Irma debris causing allergies, eye injuries

Posted at 5:40 PM, Oct 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-06 18:34:16-04

It's been sitting outside your home for weeks. Now all that hurricane debris is becoming more than just an eyesore.

Local doctors tell ABC Action News the debris is causing a big health scare with bacterial infections in people's eyes. With more wind in the forecast from Hurricane Nate, things will only get worse. 

Tom Stone is growing impatient, “Enough is enough. It’s been how many weeks? I don’t understand why they’re not going away,” the Clearwater resident said exasperated. 

Jone Leck, of unincorporated Seminole says it goes beyond looks.

“I haven't been feeling well. I'm sluggish, sneezing, my eyes are red. I'm not my usual self, let me put it like that."

Leck and her neighbor David Touchton both suffer from bad allergies.

“Mold, dust mites, ragweed, trees, every tree you can think of. You name it and I have an allergy for it.”

Doctor Victoria Melcher of Eye Designs Vision has been busy with patients who have itchy, red eyes and even scratched corneas, "The more debris in the air, the more that’s going to get in your eyes and it’s very bothersome."

She’s even seeing patients with bacterial infections because of the lacerations in their eyes. Melcher says the debris from the piles at your curb are getting into the air and the small particals can blow into your eyes, “and I don’t think our windy conditions are helping,” she added.

David Touchton had enough with the sneezing and scratching, “I didn’t want to look at it anymore.”

He hauled his pile off to the Pinellas County dump on 114th Avenue N in St Pete. To his surprise, it cost him $40 bucks to ditch his own debris there! “They opened the toll roads up, why not open the dumps up for free? That makes no sense ok!

As the piles rot, Pinellas County is still charging $10 a load for a pickup truck. The reason: cleanup is estimated to cost the county $15 million dollars and in order for FEMA to reimburse county leaders, they have to weigh in every last pile.

Doctor Melcher's best advice to avoid injuries and allergies,  keep your sunglasses handy and wear them— even when it’s overcast. Also with mold and pollen counts skyrocketing, be sure to shower and rinse off before bed.