Dangerous snakes which typically resident in South Carolina’s wetlands may be displaced by the storm, driving them into populated areas, according to local zoo officials.
Thad Bowman, public relations director at Alligator Adventure zoo in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, warned heavy flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence’s landfall will likely occur along the state’s waterways, where snakes are typically found.
He noted heavy deluges could destroy snake habitats, flushing the venomous creatures into affected urban neighbourhoods.
Horry County in South Carolina is home to numerous venomous snakes, including the cottonmouth and copperhead species.
They inject venom, which causes tissue destruction and platelet loss, which causes bleeding and can cause death
Gerald O’Malley, professor of emergency medicine and toxicology at Grand Stand Medical Centre in Myrtle Beach, warned these snakes pose a serious risk to humans.
He said: “They inject venom, which causes tissue destruction and platelet loss, which causes bleeding and can cause death.”
Mr Bowman added residents should remain indoors throughout the storm, but stressed that if anyone is bitten by a snake, they should go to hospital immediately.
While many hospitals along the South Carolina coast have been closed ahead of Florence’s landfall, Conway Medical Centre on the outskirts of Myrtle Beach will remain open.
Experts noted wayward snakes are a common occurrence during extreme weather events such as hurricanes.
Accuweather warned: “They can be found swimming in water or hiding under debris and they should be avoided.”
Snakes, fire ants and alligators were found in homes following Hurricane Harvey which struck Houston, Texas in September 2017.
Brian Foster, a Texas resident, found a 10-foot alligator at his home after returning to inspect the damage following the storm.
Commenting on the trauma, he said: “I walked through the house and was looking at demo-ing the house, when I turned around and walked back through my dining room.
“I looked down, and there was a 10-foot alligator in my dining room.”
The creature was later removed by Wildernex Wildlife Control and local law enforcement officers.