Floodwaters Pose Health Hazards

Barrone Street resident Cathy Lema says black mold is growing on her furniture and covers her  bare floors. Lema and her family haven't lived in the house since Tropical Storm Allison left flood waters inside.

"I'm really concerned for the health of my children and the health of us, because as Yvonne said at Medallion Home Health in Washington, not only could this cause respiratory problems, but in small children it could cause bleeding of the lungs and death," Lema said. She says she won't move back in until the house is professionally cleaned.

Lema's neighbor Sarah Riggio says water soaked carpet and left water lines on the doors of the laundry room and the den in her home. Riggio pulled up the carpet in three rooms, wondering about possible health threats.

"Especially when it starts to smells, then you start to consider yourself what kind of bacteria is in the house growing, developing, especially when you have pets too you have to worry about them getting into it," Riggio says.

People whose homes flooded have good reason to be worried about their health. Health officials say flood waters can contain contaminated sewage. Breathing mold and mildew from soaked carpeting and floors can cause reactions in some people.

Dr. Bob Travnicek of the Mississippi Health Department says,"Only certain people are really sensitive to mold so if you have a sensitivity to mold which you would develop possibly an asthma like symptom and your doctor would tell you what to do there."

The symptoms pass, Travnicek says, when the house and the slab are completely dry.