On August 25, 2017, the first members of Americares response team arrived in Texas just ahead of Hurricane Harvey. This Category 4 storm came ashore hours later in Rockport, Texas with 130 mph hours smashing everything in its path. Even as it was downgraded to a Tropical Storm, the torrential rains produced catastrophic flooding, particularly in the Houston area, with record rainfall of more than 50 inches in some communities. More days of unprecedented rains created a historic disaster, driving tens of thousands of people from their homes and leaving an epic path of death and destruction all the way into Louisiana. The storm is the most powerful hurricane to hit the U.S. in 13 years and the strongest to strike Texas since 1961's Hurricane Carla, the most powerful Texas hurricane on record. Hurricane Harvey damage is estimated at $125 billion, second only to Hurricane Katrina. Photo: REUTERS/Adrees Latif
Recovering from Harvey
Six months after Hurricane Harvey first struck Texas, Americares Houston team continues to expand relief efforts, providing medicines, supplies, program and project assistance to 65 local partners in disaster-affected communities across Texas, from Corpus Christi to Port Arthur, including Houston, Beaumont, and many other communities. We have helped local health centers replace damaged medicines, restore health services disrupted by the storm, and expand service. Support has been provided to three health centers for mobile medical services for disaster survivors who lack access. Americares has launched its Hurricane Harvey Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Services Program, providing Psychological First Aid (PFA) training for partners operating mobile medical units. Photo: Annie Mulligan
Responding to a Catastrophe
As the Americares response team on the ground identified needs in affected communities, the organization coordinated and worked with its network of local health centers, free clinics and response partners in Texas, meeting requests for water, medications and supplies with emergency deliveries.
In the midst of disaster, survivors require medicine for acute and chronic conditions, and Americares has provided a range, including asthma medicine, tetanus vaccine and, in the week following Harvey’s deluge, enough insulin to provide a month’s supply for more than 1,000 diabetic patients in the disaster-affected area. Through the City of Houston Department of Health, Americares donated wheelchairs, walkers as well as medicine to the George R. Brown Convention Center mega shelter, where more than 10,000 people sought refuge.
Before public transportation and other ride services had resumed in the Houston area, Americares provided transportation for dialysis patients to treatment centers—some patients had gone for a week without dialysis. Floods closed roads and shut down over 100 area dialysis centers, making routine visits impossible for many.
“Thank God you all came out to get me and bring me to where I get dialysis,” says Beaumont, Texas, resident Melvin. “ They had to shut down everything here, the hospitals, everything. I have to get out to get dialysis and I’m blessed that you all are doing this for me. I really am.”
Americares also supported mobile medical services in hard-hit communities ensuring residents who lost vehicles in the flooding could continue to receive care.
Supporting Local Health Centers
Local health centers that serve low-income and uninsured patients asked Americares for medicine, supplies, logistical help and other support as they saw a surge of patients at the same time that their own staff was recovering from the floods. Some clinics opened their doors to all patients, dropping eligibility requirements and even fees to ensure that survivors have access to the health care they need.
In Beaumont, Texas, where flooding in every direction cut off access from outside communities, Lauren Rahe, who runs the Ubi Caritas free clinic in the city, said Americares was the first organization to help. Relief teams delivered essential hygiene products and baby care supplies for patients left homeless—items patients could not afford to purchase with businesses closed and paychecks halted. The clinic’s community health workers went door-to-door delivering relief items from Americares to families living in temporary housing.
“You were the first people to respond to us and get supplies to the people in need,” Rahe told Americares. “Our patients had trouble making ends meet before the storm. Taking away a job for even a month puts them behind.”
“Americares provides a benefit to the community under regular circumstances, but having that relationship with an organization that is an expert in disaster relief and emergency response and is able to provide boots on the ground is of tremendous value. I don’t think you can put a dollar amount on that."
Our Hurricane Response Partners in Texas
Our U.S Programs partner with an extensive safety net clinic network in all 50 states and Puerto Rico that allows us to build a rapid response to a disaster and build long term programs in support of health system restoration. In addition, we reach out to and identify new partners during a disaster to meet immediate community needs and establish sustainable relationships for strengthening health services. All partners listed below receive emergency medicines and supplies. Partners listed with ** are also receiving program and project support ranging from targeted health initiatives to operational assistance.
**Amistad Community Health Center
|Austin Travis County Integral Care||Austin|
|**Baptist Hospital of Southeast Texas||Beaumont|
|Casa El Buen Samartino||Houston|
|Catholic Charities Beaumont||Beaumont|
|Charlton Pollard Elementary School||Beaumont|
|Christus Spohn Health System||Corpus Christi|
|**Coastal Bend Wellness Foundation||Corpus Christi|
|Corpus Christi Metro Ministries||Corpus Christi|
|**Covenant House Texas||Houston|
|Covenant with Christ Indigent Healthcare||Cleveland|
|Divine Grace Medical Missionaries||Houston|
|Douglass Community Clinic||Plano|
|**Easter Seals of Greater Houston||Houston|
|Feeding America||El Pasoans Fighting Hunger (El Paso); Food Bank of Corpus Christ (Corpus Christi);
Food Bank of the Golden Crescent (Victoria);
Southeast Texas Food Bank (Beaumont)
|Galveston County Health District||Texas City|
|Get Up Project||Austin|
|Greater Killeen Free Clinic||Killeen|
|**Gulf Coast Health Center, Inc.||Port Arthur|
|Harris Health System-Health Care for the Homeless||Houston|
|**Healthcare for the Homeless - Houston||Houston|
|Heart to Health International||Round Rock|
|Hope Clinic - Asian AmericanHealth Coalition||Houston|
|Houston Health Department||Houston|
|**Ibn Sina Foundation||Houston|
|Interfaith Community Clinic||Conroe|
|Legacy Community Health Services||Beaumont|
|Lone Star Family Health Center||Conroe|
|Matagorda Episcopal Health Outreach Center Program||Bay City|
|Mission of Mercy||Corpus Christi|
|North Dallas Shared Ministries||Dallas|
|North Jefferson County Clinic Pharmacy||Beaumont|
|Pasadena Health Center, Inc.||Pasadena|
|Port Aransas Texas EMS||Port Aransas|
|Port Arthur Health Department||Port Arthur|
|**Refugio County Memorial Hospital||Refugio|
|**San Jose Clinic||Houston|
|**Smithville Community Clinic||Smithville|
|Southease Texas Food Bank||Beaumont|
|Spring Branch Community Health Center||Houston|
|St. Vincent De Paul Society Houston||Houston|
|St. Vincent's Student Free Clinic||Galveston|
|**Stephen F. Austin Community Health Center||Alvin|
|Syrian-American Medical Society (SAMS)||Houston|
|Temple Community Clinic||Temple|
|Texas Department of State Health Services||Houston- multiple locations|
|The Salvation Army - Texas Division||multiple locations (Houston, San Antonio, Fort Worth)|
|Triangle Area Network||Beaumont|
|**Vecino Health Centers||Houston|
In addition, four other organizations are receiving program and project support: South Texas Family Planning and Health Corporation in Rockport, TX; Texana Center in Wharton, TX; CHRISTUS Southeast Texas Foundation in Beaumont, TX; Homeland Preparedness Project in Brazoria County, TX.