Hurricane Michael has devastated portions of the Florida panhandle, and caused flooding throughout multiple states. At least 13 people are reported dead, and the storm’s impacts are still being calculated. Many communities are still in active search and rescue mode, as authorities look for survivors in the midst of destroyed homes and buildings.
Many of the worst-hit communities have yet to fully come online, with cell service and power out in those areas. More than 1.5 million people lack power in the area spanning from Florida to the Carolinas.
Portions of the U.S. received a double blow since many East Coast communities were still recovering from Hurricane Florence at the time Hurricane Michael brought winds and flooding.
Medical Needs Escalating in Impacted Areas
Several hospitals in Florida closed as a result of the storm, and were forced to evacuate patients, leaving a gap in medical care for those remaining in the communities needing care.
“It was like hell." In areas pummeled by Hurricane Michael, hospitals that didn't evacuate were scrambling to take care of their patients.https://t.co/WXBig91HYn
— The New York Times (@nytimes) October 12, 2018
Direct Relief has been in communication with health centers and clinics throughout the area, many of which are still closed with staff evacuated for safety. At least three health facilities that Direct Relief supports have been destroyed, and damage assessments are underway. Others are operating at limited capacity:
- Bond Community Health Center staff in Tallahassee staff reported they were open Friday, October 12, with limited services, including prescription refills, medical services for urgent cases, and walk-ins at their main site in Tallahassee.
- Hope Medical Clinic in Destin reported that they were closed & all clinics will be closed following local school closures until further notice.
- Tallahassee Memorial Health Care staff said partner physicians in specialties, including maternal-fetal medicine, were open at locations in Monticello, Perry, and Crawfordville, among others. The clinic’s cancer center remains closed.
- Caswell Family Medical Center, located in Yanceyville, reported closures until Monday due to dangerous road conditions.
Direct Relief staff are on the ground, and additional medical supplies, including emergency health kits, will arrive later today.
The kits contain medical supplies to treat up to 100 people for 3 to 5 days. Emergency medical backpacks, which also contain essential first aid supplies, are also being sent to equipment first responders doing triage in hurricane-damaged areas.
Direct Relief has been in close communication with the Florida Association of Community Health Centers throughout Hurricane Michael, and has worked closely with the organization during other disasters. Direct Relief has a long history of working in Florida, and has been supporting health facilities in the state with medicines and financial aid since 2009.
In 2018, Direct Relief received the Community Health Partnership Award from the Florida Association of Community Health Centers.