Direct Relief today committed an initial $200,000 in cash and made available its entire current inventories of more than $100 million to support medical relief and recovery efforts in response to the still unfolding emergency in Texas caused by Hurricane Harvey and unprecedented ongoing rainfall that has forced mass evacuations, significant property losses, and heightened health risks for vulnerable residents throughout the thousands of square miles affected.
Since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita 12 years ago, Direct Relief has annually pre-positioned specially designed emergency health stockpiles to care for displaced residents. These stockpiles were sent to nonprofit community health center partners throughout Texas and other states subject to hurricanes. Eleven of the emergency modules were deployed to Texas sites three months ago, and the Galveston County Health District already has deployed theirs for local residents. An additional hurricane pack was deployed to the same health district for their coastal health & wellness clinic last week as the storm approached and is being delivered by FedEx to the clinic as they open a second shelter site.
We're preparing to deliver basic medical supplies and medications to #HurricaneHarvey shelters.
— GCHD (@GCHDinfo) August 25, 2017
At least five people are reported dead as a result of the storms, and emergency responders reported more than 1,000 water rescues throughout Saturday night and Sunday morning, according to the National Weather Service. A public hospital in Harris County, which includes Houston, was evacuated due to power outages Sunday, and many roadways across the state, including major freeways in Houston and surrounding areas, are flooded, preventing people from leaving high-water areas. Heavy rains are anticipated to continue throughout the week, with some areas expected to receive up to 50 inches of rain.
Direct Relief staff have been in Texas since last week and Direct Relief is coordinating with the Texas Association of Community Health Centers, whose member health centers operate more than 300 health sites throughout the state, providing primary care services to more than 1.2 million residents annually. Direct Relief has worked closely with the TACHC and its members for the past 12 years and has furnished more than $61.5 million in medical material aid and financial assistance to over 200 health centers and free clinics in the state.
Throughout the Hurricane Harvey response, Direct Relief has also been communicating with the National Association of Community Health Centers, the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics, the Lone Star Charitable Clinic Association, the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters, as well as local public health officials.
“Direct Relief is deeply concerned for our friends in Texas and understands from past experience how this massively disruptive situation puts many more people at risk of chronic health conditions that are not managed as they are evacuated,” said Direct Relief President and CEO Thomas Tighe. “As always, the priority during the emergency is the safe evacuation and shelter of those in harm’s way, so we are mobilizing rapidly to avert the serious health complications that arise rapidly if not addressed.”