Shipments of requested medical aid, including vaccines to protect against tetanus, left Direct Relief’s warehouse Thursday, bound for health centers in communities still reeling from flooding in Nebraska. The flooding, caused by heavy rains and melting snow, has contributed to the deaths of at least three people in Nebraska and Iowa.
Seventy-five percent of Nebraska’s 93 counties have declared states of emergency, and Direct Relief has been in contact with health providers across the region. On Thursday, shipments left Direct Relief’s warehouse bound for Good Neighbor Community Health Center, which is based in Columbus, Nebraska, but which also operates a site in Fremont, which was badly impacted by flooding.
The shipment included Tdap vaccines, requested for immunization clinics the health center has been coordinating, which will continue, throughout the week. As floodwaters recede and residents return to their homes, health concerns from exposure to black mold and respiratory infections to tetanus, which can enter the body through a break in the skin.
People involved in cleanup efforts or exposed to floodwaters or debris should be vaccinated against tetanus, and clinicians in Nebraska are working to hold vaccination clinics. The vaccines sent out Thursday will be used at immunization clinics in Columbus, North Bend and Fremont communities, where hundreds of people are still displaced.
In addition to the Tdap vaccines, personal care items were also shipped for people still displaced from their homes and living in shelters. Insect repellant and hand sanitizer was also requested and shipped. Missouri Primary Care Association contacted Direct Relief this week about health centers in that state that are working in impacted communities.
Northwest Health Services, based in St. Joseph, Missouri, was impacted by the recent flooding. The health center has sites in 16 different counties across the northwest region of the state.
Though the health facilities escaped damage, the communities surrounding the sites in three counties, particularly in Mound City, are struggling. Water levels in the nearby Missouri River and its tributaries continue to rise and additional rain storms are expected to hit within the next week.
Several levees in the area have broken or are at risk for breaking. Clinical staff at Northwest Health Services said that the greatest needs for the area are water, hygiene supplies, tetanus vaccines, and personal protective equipment for clean-up.
Direct Relief is working to coordinate shipments of needed aid to the health center there, and across the region.