As the southeast braces for Irma, a Connecticut nonprofit already has crews in the Caribbean, and Americares said it will soon deploy emergency teams to Florida as well.
Stamford-based Americares is getting stretched thin. They've had teams in Texas the past few weeks dealing with Harvey, and now they're turning their attention to Irma.
It’s all about getting medical supplies and safe drinking water to areas impacted by what is shaping up to be a devastating storm.
“I was there when Isaac came through as a tropical storm. It’s pretty scary and I will tell you many Puerto Rican’s are terrified of hurricanes because they have seen what it can do,” said Dr. Anne Peterson, of Americares.
She has spent three-and-a-half years living in Puerto Rico, so watching Irma battle the islands, and now setting its sights on Florida, means she and the team at Americares are going to be very busy for the foreseeable future.
"We also have someone pre-deployed in the Dominican Republic ready to respond there. We have an ongoing program in Haiti and the team has this morning been meeting with the prime minister's office and getting ready for a response and evacuation of the northern part of Haiti, and we're already pre-positioning supplies into the Miami area and we'll pre-deploy people if we need to,” Peterson said.
They have plenty of supplies ready to go inside their Stamford warehouse, focusing on emergency kits for those displaced, safe drinking water, tetanus vaccines, and insulin; and that's just a start.
Peterson says she was on the phone Thursday morning, not only with her team, but also with Puerto Rico's secretary of health, getting an up-to-the-minute report from those on the ground.
"The lack of electricity the secretary thinks could last for months. That's going to impact everybody's everyday life and access to regular health care,” Peterson said.
Americares works with more than 1,000 free and charitable health clinics across the U.S., including more than 50 in Texas that they're supplying following Harvey and a number more in Florida and South Carolina in anticipation of Irma.
As for Puerto Rico, she says it appears the island will need a lot of help.
"Where we're looking at right now is the two islands to the northeast of Puerto Rico, Culebra and Vieques have had extensive damage, the secretary of health is going to be sending a team there by boat tomorrow (Friday), our team is hoping to join them, going to do an assessment, expect they will need both medicine and medical supplies, probably medical teams and rebuilding of facilities,” Peterson said.
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