Investigation Launched Into Why Women Seeking Mental Health Care Were Transported And Died In Floodwaters
South Carolina Law Enforcement Division is looking into the drowning deaths of two women who voluntarily committed themselves. Family members and others want to know why the women were being transported from the relative safety of a hospital during the aftermath of a hurricane. In other news from the Carolinas: hospitals are starting to recover from the storm, a look at whether hurricanes really do trigger births, the story of helping patients survive such a natural disaster, and more.
The New York Times:
They Were Seeking Mental Health Care. Instead They Drowned In A Sheriff’s Van.
Nicolette Green had decided to get better. The medication she was taking to treat her schizophrenia had calmed her and cleared her head. On Tuesday morning, her oldest daughter, Rose, with whom she had spent the weekend waiting out Hurricane Florence, drove her to her regular counseling session. A new therapist saw Ms. Green, 43, that day. And within a half-hour of evaluating her, he wanted her committed, said Donnela Green-Johnson, Ms. Green’s sister. ... Then Rose watched, troubled, as sheriff’s deputies patted her mother down and put her in a van to take her to a hospital almost two hours away. Rose, 19, recalled the deputies having handcuffs out when they frisked her mother, though she did not know if they put them on.(Pager, Robertson and Dixon, 9/19)
The Associated Press:
Women Die In Flooded Van Driven By South Carolina Deputies
As South Carolina rivers overflowed from Florence's torrential rain, deputies taking two women to a mental health facility drove into floodwaters that engulfed their van and trapped the women inside, officials said Wednesday. The two deputies worked to free the women, who were being transported Tuesday night as part of a court order, but were not able to save them from the back of the van, Horry County Sheriff Phillip Thompson told reporters. (Kinnard, 9/20)
The Washington Post:
S.C. Florence Deaths: Horry County Sheriff’s Detainees Die When Floodwaters Sweep Away Transport Van
By the time a rescue team arrived, the deputies were stranded on top of the van. It was too late for the women. Richardson said a diver was able to get a look at the bodies, but as of Wednesday afternoon the van and women remained submerged. “They’re in a ditch,” the coroner said. “It’s deep, swift, dark and contaminated. You’ve got snakes, tree limbs and trash.” A dive team was assembling to extract the women, he said, but he was not sure when conditions would allow it. (Selk, 9/19)
Recovering From Florence, Hospitals Get An Outside Assist
When Atrium Health's mobile hospital unit arrived into Burgaw, N.C., on Monday from its home-base in Charlotte, residents of the rural area had been without medical care for days in the wake of Hurricane Florence. They lined up for help even as the medical team was setting up in a Family Dollar parking lot. The area's Pender Memorial Hospital, a critical access hospital, was evacuated ahead of the storm and remained closed because of flooding. The nearest open hospital sat at least 50 miles to the south in Wilmington, N.C., a city unreachable by ground transportation after rising floodwaters cut if off from the rest of the state. (Livingston, 9/19)
Do Hurricanes' Low Barometric Pressure Trigger Births?
Have you heard the theory that low air pressure during a hurricane can cause a surge in births? Supposedly a steep drop in barometric pressure makes it easier for a baby to pop out. As Hurricane Florence ripped through the Carolinas, we wondered if that was really true. "It's one of those old wives' tales," said Dr. Hal Lawrence, executive vice president and CEO of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (Cohen, 9/19)
Kaiser Health News:
Chaos And Agitation: Helping A Patient Survive A Hurricane
As Hurricane Florence barreled toward her coastal community, Patty Younts grappled with a question: Where should a person with dementia go? Her husband, Howard, 66, suffers from a type of dementia called posterior cortical atrophy, which has robbed him of short-term memory and made him almost blind. Their home on Pawley Island in South Carolina, where they have lived for more than 30 years, lay in a mandatory evacuation zone. Staying could mean exposing themselves to raging winds and a storm surge. But leaving would mean upending the familiar routines and sense of security that her husband relies on. (Bailey, 9/20)
The Washington Post:
Hurricane Florence, ‘Just A Cat 1,’ Reveals Flaw With Saffir-Simpson Scale
Rolling across the Atlantic Ocean early last week, bearing down on the Carolinas, Hurricane Florence grew into a Category 4 storm, nearly a 5 — and that got everyone’s attention. People know that a Cat 5 is as big and bad as a storm can get. In Craven County, N.C., authorities changed their voluntary evacuation order to “mandatory” for all 105,000 residents. Then Florence ran into some shearing winds, and downshifted to a Cat 3 — and then a Cat 2. (Achenbach and Wax-Thibodeaux, 9/19)
The Washington Post:
Floods Prevent Inspectors From Studying Environmental Harm
Aerial photographs show widespread devastation to farms and industrial sites in eastern North Carolina, with tell-tale trails of rainbow-colored sheen indicating potential contamination visible on top of the black floodwaters. However, conditions remain so bad more than five days after Hurricane Florence made landfall that the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality said its inspectors have been unable to visit the hardest hit areas or collect samples of the floodwater for lab testing. The agency’s regional office in Fayetteville had one foot of water inside, while other locations were without electricity. (Biesecker, 9/20)