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Hurricane Ian

STATUS
Active Emergency Photo courtesy of Getty / Joe Raedle
DATE
September 28, 2022
REGION
Florida
Help people in need of health care in times of crisis.
Several boats severely damaged at Fort Myers, Florida waterfront with the Sea Anna boat in the foreground.oats piled in

Hurricane Ian Path of Destruction

Beginning an unimaginable assault on vulnerable coastal communities, Hurricane Ian made landfall just south of Tampa, Florida, hitting the southwest coast at the island of Cayo Costa near Fort Myers and Cape Coral on Wednesday, September 28 as a terrifying Category 4 Atlantic hurricane with a deadly storm surge. Its destructive power was the worst atlantic hurricane on record since 1935. Hurricane-force winds, over 150 mph, extended outward 40 miles from the center and tropical storm winds at 140 miles from the center made for a wide path of impact. According to meteorologists, its sheer size far exceeded previous major storms to hit the area. To date, it is one of the strongest hurricanes to ever hit the United States. Coastal storm surge was reported to be as high as 15 feet in the hardest hit areas where many of the homes are less than 1 foot above sea level. More than 2.5 million people were under a mandatory evacuation order. President Biden approved an emergency declaration and many counties have since been designated as disaster areas. The storm had already pounded the western end of Cuba on September 27 with fierce winds and storm surge, becoming the strongest storm to make landfall in Cuba since Hurricane Irma in 2017. It knocked out power to the entire island, a warning of what was to come for Florida and the Carolinas.

Ian left a trail of devastation in its wake, with communities such as Fort Myers Beach almost completely destroyed.

And as the storm loomed, Americares Emergency Team was making preparations for what was likely to be a significant disaster. The team is responding to the needs of partners in the impacted communities.

Page updated 11.02.22

Photo: Boats and piers are destroyed following Hurricane Ian near downtown Fort Myers, September 30, 2022. (Photo/Mark Taylor)

Watch the latest video update from our team in Florida by clicking on the arrow.

Responding to Ian

Americares is responding to Hurricane Ian with medicines, relief supplies, mental health support and emergency funding to keep health clinics open for survivors. We are providing critically needed medicine, hygiene kits, tetanus vaccines and bottled water to support health care providers caring for the most vulnerable survivors.  Support from Americares allows health care providers to replace repair storm damage, fuel generators, replace damaged medical equipment, and defray the cost of surge staffing to meet increased demand for services in the aftermath of a storm.

In preparation for the storm, Americares reached out to over 200 local health center partners serving low-income communities in Florida, Georgia and Alabama with offers of medicine, medical supplies and hygiene products. This includes 148 local partners in Florida supported by Americares on an on-going basis.

We have had emergency response teams at work on the ground in the Fort Myers area and we simultaneously conducted outreach and offered support to partner organizations in other affected areas of the state like Orlando and Miami. The response team reported the most immediate health needs were initially medicine refills, wound care supplies, tetanus vaccine, and mental health coping strategies.

The health risks during and after a hurricane of this magnitude are many:

  • Injury and infection
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning from unsafe generator use
  • Hospitals and clinics being closed or over capacity
  • Lack of medications from having to evacuate quickly
  • Loss of temperature controlled medicines that need to be refrigerated, like insulin
  • Mental health impacts/trauma

Our Team

Americares emergency response team is working with local partners in Lee, Charlotte, Manatee and Sarasota counties to help clinics clean up, repair damage, ensure they have the staff needed to meet the needs of their patients, resume normal clinical and community services and add additional programs and services to meet the recovery needs of their communities. The requested deliveries of supplies are underway.

Americares is providing support to the following health partners:

  • Virginia B. Andes Volunteer Community Clinic in Port Charlotte, Fla.
  • Talbot House Ministries of Lakeland, Inc. in Lakeland, Fla.
  • Specialized Treatment Education and Prevention Services Inc. in Orlando, Fla.
  • Plea Global Resource Sharing in Orlando, Fla.
  • Suncoast Neighborhood Task Force Inc. in North Fort Myers, Fla.
  • Premier Mobile Health Services in Fort Myers, Fla.
  • CenterPlace Health in Sarasota, Fla.
  • Charlotte Behavioral Health Care in Punta Gorda, Fla.
  • Good Samaritan Health and Wellness Inc. in Cape Coral, Fla.
  • Samaritans Touch Care Center Inc. in Sebring, Fla.
  • Presbyterian Counseling Center in Daytona Beach, Fla.
  • Midwest Food Bank in Fort Myers, Fla.
    • Dade County Street Response in Miami, Fla.
    • Englewood Community Care Clinic in Englewood, Fla.
    • The Salvation Army in Tampa, Fla.

    Americares is helping the partners to:

    • Make urgent facility and roof repairs
    • Hire extra medical staff to meet the surge in demand from patients
    • Replace damaged medical equipment
    • Purchase fuel and propane for generators
    • Provide basic medical care
    • Distribute medicines
    • Provide food, clothing and hygiene items to people who lost their homes
    • Provide gas cards to clinic staff so they can get to work

    New Partner Clinics

    Americares staff member with mobile clinic director in front of the mobile clinic in Fort Myers.
    Americares team members meet with Nadine ‘Deanie’ Singh, the Executive Director of Premier Mobile Health Services, in Fort Myers, Florida to begin a new partnership. October 3, 2022. (Photo/Tija Danzig)

    Deanie Singh was once an undocumented immigrant from Jamaica who grew up without access to healthcare. She dedicated her life to helping other people so they wouldn’t have to experience what she went through and is now a registered and board-certified nurse practitioner and the founder of Premier Mobile Health Services. Deanie submitted a proposal to help with surge staffing. This partnership will allow them to pay staff while her existing staff are dealing with their own personal losses so they can maintain full service at both of their mobile clinics and the walk-in clinic. Read more about Deanie in an Ian blog post.

    Virginia B. Andes Volunteer Community Clinic in Port Charlotte, Fla. is another partner working with Americares as they recover from Hurricane Ian.

    Ongoing Work

    Americares is prepared to provide further response and recovery programming in areas where we have significant experience and expertise. These areas include:

    • Deployment of mobile medical teams to provide primary care services, if needed. In July 2022 Americares was certified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as an Emergency Medical Team Type 1 – Mobile provider. The certification indicates Americares has met the highest standards for health care providers responding to emergencies and recognizes the organization’s commitment to a coordinated response and safe, equitable, ethical, accountable and appropriate care.
    • Restoration and improvement of health services. Americares repairs damaged facilities, provides long-term power solutions like solar systems and offers disaster preparedness training and technical assistance.
    • Provision of mental health and psychosocial support services. Americares builds the capacity of medical staff to identify and address patients’ mental health, trains health professionals to address their own well-being during disasters and works with communities to destigmatize mental illness and provide psychosocial support. In October, Americares disaster mental health specialists provided over 230 consultations to help staff and clients of a behavioral health center in Punta Gorda, Fla., cope with stress and trauma in the aftermath of the storm. Americares continues to provide remote mental health support.

    We approach all of our work through a lens of health equity. We partner with Free and Charitable Clinics and other safety net health and social service providers who work with people affected by poverty and marginalization due to race, ethnicity, immigration status, gender, sexual orientation, etc. Charlotte and Lee Counties both have a large percentage of residents who rate high on the CDC’s social vulnerability index. Our response focuses on supporting those who have the least resources available to recover from this catastrophic hurricane.

    Deadly Strike

    The massive storm crossed over the whole of central Florida, moving through Orlando and on to Daytona Beach out into the Atlantic, then it turned sharply, strengthened again to Category 1 as it made landfall again in South Carolina. States of emergency were declared for Georgia, Virginia and the Carolinas as these states were hit with dangerous winds, storm surge and torrential rains. More than two million people lost power in Florida as the enormous storm made its slow passage through the state’s interior. Widespread catastrophic flooding continued for days with residual river flooding as up to 20 inches of rain fell in some areas. The death toll reached 102 as Ian struck and the storm surge devastated Florida’s Gulf Coast, inundating communities and leaving scenes of utter chaos and destruction. Hundreds of rescues took place by land, air and sea, with residents stuck in homes or stranded on rooftops, and searchers made many wellness checks, especially in the Fort Myers and Naples areas. More than 1,600 people have been rescued in the flooded areas, and a hospital with 1,000 patients had to be evacuated after its water supply was cut off. Power outages continue to hamper rescue efforts. Extreme damage on the islands of Sanibel and Captiva was also coupled with the destruction of a piece of the causeway that linked the islands to the mainland. A temporary repair to the causeway has allowed access to the islands.

    Our History

    Americares has a long history of responding to emergencies in Florida and the Gulf Coast. The organization has been on the frontlines of recovery efforts following major hurricanes in the area in recent years, including Hurricanes Irma, Dorian and Michael. After Hurricane Michael, a Category 5 storm that devastated the Florida Panhandle in 2018, Americares delivered 61 shipments of medicines, medical supplies, hygiene products and other relief items and operated a temporary medical clinic in Panama City, Fla., that provided primary care services for more than 800 survivors.

    Americares responds to more than 30 natural disasters and humanitarian crises worldwide each year, establishes long-term recovery projects and brings preparedness programs to communities vulnerable to disasters. Americares relief workers are among the first to respond to emergencies, helping to restore health services for survivors.