Direct Relief Deploys Country’s Largest Hurricane Preparedness Program as Experts Urge Preparedness, Predict “Extremely Active” Season
As the nation braces for the official start of hurricane season on June 1, humanitarian organization, Direct Relief is deploying $2 million of medical essentials in specially designed hurricane-preparedness packs to dozens of its health clinic partners in at-risk communities along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts, the Caribbean, and Central America.
The packs and the extensive pre-positioning effort guard against storm-related health risks by providing portable stockpiles of medications and supplies that are most needed in the aftermath of a hurricane.
Fifty of Direct Relief’s partner nonprofit health centers and free clinics in nine states – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia – will receive the packs this week. More than 35 million people live in coastal areas from Texas to North Carolina and are at risk from powerful hurricanes.
Direct Relief developed the packs for nonprofit clinics and health centers in the U.S. following its extensive responses to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 and its subsequent work with the Texas Blue Ribbon Commission on Emergency Preparedness and Response. The packs contain more than 160 separate items identified by experience, usage, and adjusted based on ongoing feedback and experience from partner organizations in an expanding number of states each year since the program began in 2007.
Each U.S. Hurricane Preparedness Pack holds enough medical supplies to treat 100 patients for a variety of conditions, from basic trauma injuries to chronic illnesses, for a 72-hour period. Direct Relief also sent 15 International Hurricane Preparedness Modules – a larger version of the U.S. prep packs – to its partners in the Caribbean and Central America. The International Modules contain supplies to care for 5,000 people for one month.
Last week, the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration’s Climate Prediction Center released it the 2013 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook, forecasting an active or extremely active season. Between now and the end of the Atlantic hurricane season (Nov. 30) NOAA predicts 13 to 20 named storms, of which seven to 11 could become hurricanes. Three to six of those hurricanes could be major, with winds 111 mph or greater.
Emergency stockpiling efforts traditionally have been frustrated or abandoned because of uncertainty regarding the appropriate size and contents of inventory, as well as ongoing management to ensure quality when emergencies do not occur. Direct Relief’s program addresses these obstacles through annual resupply and by authorizing the materials to be absorbed into clinics’ general inventory to provide care for low-income patients at the end of hurricane season.
Direct Relief is the only nonprofit organization licensed to distribute prescription medications in all 50 states and maintains an ongoing support program through which charitable medications and medical supplies are provided to more than 1,000 locally run nonprofit clinics and health centers nationwide. These nonprofit health centers and free and charitable clinics are an essential part of the healthcare safety net for people in communities throughout the United States and collectively provide primary health care services to more than 20 million people.