From the National Center for Disaster Medicine & Public Health
We are all watching anxiously as the upsetting images and harrowing stories come in regarding Hurricane Harvey, Irma and Maria. It is tragic to see the death toll rise and particularly hard to know that emergency responders are among the dead.
Evidence tells us that the most vulnerable people – children, elders, people with access and functional needs - are likely to suffer long-term health consequences of being flooded out of their homes without access to needed medications and equipment, potentially unable to contact their regular healthcare providers, sheltering outside of familiar environments. The National Center for Disaster Medicine and Public Health encourages those caring for affected children or elders to utilize our FREE resources:
Tracking and Reunification of Children in Disasters: https://www.usuhs.edu/ncdmph/research-education/pediatric-preparedness/reuniting-children
Psychosocial Needs of Children in Disasters: https://www.usuhs.edu/ncdmph/research-education/pediatric-preparedness/psychosocial
Caring for Older Adults in Disasters: https://www.usuhs.edu/ncdmph/older-adult-curriculum
We also know that the mental health challenges subsequent to an event of this magnitude will be significant. The Disaster Distress Helpline from SAMHSA is available 24/7 for anyone in need of crisis counseling: 1-800-985-5990 or https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/disaster-distress-helpline
The public health consequences of flooding disasters are well documented and range from mold growth to water and vector-borne disease risk. There is a wealth of quality material compiled by our colleagues at the National Library of Medicine: https://disasterinfo.nlm.nih.gov/dimrc/floods.html (link is external)
Voluntary organizations throughout the country are mobilizing and, as we have seen before, there is a significant donations management element to the response. Sending funds to trusted organizations is the best way for citizens to contribute.
The National Center for Disaster Medicine and Public Health is thinking of our deployed colleagues and interagency partners who are working hard to save lives and limit injuries during this ongoing event.