The Virginia Department of Health has issued several warnings and guidelines for residents along the Eastern coast who may be impacted by Hurricane Dorian.
“Hurricanes, especially if accompanied by a tidal surge or flooding, can contaminate the public water supply,” the Department of Health warned in a news release. “Drinking contaminated water may cause illness. Individuals cannot assume that the water in a hurricane-affected area is safe to drink. In an area hit by a hurricane, water treatment plants may not be operating. Even if they are, storm damage and flooding may contaminate water lines. Listen for public announcements about the safety of the municipal water supply. If your private well has been flooded, it needs to be tested and disinfected after the storm passes and floodwaters recede”
Treated water and bottled water are safe to use, according to the news release. Other water should be boiled before use. Contaminated water should not be used for washing dishes, brushing teeth, washing food, preparing food or making ice. Containers with potentially contaminated water should not be reused unless rinsed with a bacterial bleach solution: one tablespoon of bleach for gallon of water.
Although touching floodwater is not a problem in and of itself, the department warned that people should be more cautious of hygiene in case the water has been contaminated with fecal material. People are discouraged from wading through floodwaters, but instructed to bathe immediately after doing so if they do come in contact with it. In the case of a sewage backflow, people are encouraged to wear waterproof gloves and rubber boots during the cleanup.
The department also warned people to watch their food more closely if the power goes out. Any food that is in room temperature for more than two hours should be thrown away.
Sandbridge, a coastal community in Virginia Beach, is facing mandatory evacuations for Friday because of the hurricane. Zone A has voluntary evacuations. Individuals can find their evacuation zones with this search box on www.knowyourzoneva.org or dialing 2-1-1.
The hurricane, which has been downgraded to a Category 1, has already hit North Carolina and will continue trudging up the East coast. Although the eye of the storm is still in North Carolina, some of the rains and winds have already affected parts of Virginia. Although the hurricane is expected to move away from the mainland, conditions in the commonwealth are expected to worsen later this afternoon and into the evening.
North Carolina has already seen power outages and flooding. Some southeastern Virginia customers have also had power outages.