Staff members Damon Taugher and Brett Williams met Thursday in San Diego with the chief logisticians for CalFire and San Diego Fire and Rescue, picked up Johnson & Johnson-donated material at the Navy Yard, and spent the day delivering surgical masks, inhalers, wheelchairs, and personal care supplies today at shelters and clinics in the area.
San Diego Fire and Rescue today distributed over 40,000 of the masks delivered yesterday to local residents and emergency personnel. From our warehouse in Santa Barbara, an additional eight emergency-supply shipments were trucked to clinics in the fire-affected region, bringing to 16 the number of specific orders filled in the past three days.
Taugher and Williams reported that the Qualcomm Stadium evacuation site is planned to be closed down Friday, as will roughly half of the 40 to 45 shelters in the region that had been opened earlier this week. The team supplied the following sites yesterday:
- Mid-City Community Clinic in City Heights, San Diego
- Mountain Health and Community Services, Campo, CA. Mountain Health is 13 miles from the Harris fire and has been operating a shelter, a 24-hour medical clinic, conducting home visits to residents unable to evacuate, feeding shelter residents, and has been forced to operate on generator power due to downed power lines. The clinic is among the nearly 100 clinics that Direct Relief supports on an ongoing basis and to which a $10,000 cash grant was provided following the 2003 fires in the area.
- YMCA shelters via the main distribution center and directly at the YMCA shelter in Imperial Beach
In addition to aid delivered personally by Taugher and Williams in Direct Relief’s equipment, Direct Relief’s main warehouse in Santa Barbara completed another three emergency orders of specifically requested material. The combined material aid is worth $380,264 (wholesale).
With the closure of shelters, Direct Relief will continue to identify specific needs at medical clinics and direct aid on an as-needed, specific-request basis. Our warehouse headquarter’s proximity to the fire-affected region allows orders to be supplied within hours. This also will avoid a commonly occurring problem in emergency relief efforts that stems from large volumes of aid material arriving in the theater of operations and attempting to manage warehousing, inventory, and distribution through makeshift processes.
We were notified Thursday by several companies that they would be directing cash contributions to Direct Relief to assist with our clinic support efforts in the fire-affected region. We are extremely grateful to these companies for their generous contributions, as well as to the individuals who have entrusted us with their resources to help those affected by the fires.
In addition, several product donor companies have informed us that they would either send additional product or fill specific requests we present to them from clinics.
Consistent with past practices and Direct Relief policy, contributions received for the fires will be applied entirely to fire-relief and recovery activities. 100 percent of funds we receive for the fires will be spent on directly related activities, with no deduction for administrative expenses, fundraising expenses (none of which have been incurred), or to pay salaries of existing staff members that have been deployed to the fire-response effort.
With the proceeds of a bequest received last year, Direct Relief now pays all its own organization’s overhead administrative and fundraising expenses.
Because the product needs are being largely met with existing or incoming inventory and transport costs are being fulfilled by FedEx, we expect that our cash expenses for our core activities will remain very modest. Therefore we intend to use the cash to assist the nonprofit clinics in the areas that have experienced unbudgeted increases in patient visits, supply usage, staff costs and decreased revenue in connection with the nearly weeklong emergency.
These clinics operate typically on a one percent or less margin, so our aim is to ensure they can maintain their service levels to working poor, uninsured patients as the immediate emergency subsides. The loss of a week’s wages for many low-income service workers or agricultural workers is not something Direct Relief can address, but investing cash grants into the clinics that serve those who have the least ability to absorb a financial interruption makes the most sense.
This is the same approach we took in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita with funds that we received and did not need to finance our medical assistance program, and it worked well to infuse financial resources directly into the frontline health clinics serving people in the affected region.