“Relentless rain has caused catastrophic flooding in the eastern United States, killing at least five people and forcing the evacuation of more than 130,000 in three states.
Remnants of Tropical Storm Lee swamped homes and businesses from Maryland to New England on Thursday and dropped up to 30cm of rain outside Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, which declared a state of emergency.
Floodwaters are now polluted with sewage and other toxins and officials warn that public health in parts of the northeastern US could be at risk from direct exposure or contaminated private water wells.
Flood warnings were in effect in northern Virginia, Delaware, Maryland and upstate New York, and flood watches were under way in other areas from Massachusetts to Washington DC, according to the National Weather Service.
In Vermont, a dozen towns flooded by Irene are still on boil-water orders 12 days later, though no waterborne illness has been reported. Similar precautions have been taken in other storm-damaged states.
Vermont’s state health department is giving away free test kits so residents can check their wells for bacteria.
Al Jazeera’s senior meteorologist, Steff Gaulter says that despite the intense activity the hurricane season is not over yet.
“The Atlantic hurricane season lasts until the end of November, so there’s plenty of time for yet more storms to strike the US and cause yet more flooding.”
Read more: Aljazeera