When Hurricane Katrina struck, inundating the city of New Orleans and leaving so much of the Gulf Coast in ruins, AmeriCares responded — and stayed. The monstrous storm surges unleashed by Katrina breached levees and left more than 1 million people homeless. Hundreds of health clinics, pharmacies and doctor’s offices were destroyed. Within days of the disaster, our relief workers and aid shipments arrived.
Within a month, we sent $4 million in medicines and supplies to clinics serving the poor, sick and suffering. When the floodwaters receded, we continued to help, delivering a total of $24 million in medical aid and grants to the region over 7 years, including a large scale response to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
With the support of donors and partners, AmeriCares delivered $11 million in medicines, medical supplies and other disaster relief within the first year after the hurricane.
August 29, 2005: Hurricane Katrina strikes the Gulf Coast on the Louisiana/Mississippi border; AmeriCares staff members are dispatched with 24 hours.
September 3, 2005: The first shipments of urgently-needed medical aid arrive in the disaster zone.
September 12, 2005: The AmeriCares Free Clinics mobile medical unit arrives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
October 2005: AmeriCares awards the St. Thomas Clinic in New Orleans with a grant to help them continue to provide care to those in need.
November 2005: St. Bernard Parish in New Orleans receives eight temporary shelter structures
As the recovery phase began, we supported local partners and key health initiatives:
April 2006: AmeriCares supported 57 local grassroots organizations with $1.3 million in grants to rebuild and restore services.
July 2006: Coastal Family Health Center opens a new mobile medical clinic made possible with AmeriCares support.
August 2006: In Louisiana, AmeriCares awards 34 mental and primary health care grants totaling $3.1 million.
In the months and years following Hurricane Katrina, wherever we could make a difference – from child immunization to dental care to mental health support – we helped fill gaps to help people in crisis get the health care they need.
Hurricane Katrina underscored the need for greater access to primary healthcare in the United States. Our support for local health organizations working to meet the needs of storm survivors began a decade of expanding and improving access for people in need to health services in the U.S.
In 2005, we provided $1.3 million in medicine and supplies to U.S. health partners. 11 years after the storm, we have the nation’s largest partnership network, last year delivering $85 million in medicine and supplies to a network of more than 800 clinics and health centers serving 5 million patients in need.
AmeriCares is now the nation’s leading nonprofit supplier of donated goods to the U.S. health care safety net, the clinics serving the nations low-income uninsured and underinsured. These are the populations most vulnerable during disasters.
Since 2005, AmeriCares has responded to dozens of disasters in the U.S., including hurricanes Rita, Sandy and Ike; tornadoes including those in Joplin, MO. and Moore. OK as well as flooding in WV, TX, SC and LA
In addition, AmeriCares has assumed a leadership role in the Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD), which coordinates and encourages collaboration among emergency response organizations.
Going forward, we continue building new community preparedness initiatives, expanding the capacity of the health care safety net and developing new partnerships to reduce the risk from future emergencies and to meet health crises such as chronic disease and mental illness.