Putnam County leaders warn about possible well water contamination following Hurricane Matthew

by Lorena Inclan, originally posted on October 14, 2016


Hurricane Matthew has not only left homeowners with property damage but now we’re learning its flooding is causing a major health concern.

Capt. Paul Flateau of Putnam County Emergency Management Services said well water may have been contaminated during the storm.

“If the head of the well was under water for any amount of time, it could’ve gotten contaminants in it and also if the power was out for any amount of time,” said Flateau.

Flateau said microscopic bacteria and parasites may have seeped into well water because of the massive flooding caused by Hurricane Matthew.

“Twenty-five to 50 people have been treated with signs and symptoms of the water-borne illnesses but because we didn’t know that they were on well water. They were never tested,” said Flateau.

There’s no way of knowing if those people got ill after drinking contaminated well water but officials are erring on the side of caution.

Getting the word out is key, which is why Flateau is working with the school district to create a video warning homeowners.

If you’re on well water and you experience symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps and in some cases, fever, you should see a doctor.

“We want them to get it tested and disinfected prior to them drinking and getting sick from it,” said Flateau.

The warning only applies to those using private well water.

St. Johns County is also warning people who are on septic tanks and private drinking wells about the concerns however. So far, however, there have been no reports of illnesses in that county.

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