Flooding and recovery cause concerns about health and safety

WEKU-FM photo by Stu Johnson

“Maintaining good physical and mental health is top of mind for health officials in flood-devastated Eastern Kentucky,” reports Samantha Morrill of WEKU-FM. “Tetanus and hepatitis are major concerns after a flooding event.”

So says Scott Lockard, public health director at the Kentucky River District Health Department. He told Morrill that the agency has been administering vaccinations in the community and going door to door.

“We have partners, and we’ve done this ourselves, to get on ATVs and side by sides and go up hollers in our communities and people who have not been able to get out and get the care, they need to make sure that they’re getting vaccinations and getting, you know, the services that they need right there at their homes,” Lockard said.

He added that volunteers need to take care of their general health. Part of that includes properly treating cuts and scrapes: “They’re in the water or the mud, you know, there’s just a coating of mud on everything. We have to make sure that individuals are very mindful of treating wounds effectively, don’t let these places become infected.”

The mud that coats nearly everything the flooding touched carries contaminants that can cause illness, Lockard said. The mud and debris are hazards for falls, and people should use protective equipment like rubber boots and gloves.

Lockard also said maintaining good mental health is also a concern. “A social worker by training, Lockard said setting boundaries and knowing when to ask for help are important tools,” Morrill reports.

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