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Health Threats Still Linger As Flood Waters Recede

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PRINCEVILLE — Martha Thomas has collected a lot of things during her 77 years. Now, most of them are piled in the front yard of her house in Princeville.

"I've never seen anything like this before," Thomas says of the flooding from Hurricane Floyd has caused. "I hope I never see it again."

She would like to salvage a few things, but she knows most of it is contaminated by flood water.

"It's been under water for six days, and it's all mildewing and falling apart," says Thomas. "We're not taking any of that."

Thomas and many other flood victims know that the health risks associated with standing water still exists, even though the water has receded.

Wilbert Draughn wheels a load of rotting furniture from his mother-in-law's home. Draughn says they will not be able to save much, either.

But they are being careful to cover up while they clean out the moldy, mildewing house.

"Everybody's supposed to have on work boots, work pants, gloves and masks," Draughn says. "When we go in the house, we put the masks on cause you don't know what's in there."

Experts say everyone should wear masks and gloves when they go inside flood-ravaged homes to protect themselves from the mold they can see, and the bacteria they cannot see.

"Anything that's come in contact with any flood water could be considered to have possible bacteria contamination and is not to be reused," says Ron Stillwagon of the American Red Cross.

Some items can be cleaned with bleach and water. Clothing, carpeting, plastic and wood, however, should go in the trash heap. Experts say by tossing it out now, flood victims can avoid a health crisis later.

TheNorth Carolina Cooperative Extension Servicewill talk about flood cleanup Monday evening in Goldsboro. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. at Love Memorial Baptist Church on Woodland Church Road.

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Stephanie Hawco, Reporter
Adrienne Traxinger, Photographer
Kelly Gardner, Web Editor

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