Living on the coast can be hard but not as hard as it once was. While we were scrambling to make sure that all of the prescriptions were updated for our patients who suffer from chronic illnesses and that folks that needed to evacuate were able to leave the city in time, I was reminded of what life was like in Mobile for physicians in an earlier time. Storms would not only bring wind and rain but the aftermath would bring Yellow Fever. No one understood why Yellow Fever would appear but they all knew that it was related to stagnant water and that hurricanes brought large amounts of that. Some physicians, clergy, nurses, and other would stay while all of the general populace that could would leave the city. The “Can’t-get-away” club, in fact, formed as a support group for those who felt compelled to stay, often at their own peril.
It was not until the 1890’s that William Gorgas, a Mobile native, identified the relationship between the outbreaks of yellow fever and the presence of the Aides aegypti mosquitos, making possible the eradication of yellow fever. Today, the Mobile County Health Department maintains a very active mosquito control program and people flee from Mobile for a concern over flooding and a loss of creature comforts more often than for a fear of death from infectious disease. Physicians continue stay and care for the sick, exhibiting a strong sense of responsibility in the face of these storms and their aftermath.