Hurricane season has brought three devastating storms to the Gulf Coast, Caribbean, and Florida. The impacts of these storms serve as a reminder that the 2,800 local health departments across our nation stand ready to help protect residents and families from all sorts of natural disasters and to play a vital role in any recovery efforts. Local health departments are life-saving first responders to natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, floods and earthquakes, as well as to other public health emergencies such as disease outbreaks, major accidents and terrorist attacks. Their dedicated staffs work year-round to prepare and are on call 24 hours a day, every day, to respond when needed.
Following a disaster, public health has a critical role in helping communities recover. Following hurricane and flooding disasters, local health departments are often called upon to conduct enhanced disease surveillance in shelters and their communities, perform environmental health inspections of restaurants, businesses, and homes, assist families returning to the impacted areas get reconnected with social services (e.g., nutrition programs, mental health), and provide a surge of immunizations (e.g., tetnus.)
As the association representing local health departments, the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) will continue to assist and support these departments with their response and recovery efforts. Our thoughts are with those who have been impacted by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Katia, Jose, and Maria. We extend our appreciation and support to the first responders, public health, emergency management, healthcare and other partners and individuals who will help our communities to respond and recover.
As a partner with local health departments, NACCHO has compiled a variety of resources to help local health departments prepare for, respond to, and recover from hurricanes and flooding. These resources were developed by NACCHO and health departments to help address key public health threats during and following a hurricane or major flooding event. They are meant to complement the resources and guidance provided by federal agencies such as CDC, ASPR, and FEMA.
Post-Hurricane and Flooding
- Air Quality Profile related to mold and health impacts
- CDC’s Carbon Monoxide Toolkit
- Single resource document compiling links to resources on the most common public health issues following a hurricane or flooding event
- CDC’s Key messages which includes guidance for addressing mold and preventing injury for individuals returning to their homes (page 25-29)
- Residential checklist for mosquito breeding sites (English I Spanish)
- Operational Checklist for health departments in the event of local Dengue, Chikungunya, or Zika transmission
- Psychological First Aid training to assist communities in moving forward following a flooding event
- The state of Minnesota website has a number of behavioral health resources including just-in-time trainings
- Psychological First Aid Field Operations Guide for Medical Reserve Corps Units
- Family Assistance Center toolkit
- Opioid Preparedness Resources and Information for use during and following emergencies
- Just-in-time training for environmental health professionals conducting assessments of food-borne disease outbreak investigations
- Reference Handbook for food managers at food service establishments following an emergency (available in five languages)
- Guidelines for food safety in emergency shelters and mass feeding centers (San Luis Obispo County)
Risk and Emergency Communications
- Social Media Public Education Toolkit for Emergency Response which includes sample messages for a wide range of threats including flooding and storms
- Communications Toolkit, which includes guidance for speaking with the media during and following emergencies
Volunteering and Donations
- All local health departments are encouraged to stand by for requests through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) for support to Puerto Rico; currently, the transportation and communications challenges in Puerto Rico are making it difficult to accurately identify needs and transport staff and supplies to areas in need
- If you are an organization who is interested in volunteering or contributing to Maria relief efforts in Puerto Rico, contact NVOAD or donate via UnitedforPuertoRico.org
- If you are an individual or organization who is interested in contributing to Harvey relief efforts, please see a list of available resources.
Federal Resources and Guidance
- CDC’s Hurricane webpage and MMWR  which contains an extensive list of resources on hurricane preparations, flooding, injury prevention, chemical hazards, mold, surveillance, and air quality for the public, public health professionals, and healthcare workers in English and Spanish.
- FEMA’s Hurricane webpage
- ASPR’s Technical Resources, Assistance Center, and Information Exchange (TRACIE) hurricane and flooding resources.
- The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)’s Key Messages for employers, workers, and volunteers.
- The National Library of Medicine (NLM’s) Hurricane Portal, has several resources on hurricane health issues, environmental impacts and clean-up, worker and responder safety, and pet preparedness. Many resources are also available in other languages.
- The Office of Health Affairs’ Community Health Resilience (CHR) Guide and Toolkit can be used to submit and/or receive tools that assist with disaster response and resilience efforts.
- The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has compiled information in this document which provides helpful tips for medicare beneficiaries living in an area that has been declared an emergency or disaster.
- The Small Business Administration‘s information on business continuity, disaster relief, and recovery information.
NACCHO is activated for Hurricane Harvey, Irma, and Maria response and recovery and encourages local health officials and others to direct any questions or requests to the NACCHO Preparedness Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This post was updated on October 24, 2017.
 Hurricane Season Public Health Preparedness, Response, and Recovery Guidance for Health Care Providers, Response and Recovery Workers, and Affected Communities — CDC, 2017. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2017;66:995-998. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6637e1