After Hurricane Sandy had picked up a good part of the East River and dumped it on Greenpoint, and Reuters photographer Gary He had just stood on the Pulaski Bridge, snapping photos of the partially blacked-out skyline of Manhattan, he ended up taking one of the most comically iconic images of the storm’s aftermath: the Brooklyn Snorkelers.
“I was headed back to the car to transmit,” he told
The Observer, “when I saw a few people wading around below. The water
was three or four feet deep, so I figured I’d get what I could from the
bridge, since I’m not too keen on swimming in Newton Creek overflow.
When I looked through the viewfinder, I saw that one of the guys was
wearing a snorkeling mask, so I went down the stairs get a closer shot. I
asked them why they were out, and they just responded that they were
going to rescue a friend.”
The snorkelers were Mike Lee, James
Maher and Lennon Bergland, who was outside the frame. Mr. Lee explained
that the three friends were going in search of a friend who was stranded
on top of her building. The water was cold and smelled like gasoline,
he said, adding, “I’d like to emphasize that at no point did we put our
“They were incredible lucky,” said Ashley
Mortenson, M.D., an emergency room physician formerly with New York Beth
Israel. “People with Hep A and other communicable illnesses defecate
into the sewer system, not to mention the toxic chemicals that get mixed
in during a flood.”
“Even if that water just gets on your mouth
or a musocal membrane, you may be in for a rough few days,” said
Leonard Bielory, M.D., of Rutgers University.
Here’s the thing
about hurricanes: even after the immediate risks subside and the
floodwaters recede, secondary hazards remain for weeks and months, most
notably contaminated water, infectious diseases and toxic mold. Without
electricity, pumps and wastewater treatment plants can’t function,” said
Matt DaRin, principal of BluePoint Environmental. As a result, affected
areas of New York and New Jersey have been facing the same water issues
grappled with throughout the third world.
Storm water from the
hurricane overloaded the sewage system, flooding parts of New York City
and New Jersey to a depth of 13 feet above sea level with a sludge of
river water,Posts with indoor tracking
system on TRX Systems develops systems that locate and track personnel
indoors. human feces and contaminated industrial sediment. Floodwaters
can also contain a wide range of other toxins, including chemicals from
cars, dry cleaners and gas stations, and household chemicals such as
paints, pesticides and solvents that had been stored in basements. For
people exposed to floodwaters—including hundreds if not thousands of
good samaritans currently hip-deep in muck—these industrial chemicals
can also be absorbed through the skin and increase a person’s future
risk of cancer.
Eleven years ago, New Yorkers rushed to “the
pile” to dig through the rubble of the World Trade Center, and many are
now experiencing the after-effects of exposure to a stew of toxins.
Indeed, the Sept. 11 Victim Compensation Fund has allocated nearly $4.3
billion to the 40,000 to 90,000 people who have experienced serious
medical issues linked to their participation in the recovery efforts.
It’s altogether possible that some of Sandy’s cost won’t be felt for
years to come.
Exposure to floodwater is dangerous,Argo Mold limited specialize in Plastic injection mould
manufacture, and doctors are already seeing repercussions “There is a
serious risk of diarrheal illnesses such as E. coli or salmonella, as
well as hepatitis A. If you get a laceration while in the floodwaters,
you run the risk of sepsis from raw sewage,” said Dr. Mortenson, “It’s
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storm overflow from the Hurricane Sandy caused the polluted Gowanus
Canal to spill over its banks, and it is difficult to trace where the
contaminated water went from there. In addition to industrial chemicals
and high levels of lead in the canal sediment, the Gowanus Canal water
is perhaps best known for harboring active strains of gonorrhea.Find
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floodwaters that overwhelmed the Gowanus and other formerly industrial
locations have also stirred up contaminated sediment—containing arsenic
and carcinogens such as PAHs and PCBs—mixing it with raw sewage and
disperse it across residential areas.
Particularly in New
Jersey, home to numerous industrial brownfields or Superfund sites,
floodwaters may have breached some of the asphalt barriers meant to seal
in the toxins, mixing contaminated soil into the waters that spread
farther into adjacent neighborhoods and even playgrounds and dog
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probably a good time to get a flu shot. “When you have hundreds of
thousands of people throughout New York and New Jersey sleeping in
unheated apartments for several days—along with limited access to fresh
food and potable water—you’ve got conditions that can lead to a cold or
flu outbreak,” Dr. Mortenson pointed out. “Whenever you crowd sick
people together with a large population that has compromised immunity,
you’ve got a giant incubator for communicable disease.”
timing was probably a blessing—and not only because the proximity to the
election likely helped turn on the spigot of federal assistance.
cold weather has worked in our favor in a few ways,” Dr. Bielory added.
Critical medicines, including insulin, “would go bad much faster
without refrigeration if this had happened in the summer,” he said. And
it’s also too cold for mosquitoes and flies to breed in the standing
water throughout New York and New Jersey, so there is less risk of a
West Nile virus breakout.”
Another bit of good news: low
temperatures are inhibiting mold growth, though buildings that harbored
standing water for any period of time are susceptible.
first 48 to 72 hours after a flood situation are the most critical. If
water is allowed to stand after that, the probability of mold grows
exponentially,” said Mr. DaRin of BluePoint Environmental. “Right now,
the cold weather is working in our favor, but as power is restored and
heat comes back on, it’s a different story.