Tropical Storm Isaac battered Haiti and drenched the Florida Keys before tracking across the Gulf of Mexico, where forecasters warn it will intensify to hurricane strength before striking the US Gulf Coast Tuesday or Wednesday—7 years after Hurricane Katrina devastated Louisiana.
AmeriCares is preparing an initial relief shipment to a partner organization with a strong base of operations on the Gulf Coast, while our emergency outreach efforts continue to support clinics in our network by making family emergency kits, medicines and supplies available to help survivors in need.
A 300-mile stretch of the Gulf Coast is on alert for the monstrous storm, currently projected to produce sustained winds up to 105 mph and dump up to 20 inches of rain in some areas. A state of emergency has been declared in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida, and tens of thousands of people in low-lying areas are being advised to evacuate, with a growing number of areas implementing mandatory evacuations.
Long before the storm began to strengthen, AmeriCares had a hurricane preparedness initiative in place in Latin America and the Caribbean – in an effort to put crucial medicines and relief supplies in the hands of response partners and disaster survivors as quickly as possible.
“We put health first in times of emergency, preparing for high-impact seasonal disasters like hurricanes well before they occur,” explained Garrett Ingoglia, Director of Emergency Response at AmeriCares. “Our disaster preparedness planning and coordination is a vital part of our emergency response capabilities, especially in hurricane-prone regions like the Gulf Coast, and the Caribbean.”
On August 24-25, Isaac left a trail of suffering in Haiti, with gusty winds and storm-related floods that damaged up to 1,000 homes, destroyed many temporary shelters and left many roads impassable. Our relief workers met with several partners and are preparing to deploy family emergency kits and additional pre-positioned medicines and supplies, as needs arise. In recent weeks, the team has provided partners with cholera preparedness supplies, including lactated ringers and cholera rapid tests that will prove critical if cholera cases spike in the aftermath of the heavy rains.
AmeriCares has provided medical relief and humanitarian assistance to millions affected by natural and man-made disasters for 30 years, including hurricanes Katrina and Irene in the United States, earthquakes in Haiti, Chile, Pakistan and Japan, and the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia. So far in 2012, AmeriCares has responded to tornadoes in Kentucky and Indiana, wildfires in Colorado, storms and power outages in the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest and flooding in Minnesota.