Bay County Health Department releases results of post-Hurricane Michael health assessment surveys

Published: Jun. 18, 2020 at 12:19 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG) - The results are in following a survey after Hurricane Michael about survivors’ health.

The Florida Health Department of Health in Bay County and the Florida Department of Health in Gulf County had employees go door-to-door to do the assessment.

“This information will help DOH-Bay and DOH-Gulf and our partners understand the health needs of Bay and Gulf County residents post-Hurricane Michael,” Sandon S. Speedling, MHS, CPM, CPH, Administrator and Health Officer, DOH-Bay, said.

“We appreciate the community members who answered their door for our volunteers and took the time to respond to help their community. Due to your input, 178 responses were recorded,” Sarah Hinds, Administrator and Health Officer, DOH-Gulf, said.

Results include Hurricane Michael evacuation, Hurricane Michael emergency supplies, damage and repairs from Hurricane Michael, post-hurricane injuries and illnesses, access to healthcare post-hurricane, and suicide ideation and risk.

More than half of the participants in the survey say they evacuated before (43.4%) or after (13.7%) Hurricane Michael’s landfall. Of the people who took the survey, 41.5% reported they did not evacuate. Of those who did evacuate, 39% went to friends or family’s homes nearby, 27.2% went to friends or family’s homes elsewhere, and 5.3% went to a shelter.

Of those surveyed, the health departments report 74.3% of people had an emergency supply kit for their households before the storm. Almost half (44.1%) say their household needed supplies not in their kits, such as water, food, batteries, medical supplies, gas/fuel/electricity, generators, and clean-up supplies and tools.

When it came to damage and repairs from Hurricane Michael, survey results say 68.2% reported their homes damaged, but repairable, 20.9% reported minimal to no damage, and 9.9% reported their homes were destroyed. The average damage estimate reported in the survey was $79,653, with a median cost of $50,000 from a range of $240 to $565,000 worth of damage. Most people surveyed say their home is somewhat (54.7%) or completely repaired (27%). The most common barrier to repairing damage was slow money receipt form insurance or FEMA (30.2%). More than half surveyed (52%) say they have had to use a generator since the storm, but only 40% report having a carbon monoxide detector.

After the storm, most households (80.5%) reported not having anyone injured as a result of Hurricane Michael. Those who did report injuries, the most common types were slips, trips, and falls (47%). The most common new illnesses reported in the survey were anxiety (48.7%), allergies (45%), cough (34.6%), and asthma/COPD/respiratory difficulties (27.5%).

After the hurricane hit, there was significant damage to medical facilities in our area. Of those who were surveyed, 53.9% said they were still able to get their medicine from their usual place. Those who had issues getting their medicine say it was either due to their usual clinic or physician closed (30.7%), their usual pharmacy was closed (15.3%), or there were multiple reasons (48.9%).

Most of the people who took the survey say they had low to no risk of suicidality (94.3%).

Health officials say the results of the survey will be passed on to decision-makers to inform of the needs in the community and to identify the health impacts of Hurricane Michael.

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