Preparing New Orleans, Gulf Coast for direct hit from Isaac


Direct Relief's hurricane prep packs arrive at a health center
Direct Relief's hurricane prep packs arrive at a health center

As New Orleans and the U.S. Gulf Coast prepare for Isaac to make landfall, Direct Relief confirmed today that more than a dozen nonprofit clinics and health centers in the projected cone of the storm’s path have received pre-positioned Hurricane Preparedness Packs to accommodate emergency health needs that may arise.

These facilities are among 50 throughout nine hurricane-prone states stocked with Direct Relief’s ready-to-use hurricane preparedness pack. The medical relief organization has been monitoring the supply needs at more than 85 health clinic partners in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas as Tropical Storm Isaac moves north in the Gulf of Mexico, and is ready to send additional medical resources if needed.

Direct Relief’s Hurricane Preparedness program –the largest effort of its kind in the U.S. – is a million-dollar initiative that pre-positions large quantities of medicines and supplies at nonprofit health centers, clinics, and hospitals in at-risk areas to be used during emergencies to treat vulnerable people. The pre-positioning of these medical resources is a key component of Direct Relief’s emergency preparedness efforts and ongoing assistance to partner clinics to facilitate a fast, efficient response when a disaster strikes.

“Smart preparation is the best defense when a hurricane strikes. Community clinics and health clinics are the linchpin of an effective response and speedy recovery,” said Damon Taugher, Director of USA Programs at Direct Relief. “It is critical that clinics in areas most often hit by extreme weather are bolstered with additional supplies to utilize when the devastation first occurs.”

Since 2007, Direct Relief has equipped at-risk health facilities with Hurricane Preparedness Packs full of medical materials to treat 100 patients for a three-day period – about the time it takes to clear roads and open transportation channels. The contents of the prep packs are versatile and can also be used to treat patients with chronic diseases should they become displaced by storms and lose access to their medications or medical care. The international versions of the packs are much larger modules, containing enough supplies to treat 1,000 people for a month following a disaster. The program has grown each year, scaling from five sites in 2007 to 50 in 2012.

Direct Relief is able to supply the Hurricane Prep Packs through donations from pharmaceutical and medical corporations and through a long-standing relationship with FedEx to assist in shipping and logistics. The Prep Packs are provided free of charge to the healthcare facilities.

This Wednesday marks seven years since Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Louisiana, becoming the most costly and one of the five most deadly natural disasters in U.S. history. Direct Relief was in a position to help following Katrina, providing medicines and medical supplies to healthcare providers treating people who were affected by the emergency. In 2005 alone, Direct Relief delivered more than $47 million in medical aid and $4.6 million in cash grants to help rebuild the healthcare system in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. In the past seven years Direct Relief has supported over 200 health facilities in the Gulf States with over $85 million in medical aid.

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