Direct Relief continues to help Puerto Rico, which felt the wrath of Hurricane Fiona on Sunday.
Before the hurricane season, the Goleta nonprofit positioned more than 16,000 pounds of medicine at health centers.
And the power stayed on at those centers, thanks to solar and battery systems that Direct Relief provided after Hurricane Maria in 2017. The nonprofit explained the additional systems should prevent the widespread loss of medications experienced during Hurricane Maria.
Direct Relief also said the systems are keeping water flowing in isolated communities.
On Monday, 1.3 million Puerto Ricans were left without power, but because of Direct Relief’s solar and battery systems, Atlantic Medical Center in Barceloneta and Healthpromed in Vieques remained open and were treating patients.
Community water systems reported Monday that they could continue to function because of Direct Relief’s backup power systems.
From its disaster response hub in Puerto Rico, Direct Relief staff are contacting health centers around the U.S. territory. Many of the centers were working toward reopening today, but blocked roads are making it more difficult for medical staff and patients to reach the centers.
In addition to Puerto Rico, Direct Relief positioned aid ahead of the hurricane season in Anguilla, the Bahamas, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Cuba, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Panama, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
“It’s important to move fast but move thoroughly so that we don’t clog up the distribution channels with stuff that isn’t essential,” Direct Relief President and CEO Thomas Tighe said at a Puerto RIco response meeting Monday.
According to a news release, Direct Relief has facilitated more than 400 projects to strengthen Puerto Rico’s healthcare system through Federally Qualified Health Centers and many other local nonprofits.
Direct Relief has furnished 93 health center sites in Puerto Rico with 170 FDA-compliant pharmaceutical and laboratory refrigerators and freezers. Direct Relief said the units have enough capacity for approximately 6 million vials of vaccines.
Direct Relief also noted it has facilitated the installation of 25 solar-power water wells in community water systems not served by the Puerto RIco Aqueduct and Sewer Authority. Direct Relief said those wells serve almost 14,720 residents.
And Direct Relief said fire and emergency medical services stations have been outfitted with solar energy systems.
For more about Direct Relief, go to directrelief.org.
After slamming Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, a strengthened Hurricane Fiona, now a Category 2 hurricane, is forecast today to pass near or to the east of the Turks and Caicos. Fiona is expected to keep getting stronger, and forecasters say it will be a Category 3 or Category 4 hurricane by Thursday when it passes near or west of Bermuda.