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Published on March 20, 2019

Remember Safety in Flood Recovery and Cleanup

Health officials are reminding people in many Midwestern communities devastated by floods to use caution.

“Cleaning up is overwhelming, and as people face it, we encourage them to be careful. We do not want any more loss of life or injuries,” said Brian Jundt, MD, Avera Medical Group O’Neill family physician. “We are seeing people who have been injured in the disaster, and we remind those cleaning up to get their tetanus shots if they are not up to date.”

Avera Medical Group clinics in Niobrara, Pierce and Verdigre, Neb., are open despite flooding. Employees are providing free tetanus shots for those cleaning up flood debris.

State agencies in Nebraska continue to support efforts as they take place, and Jundt said those resources can help people who do not know where else to turn. Rapidly melting snow and tremendous rainfall led to several deaths, many injuries and evacuations in more than 70 communities in Nebraska.

South Dakota public health officials, as well as those in Iowa, remind the public to remain cautious as they clean up or make repairs. While Nebraska took the brunt of the storm’s wrath, many Iowa communities still face threats from the water and many southeastern South Dakota towns and cities faced historic rainfall totals and high water.

Jundt reminded people who continue to work in flooded areas to be cautious of obstacles and threats such as:

  • Moving water across roadways, regardless of its depth
  • Mold outbreaks in water-damaged buildings
  • Weakened roadways, especially over culverts or drainage, that could collapse

Avera Farmers Stress Hotline is another resource that can help people who feel overwhelmed or who seek help in navigating the possible signs of depression, anxiety or other issues. They can call the hotline toll-free at 800-691-4336 and speak with licensed mental health professionals.

“Infectious disease risk from stagnant water that could have E.coli or salmonella bacteria is high, especially for people who get cuts or scrapes while exposed to this water,” said Kevin Post, DO, Avera Medical Group Emergency Medicine physician in Yankton. “Cold-weather conditions are additional threats. We have treated patients for exposure as well as accidental injuries.”

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