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Hurricane Destruction And Emergency Response



At this moment, Tropical Storm Hanna is closing in on North and South Carolina, while receding floodwaters in Haiti reveal the bodies of nearly 500 victims of this deadly weather system. Simultaneously, Hurricane Ike is over Cuba and aiming towards Texas. Just days ago Hurricane Gustav provoked evacuation of New Orleans. In the midst of these disasters human life is being lost or changed forever. Medical professionals are asking, “How can we appropriately prepare for and respond to these crises?”


Deadly weather not only threatens life through direct injuries. It also exposes people to homelessness and disrupts vital medical care. In Haiti, over 8,000 are still looking for shelter. Many Haitian hospitals are reporting the evacuation of facilities due to floodwaters. Unfortunately, most of these evacuated patients have no safe place to go to.


Storm fallout not only threatens poorer nations like Haiti. The evacuation of New Orleans by Hurricane Gustav disrupted care for thousands of persons needing specialized medical assistance for pre-existing health conditions. Ask yourself, for example, where does a dialysis patient go when his dialysis center is closed by an emergency? Where does a pregnant woman deliver her baby when the hospitals are closed? A study of New Orleans, post-hurricane Katrina, demonstrated that 74 percent of displaced persons had chronic illnesses and one-fifth of those individuals experienced disrupted medical services. Disasters are common events that require prepared healthcare professionals to anticipate and respond to the needs of victims. Are you so equipped?

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