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Six Weeks After Fiona, Recovery Gains Ground in Puerto Rico

Since Hurricane Fiona made landfall, more than $484,000 worth of medical aid has reached health facilities on the island.


Hurricane Fiona

Hurricane Fiona damage seen in Guayanilla, Puerto Rico, on October 1, 2022. Direct Relief staff delivered medical aid to the community during the hurricane response, and continues shipments of support. (Photo by Alejandro Granadillo for Direct Relief)

Hurricane Fiona made landfall in Puerto Rico on September 18 as a Category 1 hurricane, resulting in an island-wide power outage and causing major damage to many areas, particularly the southwestern portion of Puerto Rico. During the six weeks since the storm’s landfall, Direct Relief has been responding with continuous shipments of medical support.

Since the hurricane came ashore in Puerto Rico, Direct Relief has shipped more than $484,000 worth of medical aid to the island to 23 recipients. More than 194,000 defined daily doses of medication were included in the 90 shipments that have departed since, and a significant portion of the response came from medical material staged in Puerto Rico as part of its strategic role as a regional hub for disaster response in the Caribbean and beyond.

Hurricane Fiona damage is seen in Guayanilla, Puerto Rico, on October 1, 2022. (Photo by Alejandro Granadillo for Direct Relief)

Before the Storm

Before the start of the 2022 hurricane season, 28 tons of emergency response supplies and equipment, including 11 hurricane preparedness modules containing commonly requested medicines and supplies for care after a storm, field medic packs for triage care, personal care items, oxygen concentrators, tents, PPE, solar chargers, and other essential emergency response items were prepositioned in Direct Relief’s Puerto Rico warehouse.

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)

Because of this emergency preparedness and staging of medical support at Direct Relief’s Puerto Rico Hub, after Hurricane Fiona made a direct hit in the south-southwest part of Puerto Rico on Sept. 18, Direct Relief staff in Puerto Rico were able to mobilize right away and distribute medical support to community health centers and other medical organizations in the affected areas.

This quick response allowed Direct Relief and many local health partners to start community outreach activities and very effectively impact highly vulnerable communities devasted by Hurricane Fiona, not only in Puerto Rico but in the Dominican Republic as well.

A Hub for Regional Response

After Hurricane Fiona made a direct impact on the east coast of the Dominican Republic, Direct Relief was able to ship 36 field medic packs out of the Puerto Rico warehouse to the Pan American Health Organization, further mobilizing the Puerto Rico hub as an efficient emergency response option for disasters in the Caribbean region.

Further expanding emergency response out of the Puerto Rico hub, a shipment that includes a hurricane preparedness module and 36 field medic packs, is being packed and scheduled to ship out this week to Honduras in response to the most recent rainfall and flooding following Hurricane Julia.

Mobile medical units allowed health providers the ability to treat patients outside of clinic walls. (Photo by Alejandro Granadillo for Direct Relief)

Response after Fiona

In the days following Hurricane Fiona, the Direct Relief team was able to coordinate and distribute from the Puerto Rico hub 14 total deliveries, which included seven hurricane preparedness modules (including one that is shipping to Honduras for the Hurricane Julia response), 126 field medic packs (including the 30 shipped to Dominican Republic and 36 shipping to Honduras for the Hurricane Julia response), 40 personal care kits, eight oxygen concentrators, 167 solar chargers, five cases of water purification tabs, and a case of face masks, all which had already been prepositioned at the Puerto Rico warehouse.

Mobile health units were crucial during the immediate response to Hurricane Fiona. (Photo by Alejandro Granadillo for Direct Relief)

Medical shipments were delivered to health centers and clinics across the island, including Med Centro, Ponce Medical School Foundation, COSSMA, Centro de Servicios Primarios de Salud de Patillas, Hospital Dr. Ramon Ruiz Arnau-PRDOH, Salud Integral en la Montana, Inc. (SIM), Migrant Health Center, CSM Hatillo, and Neomed Center. Many of these health centers used the medical supplies in their Direct Relief-funded mobile health units to create health outposts in the most impacted communities, bringing care outside of clinic walls.

Direct Relief will continue to respond as recovery progresses in Puerto Rico.

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