Fencing damaged

County environmental health supervisor Jesse Dail inspects a damaged public pool fence Wednesday at Pier Pointe West in Emerald Isle. It’s among many county pools that received fence damage during Hurricane Florence. Pools can’t open until fences are repaired. (Cheryl Burke photo)

MOREHEAD CITY — From contaminated well water to damaged pools, the County Environmental Health Department knows first-hand the after effects of Hurricane Florence.

“We’ve taken 367 (private well) water samples at 240 locations since the storm, and 89 of those had E. coli or total coliform,” Jesse Dail, environmental health supervisor, said during the Monday meeting of the County Consolidated Human Services Board. “Some wells we’ve retested as many as five times and some have chosen to drill new wells.”

Mr. Dail said residents whose wells were flooded during Hurricane Florence can still receive free testing by contacting the environmental health department.

Wells that test positive for contamination should be chlorinated, then retested.

In addition to testing wells, Mr. Dail said health inspections continue on public pools. With the public pool season beginning Monday, April 1, there are still many pools with fence damage, which will prevent a pool from opening.

He said of the county’s 265 public pools, 61 still have fence damage.

The problem for many pool owners, according to Mr. Dail, is there’s a shortage of contractors to repair the fencing.

“A fencing contractor would do well in our county right now,” he said. “The bottom line is pools must be in compliance before they can open.”

He explained that state regulations require an appropriate barrier around public pools. They must be 48 inches high, and have no larger than a 4-inch gap between slats.

Inspections also involve checking the pH and chlorine content of the water, and making sure pools have appropriate circulation systems and safety equipment.

He said the official pool season for the county is April 1-Oct. 31, and pools must be inspected annually. In addition to public pools, inspections are done at spas and for splash pads and wading pools.

Mr. Dail said health inspectors have also been busy working with the many food and lodging establishments in the county that remain closed or partially closed.

“We have visited all food and lodging establishments post-hurricane,” he said. “Fifty-six immediately closed right after the storm. We currently have 37 permitted facilities that remain closed or are partially closed.”

Mr. Dail said several restaurants and food and lodging establishments have opted to remodel during the recovery process, which is slowing down their reopening.

As for private well owners who had flooding during Hurricane Florence, they can request free testing by contacting environmental health at 252-728-8499.

Contact Cheryl Burke at 252-726-7081, ext. 255; email Cheryl@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @cherylccnt.

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