Flooding

From the Front Lines, Missouri Highlands Health Care

Devastating floods struck Doniphan, Missouri, a rural farming community in Ripley County, on April 30, 2017. Residents in the area quickly responded as the Current River, located in southeastern Missouri, rose nearly 13 feet above record.

Local businesses and homeowners frantically scrambled to move personal items and other possessions to higher ground, while the river demolished much of their town. Over the course of a day, families and friends watched their livelihood wash away as homes and churches were inundated.

With all access to Ripley County cut off due to widespread flooding and storms, local response efforts were crucial. Direct Relief stepped up to support these efforts with essential medical items, like antibiotics and wound care supplies, specifically requested by partner Missouri Highlands Health Care. Ripley County was one of the six counties in their service area affected by severe flooding, with many people evacuated to shelters or the homes of family members.

A local church was used as a shelter for displaced community members and to serve those in need of food and medical care. Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) vaccines, donated by Direct Relief, were first provided to frontline responders, who began rebuilding much of what was lost as flood waters receded. The vaccine is often needed to protect residents and first responders from instances where they could be exposed to contaminants. A reported 130 Tdap vaccines were given almost immediately as the community prepared its flood response.

Ripley Relief, a local relief center, was set up to provide support and resources to families impacted by the loss of over 400 homes across the county. Shipments from Direct Relief, with medical aid like first aid kits, were immediately distributed to infants, children, adults and diabetics.

“These kits went to people who had lost everything,” according to Ashley Oldham, a nurse practitioner at Missouri Highlands Health Care.

To date, Missouri Highlands Health Care has received eight shipments of medical aid with an estimated value of $75,000, from Direct Relief. In addition to 200 packs of Tdap, an emergency health kit, containing essential medicine and supplies to treat 100 patients for up to three days, was also sent.

“During a time when many of us felt so helpless, your aid and vaccines gave us a place to turn,” Ashley wrote, in a recent message to Direct Relief.

Last Friday, Direct Relief received an additional request for sunscreen and insect repellent, which will be shipped in the coming days. Missouri Highlands Health Care will also be receiving a donation of 200 doses of Hepatitis A vaccine, used to prevent infection from contaminated water sources. The vaccine will protect people as they return to their homes and begin cleanup.

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