Structural improvements over the last decade to Houston hospitals have helped them so far to avoid devastation like Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005, but the pounding it is receiving from Tropical Storm Harvey is expected to financially hobble many already strained Texas medical centers.
The storm has forced hospitals to cancel surgeries, evacuate patients and contend with food and supply shortages. Even bigger challenges are expected in coming months when people who have lost homes and jobs avoid medical treatment or seek charitable care.
“A lot of hospitals already were burdened by uncompensated care…they were already struggling, and this will make things much harder,” said Vivian Ho, a healthcare economist at Rice University.
Rice has been temporarily closed because of the slow-moving storm that has killed at least 11 people since Friday and paralyzed Houston, the fourth most-populous city in the United States with a U.S.-census estimated 2.3 million.
Houston’s healthcare industry includes some of the most prestigious institutions in the country and has grown to accommodate a rising population in recent years.
But uncertainty about changes to U.S. health insurance policy, the region’s shrinking energy sector and Texas’ high percentage of uninsured have forced several Houston hospitals to cut thousands of jobs this year and post millions of dollars in losses, even before the storm.
Investment bank Jefferies warned in an Aug. 28 note that Harvey could have a significant impact on Texas healthcare providers, especially HCA Healthcare Inc, which has “11 percent of its beds in the areas impacted by severe weather.”
Texas Hospital Association spokesman Lance Lunsford said medical centers made significant improvements after buildings were damaged by Tropical Storm Allison in 2001.
Harvey broke rainfall records for the continental United States, with one site south of Houston recording 49.2 inches (1.25 meters) of precipitation.
Flooding prompted MD Anderson on Monday to cancel appointments and surgeries until Wednesday at the earliest, St. Luke’s Hospital closed one of its branches, and flooding at Ben Taub Hospital shut its food service.
MD Anderson on Monday told employees not part of its storm “ride out” team to stay home.
Roads around the cancer center’s main hospital were impassible, and a doctor posted photos of flooding that reached into the hospital lobby.
MD Anderson’s economic impact to the area is about $35 billion, according to its web site. Its 21 hospitals and affiliated institutions employ more than 106,000 people.
BOMA International extends its thoughts and prayers to the people impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Houston BOMA has established a GoFundMe account to help Houston BOMA members who have lost their homes and belongings in the flood. The proceeds received will go directly to Houston BOMA members to assist in putting their lives back together. Houston BOMA has donated the first $10,000 to the account. To donate, please go to https://www.gofundme.com/houston-boma-member-relief.
BOMA International is in contact with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to gather any information that may be helpful to our members. Ken Rosenfeld, Director of State and Local Affairs, has been participating in daily Critical Infrastructure Stakeholder conference calls with DHS. Of particular note, it is anticipated that “reentry” will become a serious obstacle—it will be difficult to determine the protocols to check on buildings once the storm is over. Since Texas is a “home rule” state, all authority resides with the local jurisdictions, meaning that there may be unique protocols for each jurisdiction. DHS is preparing a list of the local contacts and protocols. BOMA International will post this information to its website once it becomes available.
BOMA International also is assisting the American Logistics Aid Network (ALAN) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) with their relief efforts. ALAN is seeking donated warehouse space, with priority requests for 10,000 square feet in San Antonio and Austin to support shelters, and another 50,000 to 100,000 in Houston for the Red Cross. FEMA is seeking housing in the Houston area for incoming staff and responders. They are looking for accessible buildings of at least 10,000 square feet, with room to park vehicles, in Houston, Wharton, Brazoria County and Nueces County. The buildings can be “bare-bones,” as FEMA will provide cots, blankets, sanitary facilities and whatever else is needed. Also, the FEMA logistics team is looking for a large, accessible warehouse space of approximately 100,000 square feet in any of the above locations. We have contacted the BOMA local associations in Texas to spread the word to their members about both these requests.
In a related matter, this natural disaster underscores the importance of advocating for a responsible and robust National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Earlier this year, BOMA International created the following policy position:
The Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) International urges the federal government to implement policies that ensure that all commercial property owners have the ability to obtain flood insurance for their properties at reasonable and affordable rates. BOMA supports efforts from Congress to ensure the long term viability of the National Flood Insurance Program. BOMA also supports initiatives that expand the private insurance market and improve the accuracy of flood mapping.
BOMA’s advocacy team is working with members of Congress to ensure that this important program is reauthorized, especially in light of the damage from Hurricane Harvey.
Lastly, BOMA International has a number of resources available on the website, which may be accessed here.
Article Source: http://www.facilitiesnet.com/site/pressreleases/BOMA-Helps-Hurricane-Harvey-Victims–39775
Prevent water damage and mold growth
Leaves, sticks, and debris can become a problem for your rain gutters. Rain gutters typically allow the removal of water away from your home or building. In this instance, the blockage within the rain gutter allowed water to overflow and deposit near the front door of the unit. If left untended, the backup within the gutter would allow the water to impact the structure and possibly cause water damage inside the home. Water damage and mold growth inside your home can be prevented by regular maintenance of the rain gutters during this El Nino rainy season.
Do your best to observe the signs of a failing rain gutter and prevent water damage:
- Loose or detached down spouts
- Bent or broken sections of the main gutter
- Excessive debris (including leaves and dirt)
- Improper slope and grading of the gutters
- Overflowing water
1. Emergency Kit
Key items to include in an emergency kit include:
- Food and water to last you and your family 72 hours
- First aid supplies
- Any medical supplies you might need, like medications and spare eyeglasses.
You should also include a flashlight with extra batteries in your emergency kit in case you lose power during a winter storm.
You can find most things you’d want in an emergency kit around your home. Take a minute to gather them together to store in a safe place, so that you’re ready for any emergency.
2. Create a Plan
Creating an emergency plan for you, your family, or your business can help you better react to and recover from any emergency. Making a plan isn’t hard. By taking a few simple steps, you can be better prepared for life’s emergencies.
Talk to your family about how they would react to an emergency, for example an earthquake or a mudslide:
- Do you know what kinds of emergencies you might face at your home, school, or workplace?
- How will you know when there is an emergency in your area? What if you’re not at home?
- How will you get in touch with each other? Remember: cell phone service might be down, so think of a few different options.
- How will you let family and friends out of state know you’re okay?
- If you are separated during an emergency, how will your family reunite? Where will they reunite?
- How will you begin to recover? Do you have copies of important legal and vital documents stored somewhere safe?
Once you’ve started the conversation, get started on the plan. Use one of the easy, helpful templates from Ready.gov to get stared or create a customized plan using the Prepare LA Now web app.
3. Get Sandbags
Visit any neighborhood LAFD fire station to pick up sandbags. You can find your nearest fire station at the Los Angeles Fire Department website.
Some fire stations also have sand available. For a list of stations with sand, click here.
Not sure what to do with those sandbags once you’ve picked them up? Learn how to properly fill and place a sandbag from the pros.
Get pets prepared with these simple tips:
- Make sure that your pets have current City of Los Angeles Licenses. You can get a new license or renew your dog’s license online! Click here to get started.
- Micro-chip your pets, and verify information at least once a year! You can get your pets micro-chipped at any of the six L.A. City shelters (no appointments necessary).
- Remember to include pet food, water, leashes, medications, and treats in your emergency kit.
- Keep copies of your pets vital documents, and include the pets in your emergency plans.
- Your companion animals should have up-to-date vaccinations.
5. Get Prepared
Now is the time to get your home ready for wet winter weather. Here are some tips to get started:
- Walk around your home and look for anything that might cause problems during a storm. Is your roof showing signs of leaking? Are your gutters overflowing with leaves? Does water drain off your property? Once you’ve identified potential issues, you can start addressing them.
- Review your homeowners renters insurance policy. Does it cover flood damage? If not, the National Flood Insurance Program might be right for you.
- Clear out gutters and secure any loose items in your yard that might clog storm drains and cause flooding.
- Trim any trees that might fall over during a storm. (If you use a contractor, don’t get scammed. Be sure to check their license before starting work.)
- Install rain barrels or other water conservation systems to collect water, which saves money and is drought friendly. Learn more about El Niño and the Drought.
- Get a kit, get a plan, and practice it! Remember, your preparing for El Niño will better prepare you for whatever LA might throw our way.
- If you’re concerned about flooding, get sandbags before storms arrive. Learn how to get free sandbags.
Learn more > > > http://www.elninola.com/ready/
As many residents continue in the cleaning process, there could be hidden damage the flooding may have left in homes. Experts explain just how serious mold can be and what you need to know to protect you and your family.
Certain types of mold can grow within 48 hours and in some cases it can take just three weeks for mold to surface, but the excess moisture in a home is all the mold needs to grow.
“Anytime you have water come into your home, and it’s not properly dried you’re going to have mold, it’s indefinite, it’s going to happen,” explained Michael Burke, a bio-hazard expert, with A&I Fire & Water Restoration in Myrtle Beach.
Burke said when checking a home for damage, it should be a priority for homeowners to look for mold. Burke says his company has been busy responding to calls since the flood about water damage, and particularly mold concerns. “When we come in, we get the water out of the house, we extract the water from the house, remove any wet building materials, that won’t dry out or can’t dry out in a sufficient amount of time, then dry the structure out,” he explained.
Mold can quickly develop; it can take 48 hours or even three weeks before the signs surface. Burke said mold won’t always be seen. It could be hidden behind walls, underneath the home and even inside insulation.
Burke said people that suffered actual home flood damage are not at risk. He said homes that did not get water damage could still see mold because of the excessive moisture of the rain and water.
“Having a house on a crawl space or a raised house it could be growing underneath the house whether it’s in the insulation, the duct work, or the structure,” said Burke. “Look at the two-by-fours too, it (mold) could grow down there and initially start to develop in the house.”
The health risks from mold can be serious. Symptoms include shortness of breath, a stuffy nose, irritated eyes, wheezing or skin irritation. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, even more serious risks could include mold infections developing in the lungs. Burke added, “If you have allergies, asthma, or something similar, it may be a problem right away. Some people may not notice it for years that mold could be growing in their home.”
Burke adds trying to remove the mold on your own can be done, but he recommends calling a professional to make sure the mold is disposed of properly, and to prevent re-growth.
Household products, like bleach, are not recommended. Burke says most products contain water, which will make the treatment ineffective as mold could resurface from moisture once it begins to dry.
“Using bleach or something like that isn’t sufficient enough, you actually need some antimicrobial, a product the Environmental Protection Agency regulates to kill mold,” stated Burke.
Homeowners concerned about mold should contact an industrial hygienist to have air quality test performed that will check for mold in the home.
Burke says there is an industrial hygienist in most of the counties in the area.