With Hurricane Gustav poised to strike the U.S. Gulf Coast after claiming lives in the Caribbean, humanitarian medical aid organization Direct Relief International is sending additional relief materials to complement its pre-positioned hurricane preparedness materials distributed in high-risk areas.
Today, shipments of specifically requested emergency medical materials were sent to:
- David Raines Community Health Center of Shreveport, Louisiana;
- Morehouse Community Medical Center of Bastrop, Louisiana; and
- Primary Health Care Services of Monroe, Louisiana.
Their contents included basic first-aid materials, antibiotics, personal care products, and supplies for diabetics valued at a total of $13,000 for all three shipments. All three clinics are operating alternate care sites at shelters in their respective areas. More shipments will be planned as necessary to help meet clinic demand.
These materials were generously donated by Abbott, BD, CVS, Johnson & Johnson, Matrixx, and Miltex. FedEx is transporting the materials to the recipients overnight free of charge. With the Labor Day holiday weekend fast approaching in the U.S., swift response was key in determining partner needs today.
To supply partners for the hurricane season, Direct Relief delivered Hurricane Preparedness Packs in July to the Dominican Republic and Jamaica, as well as domestically in the states of Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. The packs, which contain enough materials to treat 100 patients for a range of conditions for a 72-hour period, were developed after careful analysis of the healthcare conditions following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which struck the Gulf three years ago today.
In the three years since Katrina and Rita, Direct Relief has supported safety-net clinics and community health centers along the Gulf Coast with $47 million in medical material aid and $4.6 million in cash assistance.
Direct Relief has also contacted five of its partner groups working in the Dominican Republic and Haiti to offer assistance. Before reaching hurricane strength, Gustav flooded Haiti and caused landslides in the Dominican Republic, killing at least 59 people in its wake. Standing water, combined with a displaced population, could lead to significant public health issues.
“Standing water creates a breeding ground for a range of diseases, including those that cause severe diarrhea, which can be deadly if untreated,” said Emergency Response Coordinator Brett Williams. “We saw a similar situation arise after Cyclone Nargis struck Myanmar in May.”
As with all its emergency response efforts, Direct Relief is communicating frequently with healthcare partners treating people affected by Gustav to deliver the most effective aid possible, both in the U.S. and in the Caribbean.