Emergency Update: Northern California Flooding

On Feb. 24, 2017, in response to requests from Lake County Public Health and Santa Clara County Better Health Pharmacy in San Jose, CA, Direct Relief sent five shipments containing items such as prescription medication and hygiene products. With a value of more than $15,400 and weight exceeding 1,910 pounds, this shipment will meet urgent health needs in the area after severe weather and record-setting flooding devastated parts of Northern California.

Kimberly Baldwin, emergency preparedness coordinator at County of Lake Health Services Department, reported that many individuals have been forced out of their homes due to flooding. As a result, healthcare facilities have seen an increase in patients in need of shelter and medical care.

Direct Relief has also extended offers of assistance to California State Responders, health centers and clinics in the region.

The offers include essential supplies and medications, including those to manage chronic conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, and hypertension – conditions that can become acute crises when certain medications are unavailable to people who depend on them.

In emergency situations, people often leave their medications behind or find that evacuation centers lack the cold storage needed to keep medications like insulin at the required temperature. As a result, people with chronic health conditions – primarily diabetes, asthma and hypertension – are at heightened risk.

Direct Relief is a member of California’s Business Utility & Operations Center (BUOC) and also works with the California Primary Care Association and regional primary care coalitions to ensure that community health centers and clinics have the medical resources they need to care for vulnerable populations during emergencies and on an ongoing basis. Since 2009, Direct Relief has provided more than $100 million in medications and other supplies to 532 community clinics, health centers and other organizations in California.

Community health centers and clinics serve as the medical home for more than 5.6 million Californians. Patients at these safety-net facilities are among the most vulnerable generally, and particularly so in emergencies.  In turn, these facilities often play a central role in disasters, averting medical emergencies by ensuring primary health care remains available.

Kimberly Baldwin, emergency preparedness coordinator at County of Lake Health Services Department, reported that many individuals have been forced from their homes due to flooding. Photo by County of Lake Health Services Department. 

As the only humanitarian nonprofit licensed to distribute prescription medications in all 50 states, Direct Relief is acutely sensitive to the health crises that can arise in mass evacuations.

Direct Relief will continue to monitor the situation in the coming days.

Further Reading

Hundreds rescued in San Jose as floodwaters rise

CLOSE SALINAS, Calif. – The “atmospheric river” walloping California with drenching rains and gale-force winds prompted daring water rescues Tuesday and kept thousands of residents from flooded or threatened homes. Hundreds were rescued from their flooded homes in San Jose by crews steering boats full of people, some with babies and pets, in chest-deep water.

Powerful storms continue to batter Northern California amid concern about levees

An “atmospheric river” continued to batter parts of Northern California on Tuesday, causing widespread flooding. The heavy rains prompted the National Weather Service to warn of a dam failure outside Carson City, Nev., saying that it was “not a drill” and that residents should “move to higher ground now.”

Latest storm gone but Northern California flooding fears grow as dams overflow

MODESTO, Calif. — Communities downstream from a Northern California reservoir gushing water for the first time in 20 years braced for flash floods and evacuations after authorities warned them to prepare for rising rivers and creeks.