Nearly three weeks after the devastating tornadoes initially hit the Oklahoma City area – followed by continued storms, severe flooding and the widest tornado in U.S. history - Direct Relief’s emergency response team continues to get critical medicines and medical supplies to people affected.
With the Moore Medical Center completely destroyed by the tornado, Direct Relief’s local network of community health care providers are working to make sure the increased health care needs for both acute and chronic conditions are met for people who are medically underserved.
Since the storms, 37 deliveries of life-saving supplies valued at more than $790,000 have been sent to 10 partner health center and clinics in the area treating people in need.
“The support and assistance [Direct Relief] provides gives us the ability to help others,” said Kimberly Crawford of Southeast Missouri Health Network (SEMO), whose staff was on the ground soon after the storms hit.
Health-related risks aren’t over when the storms end. About half of tornado-related injuries occur after the storm, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Stepping on nails or other sharp debris, being hit by falling objects from damaged buildings and risk of fire, electrocution or an explosion from damaged power lines, gas lines, and electrical systems are all concerns for people near the devastated areas.
Staff from SEMO drove a mobile medical unit filled with medicines and supplies from New Madrid, Mo. to Moore, Okla. and traveled street to street, providing basic first aid and other needed care to people trying to salvage what they could of their personal belongings. Direct Relief helped SEMO purchase the mobile unit after they experienced the deadly tornadoes in Joplin, Mo. two years ago.
“The relief effort in Moore went very well. The tornado victims were so appreciative of what we were trying to assist with,” said Crawford.
Additionally, shipments of tetanus vaccines from Direct Relief allowed responders from Community Health Centers, Inc. to provide multiple tetanus vaccine clinics for people helping with debris clean up, including fire department employees, tornado survivors and volunteers to protect them from infection. While providing the vaccine clinics, staff saw quite a few survivors with injuries and medication needs.
To help people who were left without livable homes, Direct Relief sent personal care supplies such as soap, shampoo, toothbrushes and toothpaste as well as over-the-counter items to six evacuee shelters, outreach sites, and aid stations run by the American Red Cross. These items help people displaced meet their most basic needs.
As response efforts continue, Direct Relief is thankful to be working with dedicated staff at its health center partners on the ground; its 35 corporate supporters who have made product available for people in dire need; and FedEx who is providing in-kind transportation.