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Damaged Clinics, No Running Water, Compromised Vaccines: Hurricane Beryl’s Impacts on Health Care Are Widely Felt 


Hurricane Beryl

In Grenada, damage assessments undertaken by government agencies found that Hurricane Beryl damaged or destroyed approximately 98% of structures on the islands of Carriacou and Petite Martinique. (Photo courtesy of Ministry of Carriacou and Petite Martinique Affairs and Local Government)

In the wake of Hurricane Beryl’s devastating trail through the Caribbean, a picture of the impact on health care facilities — and a sense of the overall need for support — is beginning to emerge. It’s a picture that includes clinics operating in the dark, relying on trucked-in water, or simply unable to open. 
Carefully coordinated, strategic preparedness work across the region, with a particular focus on information dissemination and safety measures, may account for a remarkably low death toll thus far. Eleven deaths have been reported across Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Jamaica, and Venezuela, which is on the northern coast of South America. 
But the storm was immensely powerful, and the unavoidable damage it caused to clinics and hospitals, from downed power lines to damaged roofs and medicines, brings a new set of risks. 
Natural disasters can cause impacts to health care that last for years. While media attention often focuses on the most immediate risks — such as injuries, contaminated water, and outbreaks of infectious disease — the consequences of long-term power loss, interrupted chronic disease care, lost homes and jobs, and increased mental health support needs can be considerable, regardless of where a disaster occurs.  


In Grenada, preliminary damage assessments by the National Disaster Management Agency, the Ministry of Health, and other responding organizations found that the storm damaged or destroyed approximately 98% of structures on the islands of Carriacou and Petite Martinique. The Princess Royal Hospital on Carriacou experienced damage to its roof, solar panels, and hot water system.  
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), a Direct Relief partner, found that of 41 damaged health centers, 37 were still operational, although some were operating without electricity and relying on water trucked in by responders. 
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs also reported that affected areas were difficult to access because of blocked roadways, downed trees, and debris. 

St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Of 49 health facilities in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, 38 were still operational despite having sustained damage, according to PAHO. In the Southern Grenadines, however, the organization found all health facilities unable to operate because of damage. 
In addition, PAHO noted that some medical refrigerators and vaccines were compromised during the storm, with potential ramifications for people of all ages. 


Hundreds of people still remain in emergency shelters across the nation, according to the UN Children’s Fund. Damage is widespread, with blocked roads, widespread power loss, and flooding following more than 12 hours of heavy rainfall. 

Direct Relief’s Response

Direct Relief is coordinating closely with partners in the region, including the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, PAHO, and government health ministries. The organization’s emergency response team is also participating in coordination meetings convened by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency and PAHO. 
In preparation for increased medical need, Direct Relief began working with partners to position supplies in the days before Hurricane Beryl’s landfall in the Caribbean. A Hurricane Preparedness Pack containing essential medicines and supplies designed to care for up to 1,000 people for 30 days, staged in St. Lucia in anticipation of hurricane season, was transported to Grenada along with three emergency medical backpacks. 
A second shipment of 20 cots and 20 canvas tents, from Direct Relief’s strategic stockpile in Puerto Rico, arrived on July 8. The supplies will support the Ministry of Health in its setting up emergency medical tents and providing emergency shelter on Carriacou Island. 
An additional Hurricane Preparedness Pack and 200 hygiene kits were dispatched from Direct Relief’s warehouse in Santa Barbara, California, on July 3. These are bound for the Ministry of Health of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Another 10 emergency medical backpacks were provided to Medical Professionals on a Mission, a rapid response team of health care providers who work to support the emergency health and humanitarian needs of Caribbean communities.  
Further shipments of medical replenishment and requested emergency medical aid are currently being prepared. 
In addition, Direct Relief is consulting with partners in the region to determine what medications, supplies, and equipment are most needed, and how the organization can best support response and recovery efforts. 
Finally, in Mexico and the US — where Beryl also made destructive landfalls — Direct Relief maintains strategically placed stockpiles of emergency medical supplies, each designed to provide medical support during or after a natural disaster. The organization is coordinating closely with governmental and safety net partners to keep track of impacts to health and medical needs.  
A number of shipments that include an Emergency Health Kit, emergency medical backpacks, hygiene kits, and other medical essentials have departed Direct Relief headquarters or are currently being prepared for safety net providers in Texas. 

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