Responding to major flooding in 2 Georgia counties

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Heavy rainfall in September 2009 prompted the activation of Emergency Support Function (ESF) 6 and 8 in two counties in Georgia. Emergency preparedness staff supported ESF 6 operations with the Red Cross when shelters opened to over 500 residents for the duration of 3 weeks.

Flood response efforts required collaboration across disciplines. Public Health nurses staffed the Red Cross shelter for the first 16 hours of operations, ensuring medical care was available, while also providing seasonal flu vaccine and diphtheria and tetanus (DT) shots to people in the shelter free of charge. Additional health professionals conducted daily shelter visits to provide health and medical support to the nurses and epidemiologists assessed any infectious situations. Environmental health personnel inspected the shelter’s food service and assessed flooded mobile homes.

Emergency preparedness staff also worked with hospitals in the area to determine acute needs. One hospital needed potable water since the main water system had been breached and there was no water pressure in the hospital; emergency preparedness staff worked with the Georgia Emergency Management Agency to deliver water to the hospital.

Prior to 2001 there was no Center for Emergency Preparedness and Response in Public Health and no trained staff to respond to ESF 6 & 8 responsibilities. With funding from the CDC to pay salaries of all public health emergency preparedness and response staff and subsequent training, qualified emergency preparedness staff were in the County Emergency Operations Center within 30 minutes of full activation of the center during the September 2009 floods.

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