How South Carolina is preparing for flooding after Florence
South Carolina residents faced record flooding, with Hurricane Florence.
Hurricane Florence can result in contaminated drinking water, experts warn.
In addition to storm surges and mudslides, the Category 2 storm-which the National Hurricane Center predicted could bring more than 20 mm of rain in some parts of North Carolina — is expected to lead to flooding and the river flooding.
“This is not a scientific secret; once an area is flooded, there are several things that can pollute the water,” Joel Cline, a meteorologist and a tropical storm, coordinator of the NOAA, told Fox News.
Eastern North Carolina, in particular, is a large area for corporate companies and hog waste pools,” he added. In fact, North Carolina has more than 2000 industrial-scale pork farms with more than nine million pigs, The Associated Press reported.
The pigs are usually housed in the long metal sheds with grated floors. The floors are designed for the animals’ urine and feces to fall through the grates and the flow in the nearby open-air pits, where “millions of gallons of untreated waste water,” AP said.
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When these pits are flooded, the sewage can flow to other areas and pose a threat to the public water supply with a variety of bacteria and disease-causing micro-organisms.
Although not all hurricanes cause rivers and other water sources to overflow, Cline said the severity of the wind and the rain associated with a given storm are important factors when it comes to the chance of flooding.
“You don’t mess with the drink of water,” he said. “In this particular case, the rain will be such that [the number of] areas will be bad. Hog farmers have told to the care of their waste pools in advance.”
To prepare, the North Carolina Pork Council told the farmers to reduce lagoon levels, so that they can include at least two metres from the water.
“Our farmers and others in the pork industry are working together to take precautions to protect our farms, our animals and our environment,” Brandon Warren, the chairman of the council and a hog farmer, told the AP.
“The preparations for a hurricane began long before the last few hours or days. Our farmers take hurricane threats very seriously,” he added.
Then there is the problem of the wastewater treatment plants, usually placed in the vicinity of rivers, because “the plant in a low-lying area can the drainage use of gravity to the wastewater to the treatment plant and the positions of the treatment plant to discharge the treated wastewater (referred to as effluent) into the river or stream,” according to Friends of the Kaw, a non-profit environmental organization in Kansas. Such plants are also at risk of being flooded by water, Cline warned.
Even if the water treatment plants to continue to operate, there is still a chance that flooding can taint water lines, he said. Untreated sewage contains bacteria, such as salmonella and parasites, such as cryptosporidium and can lead to a potentially damaging water-related diseases — think of hepatitis and dysentery, for example.
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Also of interest are more than two dozen huge coal ash pits operated by Duke Energy, the state of the primary electricity provider. The gray ash that remains after combustion of coal that contains potentially harmful amounts of mercury, arsenic and lead. Many power plants’ waste wells in the vicinity of lakes and rivers, which can be flooded in a hurricane.
Cline suggested residents wait to hear from public health officials before you water — to drink or otherwise-of the public water supply. The Ministry of Health in Florida, a state often hit by tropical storms and hurricanes, offered tips for the purification of contaminated water, such as cooking, among other methods.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Madeline Farber is a Reporter for Fox News. You can follow her on Twitter @MaddieFarberUDK.