Tornadoes: Direct Relief Delivers Aid to Affected Areas

SANTA BARBARA, CA – To help people across the southeastern U.S. who have lost their homes or been injured in tornadoes and other severe weather, Direct Relief USA is delivering specifically requested medical aid to clinics and shelters throughout the south.

Direct Relief is the only nonprofit organization licensed to distribute prescription medications in all 50 states and maintains an ongoing support program with more than 1,000 nonprofit clinics and health centers across the country, including 168 facilities in the six states affected by recent tornadoes.

In the past week, Direct Relief USA completed a distribution of medical aid this month through its nationwide Safety Net Support program, delivering more than $756,000 in medical material to 39 health facilities in Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee.

In addition, emergency shipments have been provided to facilities in North Carolina and Arkansas following tornadoes that struck in the past two weeks.

In response to the devastating tornadoes this week, Direct Relief has activated its entire network to prioritize emergency assistance to the affected southern states.

The organization has made its current inventory of $36 million in medicines and medical supplies available for the response. Text message alerts have been sent to community clinics and health centers notifying them of available resources.

In mobilizing private resources for the response, Direct Relief has joined with a vast array of nonprofit and public agencies to coordinate assistance, as well as with dozens of healthcare companies that have offered assistance and released previously made product donations to assist in the southern states.

Damon Taugher, Director of Direct Relief USA, says: “Our hearts go out to those who have been affected by this awful tragedy. Direct Relief has worked closely with partners in these communities over the past six years and will continue to provide medical resources to assist in recovery efforts.”

As needs assessments and relief operations have begun, Direct Relief is coordinating efforts with several national contacts, which include the National Association of Community Health Centers, National Association of Free Clinics, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), through the Private Sector ESF-15 National Response Coordination Center, and Rx Response.

In the affected states, Direct Relief is coordinating its efforts with the Georgia Primary Care Association, Community Health Centers of Arkansas, Mississippi Primary Healthcare Association, and Alabama Primary Care Association.

Many clinic partners across the southeast are conducting damage assessments and identifying needs. One organization has made a specific emergency request for assistance, which Direct Relief will fulfill with transportation services donated by FedEx:

  • Semo Health Network, Sikeston, MO – Due to flooding, the Semo Health Network is housing 100 evacuated families in nearby hotels, and specifically requested maintenance medications for evacuees. Continuity of care and the availability of needed medicines are important for people with chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and asthma, which are seen in relatively high incidence among partner clinic patient populations.

Another clinic partner has made a request to assist with families whose homes have been destroyed:

  • Conway Interfaith Clinic, Conway, AR – An estimated 50 to 60 displaced people are staying in shelters after a tornado swept through the town earlier this week, damaging about 500 homes. Personal care and hygiene items ($14,382 wholesale value) are en route to the clinic today to help the people living in the shelter.

These states have been hit by the recent spate of storms, in which more than 300 people have been killed and thousands of homes destroyed, according to news reports.

Direct Relief’s emergency relief efforts and ongoing assistance to partner clinics in the U.S. facilitate a fast, efficient response when a disaster strikes. The organization’s Hurricane Preparedness Program equips clinic sites across the Gulf States each year with medical material aid that is pre-positioned before hurricane season starts. Direct Relief’s response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 has been one of the organization’s largest, rivaled only by the Haiti earthquake response in 2010.

About Direct Relief InternationalDirect Relief International is California’s largest medical relief organization, active in all 50 states and 70 countries. It works with more than 1,000 health clinics across the U.S. to assist in emergencies and an ongoing basis, providing them with free medications for people in need. The organization has been among the world’s largest medical suppliers in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, has top charity ratings, including four-star and “top-notch” rating from Charity Navigator, and a 100% fundraising efficiency rating from Forbes magazine. 

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