“They were there for us. I would be in the hospital without them.” Jo, a retired nurse
“They were there for us. I would be in the hospital without them.”
September 28, 2022: “I looked down the street and saw this big black thing coming — it was literally a wall of water,” says Jo, a retired nurse who lives in Cape Coral, Florida.
Minutes later, the filthy storm surge from Hurricane Ian swept into her home, swirling around her ankles, and Jo ran through the flood to safety at her neighbor’s elevated house. And that was just the beginning: For months after the storm, Jo lived in her damp and damaged home, without power or clean water. A year later, she lives in a trailer while she slowly rebuilds.
One light in Jo’s life: Samaritan Health and Wellness Center. “They were there for us,” she says. “I would be in the hospital without them.” Like many survivors, Jo suffered infections from the dirty environment after the storm and sought care. Samaritan Health and Wellness was badly damaged but, with emergency funds from Americares, was able to treat patients and operate fully in a temporary location while its landlord made repairs.
Hurricane Ian delivered a massive blow to central Florida communities, killing nearly 150 people and leaving damage estimated at $100 billion.
Samaritan Health and Wellness was just one of 16 Florida partners Americares has supported in the year after Hurricane Ian: In all, Americares has provided more than $1.5 million in aid. The emergency funds allowed clinics to stay open and meet the health needs of thousands of hurricane survivors living with low incomes. Americares also provided local clinic partners with enough medicine to fill more than 1,100 prescriptions, including tetanus vaccine, chronic disease medicine and the antibiotics that helped Jo.
Americares mental health experts also provided surge support, filling in for and providing direct care to health workers besieged by storm damage. “They gave me a tremendous amount of strength in the midst of something that I wasn’t sure I had strength for,” says Gina Wynn, assistant vice president of community services at Charlotte Behavioral Health Care, a not-for-profit provider based in Charlotte County.
Because of Americares support, Samaritan Health and Wellness was able to open satellite locations, including one in Pine Island, a remote community cut off from the mainland during the storm. “We have families still living in tents,” says Erin Lollar-Lambert, executive director of the Greater Pine Island Alliance, which coordinates aid. “Having Samaritan Health and Wellness here at the center of the island is so crucial to help us rebuild both the mental and physical health of our communities.”
For many survivors, recovery is slow. Some, like Jo, had hurricane insurance, but not flood insurance; other families still wait for insurance payments. For partners, Americares support was a lifeline. “Without Americares, we would not have been able to open,” says Suzanne Roberts, CEO, Virginia B. Andes Volunteer Community Clinic in Port Charlotte, which received emergency funding from Americares after the clinic roof failed during the storm. “We are doing well. But our patients aren’t that fortunate. They are still living with tarps on their roof or in tents, waiting to get some type of relief. It’s a slow process. In the meantime, we have to be open for our patients and never closed for our patients.”
“Repairs are coming slowly, as I can afford them,” says Jo. “We are still struggling.”
November 21, 2023
Americares today announced that it was awarded $5 million by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration to continue to meet the health needs of the thousands of Venezuelans and other migrants entering Colombia daily in search of a better life.
October 18, 2023
Open Call by 290 organizations from 50 countries for an Immediate Ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and Israel to Prevent a Humanitarian Catastrophe and Further Loss of Innocent Lives
September 20, 2023
September 28, 2022: “I looked down the street and saw this big black thing coming — it was literally a wall of water,” says Jo, a retired nurse who lives in Cape Coral, Florida. Minutes later, the filthy storm surge from Hurricane Ian swept into her home, swirling around her ankles, and Jo ran through the flood to safety at her neighbor’s elevated house.
September 19, 2023
Americares and the Center for Climate, Health and the Global Environment at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (Harvard Chan C-CHANGE), today announced health clinics in Arizona, Florida and Louisiana will pilot a program to protect the most vulnerable patients from the health impacts of climate change, including extreme heat.