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Hurricane Barry

Barry Hits as Hurricane, Lashes Louisiana

The storm puts people with chronic health conditions at particular risk.

A resident stands in flood water outside a home near Lake Pontchartrain, after Tropical Storm Barry makes landfall in Lewisburg, Louisiana U.S., on Friday, July 13, 2019. Barry is threatening to bring life-threatening floods after making landfall in Louisiana on Saturday, as the tropical storm lashes the state with as much as two feet of rain. (Photo by Nicole Craine/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
A resident stands in flood water outside a home near Lake Pontchartrain, after Tropical Storm Barry makes landfall in Lewisburg, Louisiana U.S., on Friday, July 13, 2019. Barry is threatening to bring life-threatening floods after making landfall in Louisiana on Saturday, as the tropical storm lashes the state with as much as two feet of rain. (Photo by Nicole Craine/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Barry made landfall on the Gulf Coast Saturday morning as a category 1 hurricane before being downgraded back to a tropical storm.

Despite the change in classification, Barry remains a threat.

Its slow speed (6 mph) and elongated shape could mean the most torrential rains are still to come, with up to 25 inches of rainfall expected in certain areas.

As of Saturday afternoon, more than 100,000 people in Louisiana were without power, and voluntary evacuation advisories were in effect across the state.

Mass evacuations, impassable roads, store closures, and other storm-related disruptions place a disproportionate risk on people with chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, asthma, and hypertension. If people with such conditions are unable to access the medication and care they depend on, their chronic illness can quickly escalate into an acute crisis.

During emergencies, these people often turn to community health centers and clinics for care.

In Louisiana, the 37 health centers and clinics Direct Relief supports serve a combined 289,664 patients, 132,335 of whom lack insurance.

To ensure health facilities can respond immediately to their patients’ needs during emergencies, Direct Relief pre-positions large modules of essential medicines and medical supplies throughout Louisiana and other states at the start of hurricane season.

Direct Relief first developed the pre-positioning initiative following its extensive responses to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 and its subsequent work with the Texas Blue Ribbon Commission on Emergency Preparedness and Response.

By staging supplies in strategic locations in advance of a storm, health centers and clinics already have access to the resources they need to care for a surge in patients, including antibiotics, insulin, pain relievers, inhalers, first-aid supplies, and prescriptions for behavioral health conditions.

Direct Relief has deployed additional emergency medical aid to Houston. From there, based on the evolving situation, supplies can be routed to areas of high need.

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