Emergencies

Hurricane Laura Relief

Quick Facts

  • Hurricane Laura rapidly intensified into a Category 4 storm on its approach to the border between Louisiana and Texas.
  • Catastrophic storm surge and damaging winds expected. More than 500,000 people are under evacuation orders.
  • Direct Relief has staged caches of critically needed medication with health centers and clinics in the storm's path, and is preparing additional infusions of support based on demand.

Hurricane Laura News

Hurricane Relief: How Direct Relief Responds

Smart preparation is the best defense.

Each hurricane season, Direct Relief stages hurricane prep modules strategically in vulnerable areas, providing partner health facilities with the medications and medical supplies they’ll need in a storms’ wake.

Hurricane modules depart Direct Relief’s warehouse on August 5, 2020, bound for hurricane-prone communities along the U.S. Gulf and East Coasts and the Caribbean. (Lara Cooper/Direct Relief)

The modules contain essential medicines commonly requested after a disaster, including medications to manage chronic conditions like diabetes.

When people impacted by storms are able to manage chronic conditions, they can avoid emergency rooms already overloaded with acute cases.

As hurricanes are formed and approach land, Direct Relief establishes and maintains continual contact with healthcare providers and government agencies, assessing needs and ensuring any hurdles to providing aid can be quickly cleared once a storm hits.

Post-landfall, the organization helps communities distribute and replenish stocks of critical supplies from its strategic medical stockpile.

Hurricanes: What to Know

1. Different risks arise from the natural environment, the built environment, and demographics—and the intersection of all three. A hurricane in an area without people or infrastructure is an event of nature. A hurricane becomes an emergency when it occurs in a populated area, where critical infrastructure exists, where substandard housing, levees, or other features of the built environment are present.

2. Basic needs must come first. Essential needs — food, water, shelter, and medical services — are the four immediate concerns in a hurricane or other emergency situation to safeguard people.

3. The storm isn’t the only health risk. Preventing injury and loss of life from storm-tossed debris, electrocution, exposure, or being caught in floodwaters are priorities for first responders and emergency personnel during a hurricane. Evacuations relate to geographic areas. But evacuating can be difficult for some. People who lack mobility or have other disabling physical or mental conditions have greater difficulty simply leaving their residences, as do those without transportation or with very low incomes.

4. Social Vulnerability: Who is at Risk, Where, and Why. Not everyone within a hurricane’s path is equally at risk. Extensive research by Dr. Susan Cutter of the University of South Carolina regarding past hurricanes and other emergencies has identified over 30 factors that affect communities’ vulnerability in such events, including an area’s natural and built environment, its rural or urban character, and the demographic composition and income levels of the population.

5. Financial losses can be extreme and long-lasting. Hurricane-caused real and personal property damage or destruction is often readily apparent. Less readily apparent are both immediate and long-term economic losses for individuals and businesses, which result in extreme hardship that escapes official damage estimates. Lost sales and wages, uninsured losses of personal and real property, crop and capital-equipment losses, reduced property values, business failures, and even large-scale relocation of people from an area have a compounding effect upon each other.

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