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Operational Update: West Coasts of U.S., Mexico Brace for Hurricane Hilary

Emergency medical backpacks and essential medicines dispatched to areas of potential impact. Maui wildfire response continues and more.



Hurricane Hilary, as seen on Aug. 18, 2023, off of Mexico's west coast. The storm is expected to make landfall in Baja as a Category 1 hurricane, and then send storms and impacts up the coast into Southern California. (NOAA Satellite Image)

Over the past seven days, Direct Relief has delivered 416 shipments of requested medical aid to 42 U.S. states and territories and 12 countries worldwide.

The shipments contained 10.8 million defined daily doses of medication, including first aid kits, vitamins, PPE, antibiotics, and more.

Emergency Medicines Dispatched to Baja Ahead of Hurricane Hilary

Emergency medicines and medical backpacks are dispatched to Baja on Aug. 18, 2023, in reponse to Hurricane Hilary. (Eduardo Mendoza/Direct Relief)

Hurricane Hilary, expected to make landfall as a Category 1 storm in Baja over the weekend, has communities bracing for impact. In advance of the storm, Direct Relief has been in communication with state and local organizations in Mexico about potential medical needs. Recently, Direct Relief provided 18 emergency medical backpacks to the State of Baja to equip first responders, and the packs contain medical essentials for triage care outside of clinic walls. The packs, provided with support from FedEx, were requested as the region endures seasonal wildfires and is frequently affected by hurricanes like Hilary.

On Friday, Direct Relief dispatched another infusion of medical support to Baja, including 10 emergency medical backpacks and an emergency health kit, which contains essential medicines and supplies often requested after hurricanes and other disasters. The shipment is en route to Fundacion Astra in Baja California Sur, a nonprofit that delivers acute and preventive health services to vulnerable populations, including children, at-risk youth, mothers, the injured, the chronically ill and the elderly. Direct Relief is also sending an emergency health kit to the Tijuana Civil Protection Agency in coordination with the State of Baja California.

Emergency medicines and medical backpacks were dispatched to Baja on Aug. 18, 2023, in response to Hurricane Hilary. (Eduardo Mendoza/Direct Relief)

Direct Relief was incorporated in Mexico as a Civil Association in 2014 and has been an authorized donee since 2015. As the only humanitarian wholesale distributor of pharmaceuticals operating in Mexico that is fully compliant with COFEPRIS regulations, it can receive in-country and process internationally donated goods and is positioned to respond to both immediate public health requirements and long-term healthcare service needs in underserved communities.

In the United States, many areas of California are under flood watches and warnings due to Hilary’s projected path. Direct Relief has opened communications with the California Primary Association, the California Association of Free and Charitable Clinics, Healthcare Partners of Southern California, the Coalition of Orange County Community Clinics, Community Clinic Association of Los Angeles County to coordinate any medical needs that become known.

The organization will continue responding to medical needs from Hurricane Hilary as they become known.

Response to Fires in Hawai‘i Underway

Medical aid departs for local organizations responding to the Maui fires on August 17, 2023. Project Vision, the Maui Humane Society, Imua Family Services and Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Hawaii were all included in the shipment, which contained N-95 masks, requested medicines, emergency medical backpacks, and portable coolers for temperature-sensitive medications. (Lara Cooper/Direct Relief)

On Thursday, shipments departed for groups in Maui, including Project Vision Hawaii, a nonprofit that operates 10 mobile health screening units across Hawai’i. A wildfire response kit, with medical essentials including chronic disease management medications, respiratory therapies, and other essentials, departed for the group, as well as N-95 masks.

N-95 masks and goggles also departed for Maui Emergency Management. Imua Family Services, an organization providing emergency childcare and therapy services for those impacted by the fires, also will receive 500 N-95 respirator masks from Thursday’s shipments. Portable refrigeration units for temperature-sensitive medications were also shipped out to Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Hawai’i.

To date, Direct Relief has sent over 2,500 lbs. of specifically requested medicines and supplies to address health concerns that commonly arise during fires and mass evacuations. In addition to the groups supported Thursday, these shipments support the relief efforts of Malama I Ke Ola Health Center (Community Clinic of Maui), Maui Search and Rescue, and Hawai’i Island Community Health Center.

Direct Relief has also disbursed $200,000 in direct cash assistance in the form of $50,000 emergency operating grants each to Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Coalition of Hawaii, Malama I Ke Ola Health Center (Community Clinic of Maui), Maui Search and Rescue, and Hui No Ke Ola Pono (Native Hawai’ian Health Center.)



This week, Direct Relief shipped 7.1 million defined daily doses of medication outside the U.S.

Countries that received medical aid over the past week included:

  • Pakistan
  • Lebanon
  • Sri Lanka
  • Ukraine
  • India
  • Nepal
  • Syria
  • Ecuador
  • Macedonia
  • Uganda


Direct Relief delivered 388 shipments containing more than 9,067 pounds of medications over the past week to organizations, including the following:

  • Welvista, South Carolina
  • NC MedAssist, North Carolina
  • Open Door Health Center, Florida
  • Center for Family Health and Education, California
  • St. Vincent de Paul Pharmacy, Texas
  • Tarzana Treatment Center, California
  • Greenville Free Medical Clinic, South Carolina
  • CommunityHealth, Illinois
  • UNC Health Care, North Carolina
  • Mayflower Clinic, Kansas


Since Jan. 1, 2023, Direct Relief has delivered 12,800 shipments to 2,100 healthcare providers in 55 U.S. states and territories and 79 countries.

These shipments contained 352 million defined daily doses of medication valued at $1.3 billion (wholesale), totaling 4.2 million lbs.

in the news

Maui Fire Survivors are Battling Shock, Anxiety, and Post-Traumatic Stress—Many Without Medication or Mental Health Care – Associated Press: “Global medical aid organization Direct Relief has been working with groups like Lucio’s to distribute medication to people who fled without their antidepressants and antipsychotic prescriptions, said its director of pharmacy and clinical affairs, Alycia Clark. In a natural disaster, people often leave their medication behind during sudden evacuations. Downed cellphone towers and power outages can prevent them from contacting their doctors, and damage to health care clinics and a lack of transportation can all combine to complicate medical access, she said.”

Relief Donations Starting to Trickle into Hawaii Following Deadly Fires – Fox Weather: “Direct Relief said some donations and supplies have started to arrive in Maui following deadly fires in Hawaii almost one week ago.”

‘This Comes from the Heart’: How Volunteers Help Lahaina Amid Slow Government Response – The Guardian: “The California-based humanitarian nonprofit worked with local groups to bring requested items to the Island – PPE, insulin, nebulizers and hygiene items, among others. Upon landing, members immediately shuffled into vans to deliver medical supplies to distribution hubs in Lahaina, and wildfire kits for the local Maui search-and-Rescue group.”

How People Can Help Maui Wildfire Victims – Noozhawk: “Direct Relief, which is headquartered in Goleta, has been sending medical aid and financial assistance to Maui since the fires began. The nonprofit organization focuses on helping community health centers by supplying medicine and aid so medical professionals can better treat their patients. For people who want to help Maui residents with monetary donations, Chris Alleway, Emergency Response Manager for Direct Relief, suggests that everyone research organizations they trust when deciding to donate financially to help Maui wildfire victims.”

Direct Relief Provides Aid to Hawaii in Response to Deadly Wildfires – Pacific Coast Business Times: “Direct Relief CEO Thomas Tighe said while federal and state aid will be needed for clearing public areas and rebuilding infrastructure, the immediate support needed by people is best met by “fast-moving non-profits.””

From Santa Barbara to Maui: Aid Shipments Being Sent to the Island to Help Wildfire Victims – KCLU: “The 75-year-old non-profit is known for helping people hit by disasters, and crisis around the world with medicine, and medical supplies. Direct Relief has been sending aid to Maui for the last week, including a major shipment over the weekend.”

Home Improvement Center Launches Matching Donation Drive to Help Victims of the Maui Fires – KEYT: “The ACE Home Improvement Center in Santa Barbara is collaborating with Direct Relief to help the victims of the Maui fires. Beginning today the Home Improvement Center will take customer donations directly or take a donation in the form of rounding up a transaction to the next whole dollar. Owner Gary Simpson says the goal is to match the donations and raise $10,000 in the next week. That money will go to the non-profit Direct Relief to help with badly needed medical supplies in Lahaina. Many shipments have already arrived.”

Santa Barbara–Born Maui Resident Among Volunteers Helping Those Displaced by Deadly Wildfires – Santa Barbara Independent: “From the Central Coast, Santa Barbara–based charity Direct Relief is mobilizing assistance to those in need in Maui, delivering medical supplies, hygiene products, and lifesaving equipment, as well as working directly with health-care providers and emergency responders to offer supplies and support for the injured and those suffering from smoke-related health issues.”

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