Hurricane Season Public Health Preparedness, Response, and Recovery Guidance for Health Care Providers, Response and Recovery Workers, and Affected Communities — CDC, 2017

On September 13, 2017, this report was posted online as an MMWR Early Release.

CDC 2017 Hurricane Incident Management System Team1 (View author affiliations)

View suggested citation
Article Metrics

Views equals page views plus PDF downloads

Related Materials

CDC and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) have guidance and technical materials available in both English and Spanish to help communities prepare for hurricanes and floods (Table 1). To help protect the health and safety of the public, responders, and clean-up workers during response and recovery operations from hurricanes and floods, CDC and ATSDR have developed public health guidance and other resources; many are available in both English and Spanish (Table 2).

Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the Texas coast on August 25, 2017, as a Category 4 storm. In southeast Texas, record rainfall caused extensive flooding and damage to public infrastructure and communities, and displaced thousands of persons. As of September 12, 2017, the media have reported >80 storm-related deaths attributed to Hurricane Harvey (medical examiner confirmation is pending for some deaths). Most of these deaths likely were caused by drowning in flood waters within the first few days after impact (e.g., drowning at home or in vehicles).

On September 7, 2017, a Category 5 hurricane, Irma, reached the Lesser Antilles, including the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Hurricane Irma then continued its path across the Greater Antilles and made landfall in south Florida on September 10, 2017. Irma’s hurricane-force winds and related storm surges caused substantial damage in the Caribbean and Florida.

Many areas in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, and the U.S. territories affected by these storms are still experiencing disruptions in essential services, including electricity, potable water, food, and communications. Numerous health care and public health systems sustained damage. Environmental health impacts from the hurricanes included effects on industries, chemical plants, and hazardous waste sites. Many displaced persons remain in shelters or other temporary housing.

As part of the overall U.S. Department of Health and Human Services response and recovery operations, CDC and ATSDR are supporting public health and medical care functions for affected communities and persons displaced by the hurricanes. As of September 12, 2017, CDC and ATSDR had sent pharmacy and federal medical station supplies to Texas, Louisiana, and Florida. CDC and ATSDR have also activated and deployed members of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps and other personnel to provide technical support for critical public health functions. Field operations and the CDC and ATSDR Emergency Operations Center are supporting mortality and morbidity surveillance; public health messaging and risk communication; water, sanitation, safety, and facility assessments; community rapid needs assessments; mold abatement; industrial and residential contaminant exposure prevention; and vector control.

There are potential public health and safety concerns after hurricane impact. Many injuries and illnesses from hurricanes and floods occur during the response and recovery phases. Common hazards include vehicle- and nonvehicle-related drowning, carbon monoxide poisoning (e.g., from any gasoline-powered engine, including generators and clean-up equipment), electrocution, falls, lacerations, and exposure to mold and industrial and household chemicals (18). In addition, exacerbation of existing chronic conditions and development of acute mental health symptoms are frequent reasons for seeking health care services following a disaster (911). Guidance and other resources to assist in addressing many of these hazards and risk are available (Table 2).

CDC and ATSDR also offer a disaster response clinical consultation service to assist health care providers, public health professionals, and emergency response partners. This service can be accessed by emailing CDC IMS Clinical Inquiries at

For additional assistance, health care providers, public health professionals, and members of the public can also use CDC and ATSDR’s information service, CDC-INFO. Live agents provide up-to-date science-based health information. CDC-INFO can be reached Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time at 1–800-CDC-INFO (1–800–232–4636) or by submitting a web-based form ( Services are available in English and Spanish.

Conflict of Interest

No conflicts of interest were reported.

Corresponding author: CDC Joint Information Center Administrator,

1Emergency Operations Center, CDC.


  1. Brandt M, Brown C, Burkhart J, et al. Mold prevention strategies and possible health effects in the aftermath of hurricanes and major floods. MMWR Recomm Rep 2006;55(No. RR–8). PubMed
  2. CDC. Deaths associated with Hurricane Sandy—October–November 2012. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2013;62:393–7. PubMed
  3. Johanning E, Auger P, Morey PR, Yang CS, Olmsted E. Review of health hazards and prevention measures for response and recovery workers and volunteers after natural disasters, flooding, and water damage: mold and dampness. Environ Health Prev Med 2014;19:93–9. CrossRef PubMed
  4. Kim S, Kulkarni PA, Rajan M, et al. Hurricane Sandy (New Jersey): mortality rates in the following month and quarter. Am J Public Health 2017;107:1304–7. CrossRef PubMed
  5. Marshall EG, Lu SE, Shi Z, Swerdel J, Borjan M, Lumia ME. Work-related unintentional injuries associated with Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey. Disaster Med Public Health Prep 2016;10:394–404. CrossRef PubMed
  6. Ragan P, Schulte J, Nelson SJ, Jones KT. Mortality surveillance: 2004 to 2005 Florida hurricane-related deaths. Am J Forensic Med Pathol 2008;29:148–53. CrossRef PubMed
  7. Sengul H, Santella N, Steinberg LJ, Cruz AM. Analysis of hazardous material releases due to natural hazards in the United States. Disasters 2012;36:723–43. CrossRef PubMed
  8. Wang A, Issa A, Bayleyegn T, et al. ; Hurricane Matthew Incident Management System Team, CDC Emergency Operations Center. Notes from the field: mortality associated with Hurricane Matthew—United States, October 2016. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2017;66:145–6. CrossRef PubMed
  9. Bell SA, Abir M, Choi H, Cooke C, Iwashyna T. All-cause hospital admissions among older adults after a natural disaster. Ann Emerg Med . Epub August 5, 2017. PubMed
  10. Noe RS, Schnall AH, Wolkin AF, et al. Disaster-related injuries and illnesses treated by American Red Cross disaster health services during Hurricanes Gustav and Ike. South Med J 2013;106:102–8. CrossRef PubMed
  11. Schwartz RM, Gillezeau CN, Liu B, Lieberman-Cribbin W, Taioli E. Longitudinal impact of Hurricane Sandy exposure on mental health symptoms. Int J Environ Res Public Health 2017;14:957. CrossRef PubMed
Return to your place in the textTABLE 1. English and Spanish community guidance for preparing for hurricanes and floods — CDC, 2017
English En Español
Information about hurricanes and other tropical storms
Huracanes y otras tormentas tropicales
Preparations before a hurricane
Antes de un huracán
Family, health, and safety preparation
Obtenga suministros
Key facts about flood readiness
Datos importantes sobre los preparativos para una inundación
Return to your place in the textTABLE 2. English and Spanish guidance for response and recovery from hurricanes and floods, by primary target audience — CDC, 2017
English En Español
General audience
Be safe after a hurricane*
Manténgase a salvo después de un huracán
After a hurricane
Después de un huracán
Floods (general information)
Información sobre inundaciones
After a flood
Después de una inundación
Flood waters or standing waters health risks
Agua de la inundación después de un desastre o una emergencia
Building and facilities damage: health risks
Cleaning up your home after a disaster or emergency
Limpiar tu casa después de un desastre o emergencia Limpie su casa
Generator and furnace safety
Seguridad con los Generadores y Calentadores
Pressure washer safety
Carbon monoxide poisoning§
Intoxicación por monóxido de carbono
Carbon monoxide poisoning FAQs
Intoxicación con Monóxido de Carbono Preguntas Frecuente
Chemical hazards: asbestos in your environment: what you can do to limit exposure
ToxFAQ for asbestos = 29&tid = 4
ToxFAQs Asbesto (Amianto)
Chemical hazards: mercury
No te metas con mercurio
Chemical hazards: lead
Lo que debe saber sobre el envenenamiento del plomo
Coping with a disaster or traumatic event
Cómo enfrentar un desastre o evento traumático
Food safety for infants after a disaster
Asegúrese de que los alimentos y el agua se puedan consumir sin correr riesgo (Cómo alimentar a su bebé)
Keep food and water safe after a disaster
Asegúrese de que los alimentos y el agua se puedan consumir sin correr riesgo
Personal hygiene and handwashing after a disaster or emergency
Higiene personal y lavado de manos después de un desastre o emergencia
Extreme heat
Calor Extremo y Su Salud
Homeowner’s and renter’s guide to mold cleanup after disasters
Guía del propietario y arrendatario para la limpieza de moho después de desastres
Get rid of mold
Elimine el moho
Mold FAQs
Preguntas más frecuentes sobre molde
Ready Wrigley Prepares for Storm and Flood Recovery (a resource for children)
More resources for families
Más recursos para las familias
Public service announcements (PSAs)
Anuncios de servicio público (PSA)
Health care professionals
Medical care of ill disaster evacuees: additional diagnoses to consider
Medical management and patient advisement after a disaster
Clinical guidance for carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning after a disaster
Directrices clínicas para la intoxicación por monóxido de carbono (CO) después de un desastre
Safety information for health care professionals
Información de seguridad para los profesionales de la salud
Public health professionals and response workers
Emergency: response resources for storm, flood, and hurricane response
NIOSH advierte sobre los peligros de limpieza después de una inundación
Death scene investigation after natural disaster or other weather-related events: a toolkit
Public health assessment and surveillance after a disaster
Formas de vigilancia de mortalidad relacionadas con desastres están disponibles en español
Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response (CASPER)
Emergency Responder Health Monitoring and Surveillance (ERHMS)
Assessment of Chemical Exposures (ACE) toolkit
Chemical hazards: lead information for workers
Instituto Nacional para la Seguridad y Salud Ocupacional (NIOSH) plomo
Chemical hazards: resources for emergency responders for chemical or radioactive materials
Seguridad de productos químicos
Preventing carbon monoxide poisoning from small gasoline-powered engines and tools
Prevención de envenenamiento con monóxido de carbono producido por herramientas y equipos con motores pequeños de gasoline
Heat and outdoor workers Los trabajadores al aire libre y el calor
Indoor environmental quality
Indoor environmental quality: preventing occupational respiratory disease from exposures caused by dampness in office buildings, schools, and other nonindustrial buildings
Prevención de enfermedades respiratorias ocupacionales por exposición causadas por la humedad en edificios de oficinas, escuelas y otros edificios no industriales
Indoor environmental quality: recommendations for the cleaning and remediation of flood-contaminated HVAC systems: a guide for building owners and managers
Safety: guidance on personal protective equipment and clothing for flood cleanup workers
Equipo de protección personal y la ropa para las personas que trabajan en la limpieza después de las inundaciones
Safety: information for response and cleanup workers
Información de seguridad para trabajadores de respuesta a emergencias y de limpieza
Worker safety after a flood
Seguridad de los trabajadores después de una inundación
Traumatic incident stress: symptoms and recommendations for responders
Estrés por sucesos traumáticos: Información para el personal de emergencia
Tree removal: preventing chain saw injuries during tree removal after a disaster
Cómo prevenir lesiones causadas por motosierras después de un desastre
Tree removal: preventing falls and electrocutions during tree trimming
Retiro de árbol: prevención de caídas y electrocuciones durante la poda de árboles

* Information on this webpage is available in 11 different languages.
Currently not available in Spanish.
§ This fact sheet is available in six additional languages, available at

Suggested citation for this article: . Hurricane Season Public Health Preparedness, Response, and Recovery Guidance for Health Care Providers, Response and Recovery Workers, and Affected Communities — CDC, 2017. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2017;66:995-998. DOI:

MMWR and Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report are service marks of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Use of trade names and commercial sources is for identification only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
References to non-CDC sites on the Internet are provided as a service to MMWR readers and do not constitute or imply endorsement of these organizations or their programs by CDC or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. CDC is not responsible for the content of pages found at these sites. URL addresses listed in MMWR were current as of the date of publication.

All HTML versions of MMWR articles are generated from final proofs through an automated process. This conversion might result in character translation or format errors in the HTML version. Users are referred to the electronic PDF version ( and/or the original MMWR paper copy for printable versions of official text, figures, and tables.

Questions or messages regarding errors in formatting should be addressed to

View Page In: PDF [101K]