Hurricane Sandy Relief & Recovery

On October 25, 2012, Hurricane Sandy hit Haiti, Jamaica, and Cuba, taking 72 lives and affecting approximately 5 million people. As Hurricane Sandy made landfall in New Jersey on October 29, it collided with an already powerful winter storm system, creating a “super storm.” Destructive winds, heavy rainfall, and storm surge flooding hit both New York and New Jersey with immense force. As a result of this massive storm covering a considerably large area and tidal surges exceeding 13 feet, an estimated $50 billion in damages resulted, making it the second costliest storm in the history of the United States.

Direct Relief is acutely sensitive to the needs of those who are most vulnerable in emergency situations, and we are working closely with partner nonprofit clinics and health centers in the affected areas that serve people who are vulnerable every day to understand what is needed and mobilize charitable resources to help address those needs.”  - Thomas Tighe, Direct Relief President & CEO

Here are 3 ways Direct Relief continues to deliver a world of good to people affected by Hurricane Sandy >>>>

1. Helping People who are Most Vulnerable

by focusing relief efforts on the health facilities that serve people who rely on the healthcare safety net for essential services. 

It is critical in the storm’s aftermath to support the existing, nonprofit community clinics and health centers that provide services to the people who are most vulnerable. That’s why Direct Relief has made the private charitable resources, being so generously given by private supporters, available to the safety-net facilities on the front lines in these communities.

100% of donations for Hurricane Sandy Relief will be used exclusively for that effort.

The people who receive care at America’s nonprofit safety-net clinics and health centers—and the facilities themselves—are least able to financially absorb this type of blow and face the most difficult challenges bouncing back. These facilities and their patients need help during this critical period and they also need to sustain and serve the same people in the same communities one year, and five years, from now.

Direct Relief has provided 86 emergency deliveries of medicines and supplies valued at $2.2 million  to 35 safety-net health centers and clinics in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

Follow all of Direct Relief’s Hurricane Sandy relief efforts on the blog.

2. Extending the Reach of Relief

by partnering with the National Association of Community Health Centers to better help people in need.  

Direct Relief joined with the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) to establish a special fund to support the patients of nonprofit health centers and clinics in areas affected by Hurricane Sandy. To date, $1.5 million has been committed to the fund.

All contributions to the Sandy Safety-Net Fund will be used exclusively to support nonprofit healthcare safety-net facilities and related activities in affected communities.

Direct Relief and NACHC have worked together on a series of initiatives, beginning with Hurricane Katrina, to mobilize private charitable resources for the benefit of patients at nonprofit safety-net health centers and clinics and on emergency preparedness and response activities.

In order to continue to direct resources where most needed, it is critical to understand the unmet needs as the immediate relief efforts turn into longer-term recovery and resiliency efforts.

In early February 2013, Direct Relief hosted the Hurricane Sandy Health Taskforce Meeting in New York to more appropriately and accurately target the continuing needs of the healthcare safety net following Hurricane Sandy. The meeting brought together representatives from health centers, state primary care associations, and NACHC, as well as officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Health and Human Services, and Health Resources and Services Administration.

Among the topics discussed was the important role health centers play in their communities after emergencies, the benefits of mobile medical vans, the impact of lost revenue, and the difficulties in getting access to state and federal funds. Health centers throughout New York and New Jersey documented more than $25 million in losses, and to date have received zero public dollars and limited private resources. Direct Relief and NACHC will support affected health centers through the Hurricane Sandy Safety Net Fund, which will be directed at those health facilities that were severely impacted.

To help rebuild the regional healthcare safety net, Direct Relief awarded over $1.8 million in cash grants to 27 nonprofit health centers and community health service organizations which experienced flooding and severe damage to their facilities.

3. Big Data vs. Big Storm

Ensuring effectiveness by using the best tools. 

Direct Relief helps safety-net facilities get back on their feet in part through big data analysis of a range of relevant, dynamic data sources. Accurate and effective public health emergency response demands deep understanding of the context and the details of chaotic situations.

Using analytics and mapping software from technology partners, Palantir and Esri, Direct Relief was able to better understand needs on the ground and deploy appropriate resources to those areas. Beginning with preparedness activities driven by social vulnerability and health risk analysis, and extending through meteorological investigations, rapid scrutiny of shipping histories and continual monitoring of clinic status, shelters, pharmacies, and power outages within a common framework, Direct Relief connects clinics with essential medical resources by using the best insights available to assess needs, scale problems and track the rapid pace of events.

Knowledge of what was happening in areas affected by Superstorm Sandy and how Direct Relief’s actions impacted emergency response goals and objectives was critical to making intelligent decisions on the ground. By using sophisticated technology, Direct Relief was able to build situational awareness – an important but often elusive element of successful decision-making in emergency response contexts.

Sandy Relief in Haiti: Preparation Saves Lives

Hurricane Sandy’s heavy rains brought flooding that resulted in over 50 deaths and affected more than 200,000 people in Haiti. The rains also brought increased concerns for a spike and spread of cholera due to damage to water filtration systems leading to a lack of clean water as well as a lack of adequate sewage and waste treatment facilities.

Direct Relief’s pre-positioned hurricane modules have proved vital to the relief and recovery efforts in Haiti. Valued at over $50,000, the hurricane module contains enough antibiotics, wound care supplies, nutritionals, food products, oral re-hydration, needles, syringes, and personal care products to treat up to 5,000 people.

Longtime partner Visitation Hospital in Petite Riviere de Nippes received one module. The roads around the hospital were completely washed out and yet they saw an increase in the number of patients needing to be treated. Additionally, there is a report of a cholera outbreak in Anse-a-Veau just ten miles south of the hospital and Visitation will likely be treating these patients to save lives and help stop the spread of the outbreak.

In Port au Prince, St. Luke’s Hospital also made use of the hurricane module provided to them by Direct Relief in June in preparation of hurricane season. Their newly completed St. Mary’s Hospital in Cite Soleil serves the roughly 300,000 inhabitants of this densely populated, low-lying slum situated on the waterfront. Hurricane Sandy caused havoc in the area, bring rushing water and mud into homes, destroying whatever food stocks were available in markets, and spreading cholera.

You Can Only Do In Emergencies What You Do Every Day

Direct Relief is the first nonprofit licensed to distribute prescription medications in all 50 U.S. states. In the past year alone, Direct Relief has delivered 5,000 shipments to its network of more than 1,000 nonprofit clinics and health centers nationwide—the largest charitable program in the U.S. providing free medications and supplies to health centers treating low-income patients without insurance.

Since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, when Direct Relief was the single largest nonprofit provider of medical material aid in the affected Gulf States, the organization also has run an extensive hurricane preparedness program that pre-positions medical essentials with hospitals in the Caribbean and nonprofit clinics in hurricane-prone areas of the U.S.

Corporate Support for Sandy Relief

Healthcare companies that have donated urgently needed medicines, medical supplies, and/or nutritional items to Direct Relief’s Hurricane Sandy relief efforts include Abbott, Alcon Laboratories, Allergan, Amgen, Ansel Healthcare, AstraZeneca, Baxter, BD, Boehringer Ingelheim Cares, C.R. Bard, Cera Products, Chattem, Covidien, Drip Drop, GSMS, GlaxoSmithKline, Henry Schein, Honeywell, InstyMeds, Janssen, Johnson & Johnson, Kao, Maruho North America, Meda, Medvantx, Merck, Microflex, Mylan, Neutrogena, Omron, P&G, Prestige Brands, Sanofi US, Sanofi Pasteur, Sappo Hill Soapworks, Tea Tree Therapy, and Teva.

Longtime supporter FedEx provided in-kind transportation services to help send medical supplies to clinics that are treating people affected by the storm.

Several companies also contributed cash to help Direct Relief infuse even more resources into affected communities: Abbott Fund, Amgen Foundation, BD, CVS Caremark Charitable Trust, FedEx, J&J, Merck, and Pfizer.

The online-gaming company Zynga is broadening philanthropic opportunity online for people wanting to help those affected by the superstorm. Gamers playing FarmVille, CityVille, and Café World are given the opportunity to give life-saving assistance through Direct Relief for people affected by Hurricane Sandy.

Direct Relief has also benefited from extensive operational support during the crisis from Palo Alto-based technology company Palantir that has enabled multiple streams of information to be organized, visualized, and analyzed to provide situational assessments and inform planning and response.

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