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Summer Storms Continue with North Carolina Tornado, Kentucky Flooding

Direct Relief is assessing medical needs in storm-impacted communities.


Extreme Weather

An EF3 tornado signifcantly damaged the community of Rocky Mount, North Carolina, including a Pfizer medical supply plant (pictured here) on July 19, 2023. (Photo courtesy of the Edgecomb County Sheriff's Department)

A powerful tornado that caused damage in North Carolina and floods in Kentucky are two disasters in the U.S. that Direct Relief is monitoring for medical needs.

Intense storms can prompt evacuations, and people can find themselves in medical crisis if they evacuate without critical medications to manage their health. Direct Relief maintains a medical inventory of medications commonly requested after disasters, and will respond to requests for aid.

Tornado Destroys Homes, Damages Medical Supply Plant

On Thursday afternoon, an EF3 tornado with winds of up to 150 miles per hour touched down near Rocky Mount, North Carolina, damaging homes and infrastructure across three counties.

A Pfizer plant in Rocky Mount sustained significant damage, and the facility produces nearly 25 percent of all sterile injectables used in U.S. hospitals. The facility produces a wide range of products, including anesthesia, analgesia, therapeutics, anti-infectives and neuromuscular blockers, according to the company’s website. All employees at the plant were reported safe, and “we are assessing the situation to determine the impact on production,” the company said in a statement.

In response to the tornado’s impacts on the community, Direct Relief has connected with the North Carolina Primary Care Association, the North Carolina Free Clinic Association, and several health centers in the northeastern region of North Carolina.

Kentucky Flooding Prompts Swift Water Rescues

Storms also swept through southern Illinois, western Kentucky and western Tennessee on Thursday, with western Kentucky being the area that was hardest hit. Mayfield, Kentucky, was among the hardest hit during the storm, and set a new 24-hour rainfall record in Kentucky with over 11 inches of rain in the past 24 hours.

Mayfield was the site of a devastating EF4 tornado in Dec. 2021 that destroyed the town and killed 57 people. This week, high-water rescue crews pulled people from flooded homes and vehicles throughout the region, and Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear declared a state of emergency for the affected area.

Direct Relief is communicating with the Kentucky Primary Care Association and the Mayfield Health Center (ARCare) that Direct Relief assisted after the 2021 tornado with medical aid and emergency funding.

Direct Relief will respond to requests for medical aid as they become known.

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