(Editor’s note: This story was updated on June 22, 2017, at 9:45 a.m.)
As Tropical Storm Cindy made landfall Thursday morning, the storm weakened to a depression, but severe flooding and extreme weather still remain a concern for many in Cindy’s path. Direct Relief stands ready to support healthcare facilities in communities that could see high winds and rising waters this week.
An estimated 17 million people were under a storm warning Wednesday, and heavy rains were expected to extend from the South as far north as the Ohio Valley Thursday and Friday.
Cities like Lake Charles, Louisiana, have already experienced flash flooding, with knee-deep water reported in some areas.
Portions of Mississippi have received almost 10 inches of rain from the storm system so far. The National Weather Service stated that flooding is expected to continue throughout the region.
Extreme rain amounts of 12 inches or more could happen in localized areas, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Along with flash flooding and high winds, tornadoes may also result. A tornado watch is in effect for portions of southern Alabama, eastern Louisiana, southern Mississippi and western Florida, according to the National Weather Service.
Direct Relief continues to be in contact with 150 partner health clinics and facilities that may be affected by storm impacts. Direct Relief is also communicating with primary care associations in Texas and Louisiana, as well as the National Association of Community Health Centers and the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics. The Primary Care Association Emergency Management Advisory Coalition has also been contacted.
Atlantic hurricane season officially began June 1, and in preparation for storms to come, Direct Relief prepositioned medical supplies in communities vulnerable to the storms. The Hurricane Preparedness Packs were deployed to nine vulnerable U.S. states – including those threatened by Tropical Storm Cindy – as well as five Caribbean and Central American countries.
Together, the packs include enough supplies to treat tens of thousands of people for trauma or chronic conditions in the aftermath of hurricanes or other destructive weather events. The effort eliminates delivery delays and allows medical professionals to treat injured or ill patients quickly when an emergency strikes.
In emergency situations, people who depend on medications for chronic conditions – primarily diabetes, asthma, and hypertension – are particularly at risk if their medications are unavailable. People often leave their medication at home during mass evacuations. Also, power outages can compromise insulin or other supplies that require refrigeration.
People vulnerable to storms also tend to be those who are most vulnerable in general. Those with disabilities or language barriers may be unable to evacuate or receive early warning communications. Elderly residents and those without access to transportation may be unable to flee a storm’s path in time. Poverty is also a vulnerability factor, and people without the means to pay for a place to stay and transportation can also find themselves at risk.
Direct Relief is able to supply the hurricane preparedness packs free of charge to safety-net healthcare facilities, thanks to donations from individuals, pharmaceutical and medical corporations, and through a long-standing relationship with FedEx.
Key corporate donors to the program include Abbott, AbbVie, Alcon Laboratories, AstraZeneca, BD, CVS Corporation, Eli Lilly & Company, KVK-Tech, Magno-Humphries Labs, Merck, Pfizer, Sagent Pharmaceuticals, Sanofi Pasteur, Vaseline ® and others.
Should any facilities impacted by Tropical Storm Cindy request additional storm assistance, Direct Relief will respond immediately with emergency medicines and supplies.
The center of the storm hit just south of Lake Charles, Louisiana, the National Weather Center’s Hurricane Center said. But the heaviest downpours are expected in East Texas, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle. As the storm moves northwest, the Gulf Coast will continue seeing heavy rains, winds of 40-50 mph and increased moisture, CNN meteorologist Michael Guy said.