MARBLE FALLS, Texas (KXAN) — Major flood damage along the Colorado River may pose an unseen risk to people working on the extensive cleanup.
Dr. Juliette Madrigal-Dersch, the Burnet County Health Authority, is recommending that people helping with relief efforts get vaccinations for Tetanus and Hepatitis A.
Health experts said homes flooded by the river last week may be more contaminated with the bacteria that causes Tetanus, so the shot will help protect those handling the debris.
Sewage picked up and deposited by floodwaters may also raise the risk of getting the Hepatitis A virus, which can cause a serious liver infection. According to the Mayo Clinic, it can be spread when someone eats or drinks something contaminated with even a small amount of fecal matter.
Most volunteers working to clear out some of the heavily damaged homes in the Pecan Valley neighborhood in Marble Falls are keeping their hands and mouths covered with gloves and N95 masks, which are recommended by the Burnet County Health Authority to be worn by volunteers.
The City of Marble Falls announced that a vaccine clinic will be held October 25 from 7 to 9 a.m. at the Lakeshore Church, located at 704 N. Hwy. 281. The city said this clinic is for any volunteer or community member with insurance or payment at the time of administration.
The City of Marble Falls said vaccine resources can also be found locally at H-E-B, Walgreens, CVS, Seton Care-A-Van, Lone Star Circle of Care and the Texas Department of State Health Services.
An H-E-B spokesperson released the following statement Tuesday:
The H-E-B pharmacy in our Marble Falls store has seen an increase in customers receiving tetanus, Hepatitis A, and Hepatitis A & B shots as Marble Falls community members begin clean-up efforts due to recent flooding. The vaccine clinic at H-E-B Pharmacy in Marble Falls is open from 10-2pm this Wednesday – Saturday. Since Monday, the pharmacy had administered vaccines to over 150 patients. Those who have been exposed to contaminated water or exposed and rusted metals are encouraged to consult with their doctor on proper precautions. The H-E-B Pharmacy will continue to provide vaccines to the citizens of Marble Falls, first responders, and volunteers for the foreseeable future.
Nichole Sims, the children’s pastor at the First Baptist Church in Marble Falls, is among more than 500 volunteers dispatched to the area by her church to assist with the cleanup. In addition to safety, she said the church is training the volunteers to approach the relief efforts with care and compassion for the homeowners.
“We say if the house is the project, then the people are the ministry,” Sims said. “Help them. Don’t just run in and clear the stuff out, but walk alongside those homeowners as they deal with this devastation.”
A team of volunteers tore out the soaked sheet rock throughout Pamela Spratlen’s entire home near Pecan Valley Drive. Almost a foot of water flooded her family’s home last Tuesday.
She and her husband found out after the flood that their insurance only covers damage to the structure, not the contents inside their house. They now have to pay all on their own to replace their furniture and many other belongings destroyed in the flood. Despite that big financial setback, they still plan to rebuild and stay right where they are.
“I told myself yesterday, more or less, suck it up,” Spratlen said. “You have to do what you have to do. It’s still emotional, but we have to go forward.”