WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - New Hanover Regional Medical Center has seen a spike in emergency room visits as people cleaning up from Hurricane Florence tackle projects they ordinarily would not. Others are running into unusual hazards as a result of the storm.
A longtime and well-loved Wilmington man is one of them and he's in intensive care after having to have his leg amputated.
Ron Phelps runs the Hometown Memories of Wilmington NC Facebook page, where he posts photos from years gone by in the Cape Fear Region. He has almost 9,000 followers.
Phelps was doing some work in his yard connected to Hurricane Florence when his family says he scraped his leg and contracted a rare bacterial infection. Phelps' home is near the Intracoastal Waterway, and according to his loved ones, the bacteria that caused the infection only lives in salt water.
WECT spoke to a family friend who said Phelps is heavily sedated and fighting for his life after the injury.
Phelps' family continues to post updates on his Hometown Memories page and asks for continued prayers. They say when he comes around, he's going to be busy for days reading all the wonderful, caring messages people have shared.
In general, emergency room physicians at New Hanover Regional Medical Center say they've seen a noticeable uptick in injuries and illnesses in the wake of Hurricane Florence.
"Be extraordinarily careful," Dr. De Winter, an ER physician at NHRMC, warned. "We've seen a lot of heat-related illnesses associated with people working outside for long hours, getting tired, and then potentially falling off roofs as well.
"Also, chainsaw injuries which can be pretty severe, so I would just want everyone to be as careful as possible, and if they don't feel safe, then hire someone to do it because it's not worth hurting themselves."
Snake bites, electrocution, and food poisoning are other post-storm hazards that can overwhelm the ER after a major storm.