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Caribbean, U.S.

Hurricane Irma

  • November 21, 2017
Help Disaster Survivors

Americares had emergency response teams in Florida and the U.S. Virgin Islands in the wake of Hurricane Irma, one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes ever recorded. The storm battered the Caribbean and southern Florida with destructive force, killing at least 69 people, destroying homes and businesses and leaving millions without power. In the midst of significant logistical challenges, Americares emergency teams in the Caribbean and Central and South Florida are coordinating shipments of critical medicine and supplies for survivors while meeting with response and health partners to continue needs assessment and restoration of health services. Hurricane Maria added more misery for Caribbean islands. 

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“The needs in Florida are similar to those in Texas in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. We are addressing urgent health and medical needs, providing medicine and supplies for displaced families and helping to restore health services.” 

Americares Vice President of Emergency Response Garrett Ingoglia

Confronting Irma

In Florida, Americares is working to restore health services in storm-damaged communities across the state. Americares is delivering medicine and supplies to replace any damaged by floodwaters and to meet an increased demand as people return to their homes. Clinics in the Florida Keys, Homestead, Miami, Melbourne, Oakland Park and Orlando are receiving assistance; Americares is also assisting a shelter for homeless youth in Fort Lauderdale. Americares has already provided more than $15 million in medicines and supplies to 20 partners in Florida. 

Before Hurricane Irma made landfall, Americares pre-positioned medicine in central Florida, contacted 80 partner health centers to offer help, and positioned a team in Orlando so they could quickly travel to the most heavily impacted areas once the storm had passed. An Americares Emergency Response Team has been working in the Florida Keys, assessing the status of partner health centers and hospitals and providing assistance.

In the Caribbean, our emergency response teams are coordinating shipments of critical medicine and supplies to local health organizations in islands that have been devastated by the storms. Americares emergency shipments have reached hospitals in St. Thomas and St. Martin, two hard-hit islands. More than $2M of medicine and supplies has been flown in with more shipments planned. To date, Americares has nearly $18 million in medicine and supplies in Florida, the U.S. Virgin Islands and St. Martin. Most recently Americares deployed another emergency response team to the USVI to continue response assessment and delivery of aid.  The team visited hospitals, clinics, skilled nursing facilities and emergency shelters. Initially, the team filled urgent gaps of medicine and medical supplies.

Response teams unloading urgently needed emergency med shipments in St. Thomas following devastation by Hurricane Irma.
Lindsay O’Brien, Senior Director, U.S. Programs works with the response team getting much needed supplies to our safety net clinic partners.
The power of Hurricane Irma to lay waste all the lives in its path. Photo: William Vazquez
Tom Cotter hand delivering meds to Dona Rosado at Key West Health & Rehab. Keeping the local health centers open and supplied is a critical part of our emergency response.
Kate D., Director, Emergency Programs at Opa Locka Airport, Florida, as the team loads a shipment of medicine headed for St. Thomas. Photo: William Vazquez

Always Ready to Respond

Americares has professional relief workers ready to respond to disasters rapidly 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 responds to an average of 30 natural disasters and humanitarian crises worldwide each year and establishes long-term recovery projects. 

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.