Health impacts surface after weeks after historic flooding in San Diego County

by 24USATVFeb. 7, 2024, 3:01 a.m. 35
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SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Two weeks after historic flooding, the health impacts of the storms are beginning to be felt.

Along Beta Street that morning, for more than 30 minutes, 81-year-old Miguel Gomez held onto his wife Martha inside their home of more than 5 decades, as the water rushed in, floating their furniture.

“I put my wife on top of the couch. I had water up to my neck. My wife took water into her lungs,” said Miguel Gomez.

After the two were rescued by firefighters, they were diagnosed with hypothermia.

“Cold. Shivering all the time,” said Gomez.

Martha was hospitalized for a week with several other issues, including pneumonia and a blood c lot in her lung.

After being discharged, she was placed on oxygen. It's unknown how long that will be needed.

Not far from the couple's home on Beta Street are two small, flooded out homes owned Koko Fajardo.

A photo of her shows her five days after the flood, as she and her husband began demoing the property. She would start wearing a mask soon after.

That's about the same time she developed a cough and other symptoms.

“Complete body aches, lingering migraine, complete congestion of my head,” said Fajardo.

Fajardo isn’t the only person feeling the health impact.

Dr. Vi Nguyen, pediatrician at Kaiser Permanente, says she's seen children sickened in the days after the flood. She says gastrointestinal illnesses are the most common ailment.

She says flood victims and volunteers vulnerable to illness, because of all the particulates in the air and water.

“All the water and mud … and they're breathing it in,” said Dr. Nguyen.

Dr. Nguyen says that exposure have led to asthma attacks, and can lead to respiratory issues like sinus infections and pneumonia.

“We know after major storm events that viral and bacterial respiratory illnesses go up,” said Dr. Nguyen.

Dr. Nguyen says if you're going to be in the flood areas, wear an N95 or KN95 mask, take a shower afterwards and wash your hands thoroughly, and use an air purifier.

A Gofundme campaign has been set up to help the Gomez family with rebuilding expenses.

Fajardo set up a Gofundme campaign to help her neighbors and general relief effort.

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