Historic Storm Strikes Florida Panhandle
Americares is responding to Hurricane Michael, the most powerful storm to hit the Florida Panhandle in the area's history. Michael made landfall near Mexico Beach, Florida as a life-threatening Category 4 storm, delivering a catastrophic impact with peak winds of 155 mph, dangerous rains and deadly storm surge. The storm slammed into the Florida Panhandle mid-day October 10, leaving a path of near total devastation, at least 33 fatalities with dozens of people still missing and extensive damage to infrastructure including health facilities. It made its way into Georgia as a Category 3 storm and then on to the Carolinas and Virginia, still reeling from the floods of Hurricane Florence. It left hundreds of thousands of residents without power and much of the coast of the Panhandle in ruins. The ferocity of the storm blasted the landscape, made many people homeless and destroyed or cut off even basic services. Michael now ranks as one of the four most powerful hurricanes ever to strike the United States. Photo by Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images
The damage to the health system from the storm has left many of the most vulnerable people without access to critical health care. In response to this immediate need, Americares opened a temporary medical clinic in Panama City, Fla., to ensure access to care for Hurricane Michael survivors. The clinic, located in the Bay County Health Department parking lot at 597 West 11th St., Panama City, provided free primary care services for children and adults, including prescription medication, seven days a week. The temporary facility, staffed by more than 50 volunteer doctors and nurses remained in operation, serving nearly 800 patients, until local facilities could restore regular services. Most patients sought TDAP vaccines and care for diabetes management, hypertension, medication refills, wound care and mental health/psychosocial support. Photo by William Vazquez
Challenge of Recovery
As residents of the Panhandle grapple with the scale of the destruction, our emergency team visited shelters and met with partners to assess needs and distribute hygiene items - protecting health and providing comfort to those waiting to return home.
The storm left hospitals and nursing homes closed, forcing patient evacuations and limiting access to healthcare services. With the damage to health facilities along the Florida coast, the team has visited health center partners directly to assess the full extent of the damage and respond to immediate needs. The recovery challenges in the area will be formidable. To date, Americares has delivered 61 shipments of medicines, medical supplies, hygiene supplies and other relief items to local health facilities, shelters, and partner organizations.
Getting health care to Hurricane Michael Survivors in Florida.
Americares has professional relief workers ready to respond to disasters at a moment’s notice and stocks emergency medicine and supplies in its warehouses in the U.S., Europe and India that can be delivered quickly in times of crisis. The organization has a long history of responding to emergencies in the U.S., including hurricanes Sandy, Harvey, Irma, Maria and Florence along with the 2018 California wildfires.
Americares responds to an average of 30 natural disasters and humanitarian crises worldwide each year, establishes long-term recovery projects and brings disaster preparedness programs to vulnerable communities.
Should Americares raise funds in excess of what's needed to respond to this particular crisis, the funds will be redirected to where the need is greatest.