Doctor gives insight on dangers linked to floodwaters

Anderson volunteered in Louisiana after Katrina

Doctor gives insight on dangers...

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Thousands of people with health issues are flooding emergency shelters in Texas following Hurricane Harvey.

Many people have pre-existing conditions while others are showing up new illnesses linked to extreme exposure to contaminated water. 

"It's going to be a problem," said Doctor Tom Anderson, Sansum Clinic

Anderson is an urgent care physician in Santa Barbara. In 2005, Anderson joined thousands of people who wanted to make a difference and lend a helping hand to people who evacuated their homes due Hurricane Katrina. 

Anderson's mother is from Louisiana so he felt like the people who are affected were "his people." He spent two weeks helping thousands of patients. Most of them suffered bacterial infections because they were stranded in contaminated water for too long. 

"It doesn't take very much in terms of a bacterial load to really inoculate the broken skin. It can be a portal of entry for bacteria," said Anderson. 

Many people walked up to 80 miles in deep water to find emergency shelters. 

"They came to the convention center with no identification. No medication. A lot of diabetics with crazy high blood sugars that we treated on the spot. People who had infections from the dirt water. Abscess that we had to open and drain and of course just a lot of emotional issues," said Anderson. 

There weren't many computers and technology available inside the evacuation shelters. Doctors like Anderson had to write down everything by hand, but he considers his time in Louisiana a memorable experience. He met patients that he kept in touch with. 

Anderson is no stranger to volunteering. Since 2006, a year after Hurricane Katrina, Anderson has traveled to Haiti to help impoverished communities twice a year. 

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