Local health safety experts advise colleagues about Sandy

HOUSTON - Many of the people who evacuated before Superstorm Sandy are returning home to see what's left.

The recovery seems daunting, bringing a community back after it's under feet of water.

But Gulf Coast residents know it well. Allison, Katrina, Ike were all devastating.

Dr. Robert Emery is vice president of safety, health, environment and risk management for UTHealth.

He told Local 2, "Since this tragic event, we've received a lot of inquiries from our safety colleagues up in the northeast who have been asking what can we anticipate when the storm passes."

He is advising our neighbors to the north about the health and safety hazards in the aftermath of a storm.

Emery explained, "Just this morning, I was dealing with some calls about the issues of gasoline-powered pressure washers. These devices will be used to clean off the salt water, but if they're used in an enclosed space, that can represent a significant hazard as well."

Carbon monoxide poisoning along with falls and electrical shocks are constant threats during clean up.

In the long term, issues of toxic mold are of concern.

Emery added, "Within the coming weeks, you'll see this muck out in the lower levels (of buildings), but there's going to be pressure to reoccupy the building higher up and that's a real art and a science because ... there could be indoor air quality concerns and there's some work that has to go on to make sure that that's kept separate."

If there's any good news, Emery said the cold weather actually helps slow the growth of mold, unlike here in the Houston area where we have the heat and humidity to contend with.

Residents in the northeast are also being advised to pay attention to boil water notices.

It could be days before drinking water is considered safe again.

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