Extreme weather ripped through parts of the U.S. over the weekend, spanning several states from Texas to North Carolina, with some communities reporting destructive and deadly tornadoes.
The National Weather Service reported over 160 instances of extreme weather in the region from Friday through Sunday. Fifteen tornadoes were reported across Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee. Heavy rainfall was also reported in many areas, including Nashville, which experienced flash flooding.
Direct Relief has issued emergency assistance alerts to more than 330 partner health care organizations across multiple states.
The organization is also in communication with state groups, including primary care associations in Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee, free clinic associations, the Red Cross, and Volunteers Active in Disasters, or VOAD.
In Georgia, the town of Newnan was impacted heavily by an EF4 tornado, which brought winds of up to 170 miles per hour to the area on Friday morning. At least one person was killed as a result, and several homes were lifted off their foundations. Direct Relief been in communication with Coweta County Emergency Management about emerging needs in the Newnan community, and is also reaching out to Coweta Samaritan Clinic, located in Newnan.
Last week, Direct Relief provided Coweta Samaritan Clinic with three medical aid shipments containing a variety of chronic disease medications and medical supplies.
In Tennessee, other health facilities were also reviewing medical needs. Direct Relief staff were in communication with several health centers in impacted areas, including Neighborhood Health and Charis Health. Direct Relief on Saturday sent an emergency medical shipment to Charis Health Center, which included Covid-19 supplies such as pulse oximeters. On Monday, another emergency shipment was being prepared for departure and included inhalers, nutritionals, personal hygiene items, personal protective equipment, and over-the-counter products.
Neighborhood Health is a federally qualified health center in Nashville with 10 locations, and Charis Health, based in Mount Juliet, is a free clinic with two locations and a mobile health unit. In March 2020, both health organizations were impacted by deadly tornadoes that swept through Nashville, killing 24 people and destroying many structures.
Neighborhood Health worked to respond to impacted patients even as their Eastside Clinic in East Nashville had been badly damaged, and Charis Health administered care to patients via a mobile unit in local communities, including in a WalMart parking lot.
Immediate Health Needs and Beyond
With the most recent storms, Direct Relief will be responding to any medical needs that arise.
Often after severe weather, medical needs develop, beyond emergency trauma from the storm. Evacuees or displaced residents may be cut off from essential medicines needed to manage chronic diseases like diabetes or high blood pressure, which can result in emergency room visits, if not managed with an uninterrupted supply of medications and care.
At the health facility level, back-up power may be needed for refrigerated medicines, and hygiene kits for displaced people may also be requested. Health needs during storm recovery and clean-up also often arise, as residents move back into damaged areas to begin work, which may prompt requests for tetanus vaccines and protective gear.
Direct Relief will be monitoring requests for assistance and responding.