Emergency Response to Hurricane Florence

by International Medical Corps
Emergency Response to Hurricane Florence
Touring infectious disease treatment protocols.
Touring infectious disease treatment protocols.

As International Medical Corps’ emergency response to Hurricane Florence in September of 2018 has ended, this update will be the final one. Thanks to the support from GlobalGiving and other donors, International Medical Corps enabled access for some 162,500 people across seven locations to relief and recovery. Our teams, with support from nonprofit organizations, provided 160 health consultations through mobile medical units and temporary shelters; and distributed to health facilities nearly 8,000 hygiene and wound-care kits, which included household cleaning supplies, personal hygiene provisions and bandages, among other items.

To continue supporting International Medical Corps and our GlobalGiving projects, please visit our “Emergency Response to the Ebola Outbreak in DRC.” The second largest Ebola outbreak in history, with 2,084 suspected or confirmed cases as of today, has officially crossed international boundaries into Uganda. Your support is urgently needed to help alleviate the crisis.


From Relief to Self-Reliance in North Carolina

In May 2019, our team returned to North Carolina to identify training needs to prepare the communities for future disasters in collaboration with local health and medical professionals. Our assessment identified a desire for infectious disease training for providers at local healthcare organizations, including health departments, healthcare facilities, long-term care facilities and emergency management staff.

We facilitated the development of a curriculum covering infectious disease prevention and control in disasters with the New Hanover County Health Department, the Southeastern Healthcare Preparedness Region and the New Hanover Regional Medical Center. The training sessions included some 80 participants from diverse backgrounds. “The training facilitators loved seeing the breadth of experience of training participants,” highlights Ryann, Training Officer with International Medical Corps’ Emergency Response Unit. “There were pharmacists, veterinarians, vector-borne disease specialists, environmental health services supervisors, and the hospital emergency response team, to name a few.”

Thanks to GlobalGiving and other donors, International Medical Corps has helped organizations in North Carolina, like the New Hanover County Health Department, transition from relief to self-reliance. Lisa, the Preparedness Coordinator for the New Hanover County Health Department, tells us that, “this project afforded us the opportunity to pull together partners throughout the region to experience the training together, deepen our working relationships, and prepare to move forward with additional training and exercise opportunities.”

The International Medical Corps’ training program will continue with a full-scale simulation exercise scheduled to take place in Fall 2019. After the training is completed, the participating healthcare professionals will return to their places of employment able to strategically influence their department-specific plans related to infectious disease prevention and control in emergencies and natural disasters.

Thanks to the support of the GlobalGiving community and other donors, the training curriculum developed in North Carolina after Hurricane Florence will now be used to help communities affected by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and Hurricane Michael in Florida.

Training participants on isolation and quarantine.
Training participants on isolation and quarantine.
Participant manual for the training curriculum.
Participant manual for the training curriculum.
Transitioning from relief to self-reliance.
Transitioning from relief to self-reliance.
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Trevor and a volunteer engaging with stakeholders
Trevor and a volunteer engaging with stakeholders

Trevor, our Domestic Emergency Specialist here at International Medical Corps, says that, “We’ve been able to provide critical gap coverage in medical services to those displaced by Hurricane Florence or isolated from their normal access to medical care when they needed it most.” Our work, which began on September 14, when Hurricane Florence made landfall as a Category 1 storm over North Carolina, was critical to the affected populations given the extensive flooding and disruptions to normal activities which resulted from the four days of heavy rainfall.

We deployed our teams ahead of the storm so that we could be on the ground to help coordinate our response along with volunteer teams and local partners. Our activities reached seven communities with 160 patient consultations and the distribution of 6,298 hygiene and wound-care kits.

Those community health centers, long-term care facilities and local health departments impacted by Hurricane Florence still need support to build back better. Our teams are not only providing cash grants to assist these health centers, but also trainings through county health departments and regional healthcare coalitions to build resilience ahead of the 2019 hurricane season.

We believe “in the power of training, both the transfer of knowledge and the experience of mentored practice, as the cornerstone of sustainable humanitarian aid,” explains Trevor. Two of these trainings, on infectious disease prevention and control, will enroll nearly 100 health professionals from the regions most heavily impacted by Hurricane Florence.

International Medical Corps remains committed to supporting the long path to resiliency for healthcare facilities impacted by Hurricane Florence. We thank you and all the GlobalGiving donors for your support of our work helping health centers in North Caroline prepare for the next hurricane season.

Map of International Medical Corps Locations
Map of International Medical Corps Locations
Distributing hygiene and wound-care kits
Distributing hygiene and wound-care kits
Patient consultations for medical care
Patient consultations for medical care
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International Medical Corps team in North Carolina
International Medical Corps team in North Carolina

On Friday, September 14, Hurricane Florence hit North Carolina, causing extensive wind damage and catastrophic flooding across the central and southeastern part of the state. During this ongoing “slow-motion disaster,” millions of men, women and children have been affected.

International Medical Corps deployed ahead of the storm and reached areas most in need of medical care across the state. With the help of a mobile medical clinic that we deployed with a partner, our medical teams have served seven affected cities and towns, focusing on rural and harder-to-reach locations where health centers and evacuee shelters faced increased demand.

Tammy from North Carolina was among the millions affected. When Hurricane Florence hit, Tammy and her family had to evacuate their home due to flooding. They went to a campground, but that flooded too, so they went to a motel. Things went from bad to worse when the ceiling at the motel collapsed. Someone told her about a shelter, and the family ultimately found a place to rest there. Our volunteer doctors and nurses met Tammy at the shelter, where we were proving healthcare services to the residents.

Feeling ill, exhausted and stressed, Tammy visited with International Medical Corps volunteer, Dr. Moore. Like many shelter residents, she suffered from chronic illnesses: congestive heart failure and sleep apnea. Dr. Moore prescribed medication for Tammy, and helped her secure an appointment with a cardiologist for increased care. Tammy was very thankful that Dr. Moore and International Medical Corps were there to help her and her family during a very stressful time.

Across our relief efforts in North Carolina, International Medical Corps focused on reaching those in need of health assistance as well as distributing hygiene and sanitation supplies. Moving forward, our team is prioritizing building resilience so health centers and communities can prepare for the next inevitable disaster.

We thank the GlobalGiving community for your continued support. 

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U.S. Emergency Response Lead, Trevor Rhodes
U.S. Emergency Response Lead, Trevor Rhodes

The impacts from Florence are worsening as it brings catastrophic flooding in the eastern areas of North Carolina. Dozens and dozens of roads are closed and many towns are now completely inaccessible due to the life-threatening floods.

International Medical Corps is working with local EMS authorities to reach the cut-off communities and access potential routes to provide urgently needed support. Burgaw in Pender County – a county of approximately 65,000 residents and 30 miles north of Wilmington, North Carolina –  is one of the many currently inaccessible towns in need of life-saving assistance. As of September 16, the town has not been able to receive any medical support, the hospital has been evacuated and there have been some 300 swift water rescues within the area, with more expected.

Havelock, south of New Bern in North Carolina, is also in need of support. The current shelter is exceeding its capacity of 200. In one night alone, the city rescued 150 people from the flood waters, while power, water and waste management systems were down as of September 15. 

Our emergency advance team is working with state authorities to reach one of the many towns cut-off from care and in critical need of assistance, such as Burgaw or Havelock. We are deploying a shelter medical team – a team made up of a lead, physician, and registered nurses – to provide health services. We continue to work with partners on the ground to deploy mobile medical units and supplies, and plan to coordinate with the network of federally qualified clinics that serve low-income communities to determine how to best support them.

Regarding the current situation, our U.S. Emergency Response Lead, Trevor Rhodes, states, “when people are cut off from their normal access to care due to the damage to the environment, the subsequent health complications that arise on day 2, 3, 4, 7, are the ones that are typically unprepared for and cause the greatest amount of harm.” Hear more at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lk1bg018i0c&feature=youtu.be. 

We are also increasingly concerned about the affected populations’ livelihoods as miles of crops are completely flooded and destroyed. North Carolina is a major supplier for soybeans, corn and more, raising alarms for both farmers and the overall status for agriculture in the areas.

Given the dynamic and ever-changing situation on the ground, our teams are remaining flexible to provide support wherever it’s needed most, prioritizing communities that have not yet received assistance.

We thank you and the GlobalGiving community for your support as our team works to deliver critical health and related services, as well as urgently needed supplies to families and communities affected by this slow motion disaster.

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Organization Information

International Medical Corps

Location: Los Angeles, CA - USA
Project Leader:
Kimberly Laney
Los Angeles, CA United States

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