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.
Americares set three goals for our response to Hurricane Harvey and our team continues to focus our work around them: restore health services for the most vulnerable survivors, expand health services to help survivors cope with stress and trauma, and prepare health facilities for future storms.
Restore Health Services
Nearly a year after Hurricane Harvey first struck Texas, Americares Houston team continues to expand recovery efforts, providing medicines, supplies, program and project assistance to 70 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 and supplies, repair facility damage, restore health services disrupted by the storm, and expand service through added staff and extended hours. Support has been provided to health centers for mobile medical services for hundreds of disaster survivors who lack access.
In remote Refugio, Hurricane Harvey left the roof of the county’s only hospital damaged and leaking; Americares supported repairs, restoring health care for 7,000 county residents and a safe work environment for the 30 health workers who staff the facility.
“They got me back on my medicine for my diabetes. I’m able to work now. What you all did for the people of Texas during the hurricane was just awesome.”
Caring for the Most Vulnerable
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.
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.”
Expand Health Services to Help Survivors Cope with Stress and Trauma
In Harvey affected communities, nearly every health worker is a hurricane survivor, living in a community recovering from floods and damage as well as caring for survivors dealing with trauma and loss. To support and retain health care staff, Americares has committed to educate 4,000 health workers to manage their own stress as well as care for patients whose mental health is affected by the storm. One year after the hurricane, Americares has trained more than 970, physicians, nurses, clinic directors, health aides and other health staff, along with first responders, expanding health care capacity and creating a more resilient health care community in Texas. The training and workshops will continue through 2019.
“The training was very helpful for my staff. We were struggling with a lot of emotions…we had to be strong for the community." - Charlotte Jackson, Executive Director, Just Do It Now
Prepare Health Facilities for Future Storms
To restore health services quickly during emergencies, health clinics must have and actively maintain a disaster plan. Americares is conducting preparedness workshops throughout Texas to ensure that clinics and social service agencies have customized disaster plans that address continuity of operations, coordination and communication. Preparedness workshops equip local health partners with plans and training to facilitate decision-making in an emergency with the ultimate goal of enhancing the post-disaster health outcomes of disaster survivors, providers, and communities. The workshops will continue through 2019.
“Americares disaster preparedness workshop helped us see what had gone well during Hurricane Harvey and what we could have done better, so more survivors could have accessed health care more quickly.” – Lara Hamilton, director, Christ Clinic, Katy, Texas
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 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|
|The Aransas Pass Fire Department||Aransas Pass|
|The Aransas Pass Police Department||Aransas Pass|
|Austub Travis County Integral Care/Integral Care||Austin|
|**Baptist Hospital of Southeast Texas||Beaumont|
|Casa El Buen Samartino||Houston|
|**Caring Place Community Clinic||Mansfield|
|Catholic Charities Beaumont||Beaumont|
|Charlton Pollard Elementary School||Beaumont|
|**Christus Health Foundation of Southeast Texas||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|
|Disaster Services Corp. SVDP-USA||Irving|
|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 Heart International||Round Rock|
|Help! I'm Hurting Inc.||Port Arthur|
|**Homeland Preparedness Project||Brazoria County|
|Hope Clinic - Asian American Health 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|
|New Beginnings Ministries of Rockport||Rockport|
|North Dallas Shared Ministries||Dallas|
|North East Partners in Power (P.I.P) Inc.||Houston|
|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|
|**South Texas Family Planning and Health Corporation||Rockport or Corpus Christi|
|Southeast Texas Food Bank||Beaumont|
|Spring Branch Community Health Center||Houston|
|St. Vincent de Paul Sacred Heart Church||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|
|Tejas Health Care||La Grange|
|Temple Community Clinic||Temple|
|**Texana Center||Wharton & Rosenberg|
|Texas Department of State Health Services||Houston- multiple locations|
|**The Agape Clinic||Dallas|
|The Salvation Army - Texas Division||multiple locations (Houston, San Antonio, Fort Worth)|
|**Tomagwa||Tomball & Houston|
|**Triangle Area Network||Beaumont|
|United Health Partners||Houston|
|**Vecino Health Centers||Houston|