Louisiana Floods: When Natural Disaster Strikes

This blog was originally posted on August 18, 2016 via the NACCHO Preparedness Brief Blog, available at this link. Due to the high impact nature of the events discussed, we are also sharing it here to increase local health department and partner agency awareness about available resources for flooding response.

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Photo Credit: Brendan Smialowski/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

In the days since thunderstorms and heavy rains inundated parishes throughout southern Louisiana, the magnitude of the resulting flooding has grown more apparent. As of August 17, the death toll had risen to 13, twelve parishes were declared disaster areas, about 20,000 people were displaced, and more than 40,000 homes were damaged. Our thoughts are with Louisianans during this difficult time, and this historic flooding event is an unfortunate reminder that natural disasters can occur without warning and the consequences can be both far-reaching and long-standing.

In addition to the loss of life and property, flood events have public health implications. For example, although there are no current cases of locally-transmitted Zika virus in Louisiana, the conditions created by the flooding place the state’s communities at risk. Zika mosquitos can reproduce in as little water as a bottle cap and breed wherever water accumulates, making flood sites particularly vulnerable to this health threat. Further, the potential for a communicable disease outbreak increases in areas with standing water and wet conditions. Fortunately, when given the right resources and support, local health departments can take measures to prevent weather emergencies from spiraling into public health emergencies. NACCHO is committed to connecting you to those resources.

The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response’s (ASPR’s) Technical Resources, Assistance Center, and Information Exchange (TRACIE) has a number of resources that may be helpful to jurisdictions currently experiencing flooding and those jurisdictions planning for flooding or flood-related health issues. The technical resources cover a broad range of healthcare emergency preparedness topics, including Topic Collections that provide subject matter expert vetted resources on specific topics.

We encourage local health departments in Louisiana to explore ASPR’s TRACIE resources. As a reminder to all local health departments across the nation, NACCHO has a resource document available to help you assist communities in moving forward following a flooding event.

If you have any questions, please contact the NACCHO Preparedness Team.

About Anastasia Sonneman

Anastasia Sonneman serves as a Communications Specialist at NACCHO. Her work includes promoting local health departments' best practices, as well as partner tools and resources, in environmental health, health and disability, and preparedness through NACCHO's communications channels, storytelling, and outreach to various audiences.

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