Tropical Storm Beta is spinning off the U.S. Gulf Coast, steadily tracking towards Texas, where it’s expected to unleash several inches of rain and cause widespread flooding over the next several days.
Direct Relief is coordinating with local public health agencies and is ready to respond to any medical needs that may arise.
Though the storm is projected to make landfall Monday night, its outer bands are currently battering coastal Texas with heavy rains and gusty winds. The Gulf Coast is plastered in flash flood warnings, with storm surge predicted to reach up to 5 feet in some areas.
Over the weekend, surge flooding inundated coastal cities in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, turning roadways into rivers and drowning homes in up to 4-feet of water. The 2020 Atlantic storm season has been an active one, so much so that forecasters have exhausted the 21-letter alphabet and turned to the Greek alphabet for new storm names.
Health and Displacement
With this most recent storm, voluntary evacuations have been issued for low-lying areas across southeast Texas, including Galveston County, which – just weeks ago – was under mandatory evacuation due to Hurricane Laura.
In addition to acute injuries a storm can cause, evacuations can also present additional health challenges. Chronic disease medication is often left behind as people scramble to safety. Without treatment, these conditions can escalate into serious medical conditions, including heart attack and stroke. While these conditions require emergency care, it may not be available.
Direct Relief has pre-positioned several caches of emergency medical supplies along the Gulf Coast in preparation for hurricanes and tropical weather systems, like Beta. The medical kits include antibiotics, first aid equipment, and supplies to treat chronic disease, like diabetes and hypertension, in the aftermath of a storm.
Severe flooding can damage structures, including hospitals and emergency departments, cutting people off from care when they need it most. Under these circumstances, safety net health care providers play an important role in filling the gap in critical medical care.
By pre-positioning emergency medical supplies with free clinics and health centers, Direct Relief works to anticipate the health needs that may arise in a post-disaster setting and equip health care providers with the supplies needed to administer care.
As Tropical Storm Beta tracks towards the Gulf Coast, Direct Relief is coordinating with several public health agencies, including the Texas Office of Emergency Management and Public Health Department, voluntary disaster relief organizations, and health facilities located in the storm’s path. The emergency response team will continue to monitor the storm as it progresses and respond to requests as they arise.