Direct Relief is responding to Hurricane Fiona by leaning into networks and relationships established during and before Hurricane Maria. Since the 2017 hurricane, Direct Relief established regional disaster response hub in Puerto Rico, and staff members are contacting health centers around the territory to assess needs from the most recent storm.
The organization is also in touch with health officials throughout the Caribbean to assess needs as the storm progresses.
Ahead of the storm
Ahead of the 2022 hurricane season, Direct Relief prepositioned 10 large caches of emergency medical supplies at health clinics across Puerto Rico. Each cache contains 1,680 lbs. of the medical items most needed in the wake of a disaster, including trauma supplies, antibiotics, and medications for diabetes, hypertension, and other chronic conditions. Health systems had opened at least three of the caches by Monday morning. Direct Relief also staged over 100 field medic backpacks full of emergency medical supplies.
Beyond Puerto Rico, emergency aid is prepositioned in Anguilla, the Bahamas, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Panama, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
During the last five years, Direct Relief has facilitated more than 400 projects to strengthen Puerto Rico’s healthcare system through federally qualified health centers and many other local nonprofit organizations.
Direct Relief has furnished 93 health center sites across the island with 170 FDA-compliant pharmaceutical and laboratory refrigerators and freezers with enough capacity to store roughly 6 million vials of vaccines.
Twenty-five solar-powered water wells have been installed in independent community water supply systems not served by the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority. Together, these wells provide access to clean drinking water to nearly 14,720 residents in remote areas.
Fire and EMS stations have also been outfitted with solar energy systems, allowing first-line workers to provide essential services during emergencies and power breakdowns.