Critical Aid Shipments Poised for Hurricane-Impacted Caribbean


Hurricane Maria

Direct Relief staff load shipments, including emergency medicines and supplies bound for San Juan, Puerto Rico, into a FedEx vehicle Tuesday. (Lara Cooper/Direct Relief photo)

Now that Hurricane Maria has passed, the island’s residents are being confronted with incredible damage and devastation as they look to begin to rebuild their lives and care for the more than 10,000 people in shelters – both local residents and those evacuated from surrounding islands in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

Direct Relief has been in communication with the Puerto Rico Department of Health, Office of Public Health Preparedness & Response and has built a shipment of specifically requested medicines and medical supplies to assist in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. That shipment is scheduled to leave in the coming days once logistical channels are cleared.

Direct Relief’s contacts at the Emergency Operation Center have gathered initial needs for the different entities responding to the disaster. The EOC is requesting that all donations go through their official channels, which Direct Relief is uniquely positioned to do through its pre-existing representative agent for product clearances, as well as coordination directly with the Department of Health. Two areas have been identified as medical distribution centers for which Direct Relief donations will be targeted.

Support is designated for two municipal islands of Culebra and Vieques located to the east of Puerto Rico that were affected by Hurricane Irma. Four orders for these municipalities have been consolidated and are ready to ship. In addition, product is also earmarked for both residents and refugees from surrounding Caribbean islands affected by the storm (namely British and U.S. Virgin Islands, St. Martin, St. Thomas). About 2,000 people from these places are being triaged and assessed for their medical needs in Puerto Rico.

Lastly, Puerto Rico is currently caring for at least 120 dialysis patients that are currently being housed in hotels but will likely be placed in special needs shelters and will require long-term care. Direct Relief is in contact with a physician from the U.S. Public Health Service, in coordination with the EOC, who is putting together a list of insulin needs for those patients. A shipment will be built and sent in the coming week.

Direct Relief has longstanding relationships with healthcare partners throughout the island, and more than $400,000 in assistance has been sent to those clinics over the past year.

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