Hurricane Maria, a category 3 storm, is passing over Puerto Rico. Winds as high as 115 mph have uprooted trees and heavy rain is causing major flooding throughout the island’s interior.
The storm is expected to leave widespread structural damage in its wake, and the entire island was reportedly without power on Wednesday afternoon.
The loss of power presents a range of health risks. Patients on dialysis and other forms of life support are at grave risk if their medical equipment powers down.
Even before Puerto Rico was struck before Hurricane Irma, Direct Relief was coordinating with the Puerto Rico Department of Health, Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response regarding emergency response activities. Direct Relief is currently working with contacts at the country’s emergency operations center to gather a list of needs.
The two municipal islands of Culebras and Vieques, located to the east of Puerto Rico, were affected by Hurricane Irma. Four shipments, including antibiotics, wound care and other medical supplies, are scheduled to leave for these municipalities Tuesday.
Puerto Rico is currently caring for about 120 dialysis patients from other parts of the Caribbean that are currently being housed in hotels. Direct Relief is in contact with physicians caring for many of those patients and working on a needs list for insulin and other required medications.
Direct Relief is also responding to emergency medical needs in other hurricane-affected parts of the Caribbean. Multiple shipments of medical aid have gone out to St. Maarten, British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
Direct Relief has also received requests for medical aid from two medical distributions centers that will be a hub for donations going to medical clinics seeing patients affected by Hurricane Maria. Several shipments are scheduled to depart this week.