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For any additional questions about republishing Direct Relief content, please email the team here.

Medical Support Reaches Power-Impacted Communities in Puerto Rico

Backup power units, essential medicines, and other critical supplies are delivered across the island, post-Fiona.


Hurricane Fiona

Medicines are delivered to Med Centro in Ponce, Puerto Rico, on Sept. 20, 2022. (Brea Burkholz/Direct Relief)

Tuesday marked the fifth year since Hurricane Maria wreaked havoc on Puerto Rico. It was also a day that Direct Relief staff spent delivering medical aid across the island in response to Hurricane Fiona, the most recent storm that swept through Sunday causing an island-wide blackout and powerful flooding.

About 80 percent of households lacked power in Puerto Rico as of Tuesday afternoon, according to Poweroutage.us. Those most vulnerable during outages are people dependent on electricity-powered medical devices to stay alive, and among Tuesday’s Direct Relief deliveries was a power generator for a pediatric hospital patient requiring a 24/7 life-sustaining ventilator and other equipment in Barranquitas, Puerto Rico.

Direct Relief staff delivered a power generator to the home of a pediatric hospital patient who requires a 24/7 life-sustaining ventilator and other equipment in Barranquitas, Puerto Rico, on Sept. 20, 2022. (Brea Burkholz/Direct Relief)

Chronic disease medications were also identified as a need from local health centers post-Fiona, and Direct Relief staff delivered supplies for diabetes management, including lancets, blood glucose readers and test strips, and insulin to Med Centro, a health center serving the community of Ponce, which is located on the island’s southern coast, and also to the Ponce Medical School Foundation.

Field medic packs for first responders and essential medicines were also delivered to Med Centro.

Direct Relief staff in Puerto Rico prepared diabetes medications for delivery to health facilities across the island on Sept. 20, 2022, in the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona. (Brea Burkholz/Direct Relief)

Puerto Rico is a regional disaster response hub for the Caribbean region, and Direct Relief maintains medical stockpiles on the island. The organization also has local emergency response team members, who were deployed during last year’s earthquake in Haiti, the 2020 earthquakes in Puerto Rico, and Hurricane Dorian’s impacts on the Bahamas.

More than 28 tons of medical aid are staged in Puerto Rico currently, and Direct Relief is assessing the needs of local health systems.

Fiona’s impacts on the Dominican Republic

More than 1 million people were estimated to be without running water in the Dominican Republic on Tuesday, and hundreds were reported to be staying in shelters across the country. Power outages are also reported to be an issue in many communities, though how many are impacted by the blackouts is unclear.

Essential medicines staged in the Dominican Republic were opened Sept. 20, 2022, for distribution to impacted communities. (Photo courtesy of Fundación Solidaria del Divino Niño Jesús, Inc.)

Essential medicines staged in the Dominican Republic prior to the storm were unpacked on Tuesday for distribution to medical facilities in impacted communities.

People in Turks and Caicos were also bracing for the storm’s impacts Tuesday, and the hurricane had strengthened to a Category 3 storm with winds of more than 111 miles per hour. Direct Relief is coordinating with health officials as the situation develops.

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