Hurricane Irma swept ashore in Florida Sunday morning, making landfall in the Florida Keys with powerful winds and significant storm surges.
The state is bracing for impacts from the Category 4 storm, and Direct Relief has staff headquartered at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami that will be responding to medical needs across the state.
The path of the storm’s eye wall, where winds are the strongest, shifted from the eastern part of the state, where many had already evacuated, to the western portion, causing people to scramble into shelters at the last minute.
Conditions in communities from Naples to Tampa and St. Petersburg are expected to worsen on Sunday, and storm surges in coastal communities may see the worst of the rising water levels, up to 15 feet in some areas,
Earlier Sunday morning, Irma pounded the Florida Keys with gusts of up to 120 miles per hour, and videos of the massive storm surge inundating the islands were circulated online.
The state has 14 prepositioned Hurricane Preparedness Packs, the most of any state in Direct Relief’s hurricane readiness program. The packs contain enough medicines and supplies to treat 100 patients for 3 to 5 days.
Direct Relief has been communicating with the Florida Association of Community Health Centers to assess the needs of healthcare clinics that may be impacted.
Direct Relief has a long history of supporting healthcare facilities in the state and has shipped more than $46 million in medical aid since 2009.