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A slew of major, and in some cases historic, natural disasters have emerged in recent weeks throughout the U.S. and Caribbean, including an earthquake, wildfire, flooding, and a forthcoming tropical storm, which is expected to become a hurricane.
A combination of existing relationships with disaster response agencies, safety net health clinics, and government agencies, as well as data analysis and pre-positioned supplies, have enabled Direct Relief to respond efficiently and precisely to requests after each incident.
For the latest news and response information, please read below:
A deluge of rainfall caused deadly flash floods in west Tennessee over the weekend.
At least twenty-one people were killed as a result, and 40 remained missing as of Monday. Authorities reported that the majority of the fatalities were from the town of Waverly, located about 65 miles west of Nashville.
Several counties were under emergency orders Monday, thousands in the region were without power and many connecting roads and bridges were destroyed or damaged.
Several shelters in the area had also been activated for evacuees.
TENNESSEE FLOODING RESPONSE
Direct Relief has been in communication with the Tennessee Primary Care Association, the Tennessee Red Cross, and the Tennessee Emergency Management Association to assess current medical needs and offer support.
Offers are also being extended to health center partner facilities in the impacted areas and Direct Relief will respond as requested.
A 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti on August 14 at 8:30 a.m. local time.
The earthquake’s epicenter was 77 miles west of the capital Port-au-Prince, in the vicinity of Petit-Trou-de-Nippes.
The death toll continues to climb, exceeding 2,000, with more than 12,000 injured, many in critical condition.
Tropical Depression Grace, while less severe than feared, caused flooding in earthquake-affected communities including Jacmel, Les Cayes, and Marigot, further compounding the humanitarian situation.
The flooding combined with a lack of shelter and access to clean water and sanitation drastically increases the risk of Covid-19, cholera, and other disease outbreaks.
Initial rapid assessments indicate that the earthquake destroyed 61,000 homes and damaged another 76,000.
The quake also affected 24 health facilities in the Sud, Nippes, and Grand’Anse departments, damaging the infrastructure of 20 while destroying four, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
The widespread need for medical care in the aftermath of the earthquake and widespread damage to health infrastructure is making healthcare services and medical supplies a critical focus of the overall emergency response.
According to OCHA, in the three hardest-hit areas, the health system has been severely impaired as health needs grow, making humanitarian interventions in health a critical priority to ensure access to life-saving care and other vital services.
Ongoing insecurity in the country, including gang control of the main roads leading to the affected areas, further complicates the response. Aid is currently being transported through gang areas in convoys, though security issues remain a significant impediment.
HAITI EARTHQUAKE RESPONSE
More than 192 pallets-worth of medical aid from Direct Relief totaling $12.8M has arrived recently in Haiti, is en route, or is ready for deployment.
Direct Relief is mobilizing a FedEx humanitarian emergency MD-11 aid charter of urgently needed medical supplies to Haiti (ETA 1 p.m. on August 26). The flight will hold roughly 140 pallets of antibiotics, wound care items, PPE, diagnostic supplies, medical-grade freezers, IV fluids, medical relief packs, and essential medications.
Inbound emergency shipments will be stored at Direct Relief’s Haiti warehouse and distributed by Direct Relief’s Port au Prince-based staff, enabling healthcare providers to continue providing life-saving services to their communities and patients from areas with damaged or destroyed health infrastructure.
Health facilities being supported include St. Boniface, Saint Luke’s, Albert Schweitzer, & Saint Damien’s Hospitals, the Haitian Ministry of Health, Gheskio, CORE Haiti, Project Medishare, PAHO, and others.
Six pallets containing emergency backpacks, tents, and hygiene kits will arrive early next week in Les Cayes by private charter to the Colorado Haiti Project in Petit-Trou-de-Nippes, located near the earthquake’s epicenter.
Emergency medical supplies, which Direct Relief prepositioned at Saint Damien’s Hospital in Port au Prince, are now deployed to Les Cayes to support medical relief efforts.
Critical medicine and supplies from Direct Relief were routed to Port au Prince this week by PAHO from its Panama UN Humanitarian Response Depot.
This week, seven pallets of PPE, medical relief backpacks, and emergency shelters arrived at St. Boniface from Direct Relief’s Puerto Rico distribution hub. Direct Relief also provided $250,000 in emergency operational cash support to the St. Boniface Hospital in Fond-des-Blancs.
The Dixie Fire is now the second-largest fire incident in California’s recorded history, having burned 730,600 acres in the Sierra Nevada mountain range in Butte, Plumas, Lassen, Tehama, and Shasta counties.
It is the largest single fire in California history.
Started on July 13, 2021, it is currently at 35% containment
Winds of up to 40 miles per hour have hindered containment, even as 6,000 firefighters are assigned to the fire.
More than 650 homes and 1,200 structures have been destroyed.
More than 8,000 residents are currently evacuated.
Four firefighters were injured battling the fire in early August after a tree fell on them.
According to the National Interagency Fire Center, more than 440 fires are actively burning in the US, with major blazes concentrated in Montana, Idaho, Oregon, and California. More than 3.2 million acres have been burned this year.
CALIFORNIA FIRE RESPONSE
Direct Relief sent an alert to more than 30 health centers, free clinics, and public health departments in Northern California to query if any would like to request aid.
Direct Relief has committed an initial $1 million to help support safety net clinics and responders.
Direct Relief has made the following materials available to partners in the impacted area: KN95 masks (1.3 million masks) and N95 masks (about 100,000 masks), 20 Wildfire Health Kits, insulin, oxygen concentrators (518 units), psychiatric/mental health medicines, hygiene kits, backpacks, inhalers, steroids, tetanus vaccine, personal care products.
Tropical Storm Fred crossed through western North Carolina on Wednesday night, killing at least two people.
Heavy rain caused severe flooding across many areas in the western part of the state.
Twenty people are missing, leading to fears that the death toll could rise.
Nearly 100 people needed rescue from historic flooding along the Pigeon River, which runs through the Appalachian Mountains, impacted several towns, including Cruso and Bethel, NC.
Officials estimated that the damage had displaced about 500 families, and some lost their homes.
Transportation throughout the area is challenging, with rockslides and flooding impacting roads, and around ten bridges have been damaged or destroyed.
NORTH CAROLINA FLOODING RESPONSE
Direct Relief is in communication with the North Carolina Primary Care Association and is fulfilling requests for assistance.
Five Direct Relief Hurricane Preparedness Packs are pre-positioned in coastal North Carolina.
Direct Relief will maintain contact with health facilities in the impacted area and assist as needed.
TROPICAL STORM HENRI
New England is bracing for its first hurricane landfall in 30 years this weekend as Tropical Storm Henri is expected to increase to hurricane strength before making landfall on Sunday or Monday somewhere in Southern New England.
The last hurricane to make landfall in New England was Hurricane Bob as a category-two hurricane in 1991.
Hurricane and storm surge watches are already in place for most of Long Island and southern New England, from New Haven, Conn. to Sagamore Beach, Mass. (including Block Island, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket).
Dangerous storm surge conditions are possible beginning Sunday for the region, with flash, urban, and river flooding forecasts through Monday.
Strong winds, heavy rain, and a storm surge of up to 5 feet above ground level are expected in southern New England, western Long Island and Cape Cod.
The timing of landfall is also expected to coincide with an astronomical high tide increasing the likelihood of significant storm surge, coastal flooding and erosion.
The funnel-like geography of Narragansett Bay, R.I., and Buzzards Bay, Mass., could also exacerbate the storm surge impact in these areas.
Previous storms to hit the Northeast in recent years, including Sandy, Irene, and Lee, were tropical storm strength (or lower) when making landfall in the northeast, but all did considerable damage to coastal communities and resulted in significant damage to communities as far inland as Vermont and Upstate New York.
Direct Relief is monitoring the track and intensity of this hurricane as it approaches the Northeastern United States.
Direct Relief is in communication with several healthcare providers in New York and New England to support if needed as the hurricane makes landfall and moves inland.