters. In doing so, we contemplated not only how to increase our readiness for catastrophic disasters, but also how best to reduce impacts from future disasters. We soon realized that we needed to shift the way we as a nation think about disasters, so that together, we can be better prepared in the future.

As a result of our months-long after action review, we recently released our 2018-2022 Strategic Plan. Goal 1 is to Build a Culture of Preparedness. — From the FEMA blog

Death of Bald Eagle Yields Life Lessons for West Virginia Students

Most educators agree that experiential learning makes a more lasting impression on students than classroom lectures. It’s the reason why Cindy Bryant and Greg Phillips, both teachers from Robert C. Byrd High School in Clarksburg, WV, put in the hard work to organize an overnight field trip for their students. The two educators never imagined it would be something they, and their students, would never forget.

On a cold night last November, a group of 10th grade biology students were on a bus, heading home to Clarksburg. For two days, they had hiked, observed wildlife and conducted their first stream study at Experience Learning, a center near Spruce Knob in the Monongahela National Forest. Sitting at the front of the bus, Cindy, who is also a biologist, noticed a large object in the road ahead.

As the bus got closer, she knew immediately it was a bald eagle—and it was blocking the way. Standing more than 2 ½ feet tall, the eagle did not respond when she and Greg tried to shoo it out of harm’s way. Seeing no other option, they decided to rescue it in the hopes of connecting with a wildlife rescue organization. – From the USDA blog

DHEC in the News: mass trauma triage kits, Folly Beach Irma recovery

Here’s a look at health and environmental news from around South Carolina.

Upstate firefighters equipped with color-coded triage kits for mass trauma situations

GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) – As a firefighter and EMT, Chris Hearn has seen a lot.

“When you’re actually doing it, I guess adrenaline kicks in and you don’t think about it,” Chris Hearn said.

He’s a firefighter with the Boiling Springs Fire Department in Greenville County and has worn the uniform for more than 20 years.

“It just comes natural,” he said.

He hopes a day like the chaos and mass shooting in Las Vegas never happens in the Upstate. However, if it does he and other firefighters are ready.

General Interest

Winds, waves cause new erosion at Folly Beach as city works on Irma recovery

FOLLY BEACH — New erosion has added to the island’s post-storm woes.

The beach near the pier has “scarping.” It drops o a foot or more close to the sea. Three days of steady northeast winds and strong surf played a role.

“Any setback right now is bigger than it would be otherwise just because of what we just went through,” said Mayor Tim Goodwin.

Tropical Storm Irma caused severe erosion when it hit in mid-September. Dunes from the east to the west end of the island were reduced or destroyed. Goodwin said the beach loss was worse than from Hurricane Matthew a year ago.

Emotional Health After the Floods

By DHEC Communications Staff

emotional health

After a traumatic event, emotional and physical reactions are different for each person.  It is typical to react to a stressful event with increased anxiety, worry and anger.  Americans consistently demonstrate remarkable resilience in the aftermath of disasters and other traumatic events.

Connect with Friends and Family

Check in with family members and friends to find out how they are coping. Feeling stressed, sad, and upset are common reactions to life changing events. Recognize and pay attention to early warning signs of more serious distress. Your children, like you, will have reactions to this difficult situation; they too may feel fearful, angry, sad, worried, and confused. Children will benefit from your talking with them on their level about what is happening, to get your reassurance, and to let them know that you and they will be okay and that you will all get through this together.

Take Care of Yourself and Each Other

Getting support from others, taking care of yourself by eating right, getting enough sleep, avoiding alcohol and drugs and getting some exercise can help to manage and alleviate stress.

When to Seek Help

Depending on the situation, some people may feel depressed, experience grief and anger, turn to alcohol or drugs and even think about hurting themselves or others. The signs of serious problems include:

  • excessive worry
  • crying frequently
  • an increase in irritability, anger, and frequent arguing
  • wanting to be alone most of the time
  • feeling anxious or fearful, overwhelmed by sadness, confused
  • having trouble thinking clearly and concentrating, and difficulty making decisions
  • increased alcohol and/or substance use
  • increased physical (aches, pains) complaints such as headaches
  • trouble with your “nerves”

If these signs and symptoms continue and interfere with daily functioning, it is important to seek help for yourself or a loved one.

Find Help

If you or someone you care about needs help, you should contact your health care provider to get connected with trained and caring professionals.  The number for the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration’s Disaster Distress Hotline is 1-800-985-5990, and it’s staffed 24 hours a day.  It is important to seek professional help if you need it.  For more information, please click here.

Have a Septic Tank and Not Sure What To Do After Flooding?

By DHEC Communications Staff
septic tank 1Whenever the water table is high or your sewage system is threatened by flooding, there is a risk that sewage will back up into your home. The only way to prevent this backup is to relieve pressure on the system by using it less.

Do I pump my tank during flooded or saturated drainfield conditions?

No! At best, pumping the tank is only a temporary solution. Under worst conditions, pumping it out could cause the tank to try to float out of the ground and may damage the inlet and outlet pipes. The best solution is to plug all drains in the basement and drastically reduce water use in the house.

What are some suggestions offered by experts for homeowners with flooded septic systems?

  • Locate any electrical or mechanical devices the system may have that could be flooded to avoid contact with them until they are dry and clean.
  • Do not dig into the tank or drainfield area while the soil is still wet or flooded. Try to avoid any work on or around the disposal field with heavy machinery while the soil is still wet. These activities will ruin the soil conductivity.
  • Prevent silt from entering septic systems that have pump chambers. When the pump chambers are flooded, silt has a tendency to settle in the chambers and will clog the drainfield if it is not removed.
  • Use common sense. If possible, don’t use the system if the soil is saturated and flooded. The wastewater will not be treated and will become a source of pollution. Conserve water as much as possible while the system restores itself and the water table falls.
  • Do not open the septic tank for pumping while the soil is still saturated. Mud and silt may enter the tank and end up in the drainfield. Furthermore, pumping out a tank that is in saturated soil may cause it to “pop out” of the ground. (Likewise, recently installed systems may “pop out” of the ground more readily than older systems because the soil has not had enough time to settle and compact.)
  • Flooding of the septic tank will have lifted the floating crust of fats and grease in the septic tank. Some of this scum may have floated and/or partially plugged the outlet tee. If the septic system backs up into the house check the tank first for outlet blockage. Clean up any floodwater in the house without dumping it into the sink or toilet and allow enough time for the water to recede. Floodwaters from the house that are passed through or pumped through the septic tank will cause higher flows through the system. This may cause solids to transfer from the septic tank to the drainfield and will cause clogging.
  • Aerobic plants, upflow filters, trickling filters, and other media filters have a tendency to clog due to mud and sediment. These systems will need to be washed and raked.

What if my septic system has been used to dispose wastewater from my business (either a home-based or small business)?

In addition to raw sewage, small businesses may use their septic system to dispose of wastewater containing chemicals. If your septic system that receives chemicals backs up into a basement or drainfield, take extra precautions to prevent skin, eye and inhalation contact. The proper clean-up depends of what chemicals are found in the wastewater. Contact DHEC or EPA for specific clean-up information.

What do I do with my septic system after the flood?

If your septic tank has overflowed, visible solids should be disinfected with lime and cleaned up.  Be sure to wash your hands throughly when finished.

Once floodwaters have receded, there are several things homeowners should remember:

  • Boil water before drinking until you have disinfected and tested your well.  Contact DHEC.
  • Do not use the sewage system until water in the soil absorption field is lower than the water level around the house.
  • Have your septic tank professionally inspected and serviced if you suspect damage. Signs of damage include settling or an inability to accept water. Most septic tanks are not damaged by flooding since they are below ground and completely covered. However, septic tanks and pump chambers can fill with silt and debris, and must be professionally cleaned. If the soil absorption field is clogged with silt, a new system may have to be installed.
  • Only trained specialists should clean or repair septic tanks because tanks may contain dangerous gases. Contact DHEC for a list of septic system contractors who work in your area.
  • If sewage has backed up into the basement, clean the area and disinfect the floor. Use a chlorine solution of a half cup of chlorine bleach to each gallon of water to disinfect the area thoroughly.
  • Pump the septic system as soon as possible after the flood. Be sure to pump both the tank and lift station. This will remove silt and debris that may have washed into the system. Do not pump the tank during flooded or saturated drainfield conditions. At best, pumping the tank is only a temporary solution. Under worst conditions, pumping it out could cause the tank to try to float out of the ground and may damage the inlet and outlet pipes.
  • Do not compact the soil over the soil absorption field by driving or operating equipment in the area. Saturated soil is especially susceptible to compaction, which can reduce the soil absorption field’s ability to treat wastewater and lead to system failure.
  • Examine all electrical connections for damage before restoring electricity.
  • Be sure the septic tank’s manhole cover is secure and that inspection ports have not been blocked or damaged.
  • Check the vegetation over your septic tank and soil absorption field. Repair erosion damage and sod or reseed areas as necessary to provide turf grass cover.

Click here to find your local DHEC Environment office.  Additional resources may be found on the EPA’s website or CDC’s website.

 

Communicable Diseases and Floods

By DHEC Communications Staff

septic tank

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control reminds all storm-affected residents that a tetanus vaccination is recommended if it’s been 10 years or more since your last tetanus vaccination or you have experienced an injury and your shot is more than five years old.  For those who require a tetanus vaccination, there will be no-cost Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) vaccination clinics this weekend.  For information about locations, please click here.

Outbreaks of communicable diseases after floods are unusual. However, the rates of diseases that were present before a flood may increase because of decreased sanitation or overcrowding among displaced persons. Increases in infectious diseases that were not present in the community before the flood are not usually a problem. It is important to follow proper hygiene and clean-up processes.

The process of cleaning up and rebuilding from natural disasters like a flood can lead to injuries. For this reason, anyone who is working to clean up after this event should be sure that they are up-to-date with tetanus vaccination, ideally before starting cleanup activities.

First aid, even for minor cuts and burns, is very important during flood clean-up. If possible, immediately clean all wounds and cuts with soap and clean water.  If you receive a puncture wound or any wound that could be contaminated and you are not up to date on tetanus vaccine, seek medical attention from a doctor or other health care professional.  A health care provider will determine if you need additional preventive treatments, including tetanus vaccine.  Your local DHEC health department can also provide the tetanus vaccine as prevention, but if you need medical attention for a wound, you should seek care from a health care provider, urgent care or emergency department.

For more information, please visit the CDC website.