Texas storm response: Direct Relief mobilizes medical aid, commits $250,000 in emergency funding

By Direct Relief International

Texas storm response: Direct Relief mobilizes medical aid, commits $250,000 in emergency funding

Direct Relief committed $250,000 in financial support to communities impacted by powerful thunderstorms that struck Harris County, Texas, and surrounding areas over the weekend with hurricane-force winds. At least eight people have been killed, and hundreds of thousands of people were left without power for days amid stifling heat across the Houston area.

The organization has also opened up access to its inventory of emergency medicines for needs arising from the storms. Direct Relief has shipped and continues to mobilize medical aid for local organizations, including VCare Clinics, and the United Community Foundation, which have requested emergency support, including chronic disease medications and diabetes supplies, and another request of personal care kits, containing hygiene items including soap and shampoo, for people displaced by the storms.

In the wake of a disaster, healthcare organizations most frequently make requests for medical aid in the days and weeks after the most immediate threat has subsided, once it becomes possible to accurately evaluate local medical needs. For that reason, Direct Relief will continue to communicate with organizations on the ground and make its extensive medical inventory available to regional healthcare providers.

Harris County, which includes Houston, is located on the U.S. Gulf Coast. Climate change has hit the area especially hard, with hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, and fierce heat waves all increasing in frequency and intensity. In the wake of a storm or other natural disaster, continuity of care is often disrupted, making it difficult for people who need medication and supplies to manage chronic health conditions.

If conditions like diabetes and hypertension are left unmanaged, they can quickly become life-threatening, which is particularly dangerous when emergency resources are taxed.

While death counts generally only include fatalities directly connected to the storms, indirect deaths are a real and widespread concern. More than 180,000 customers were without power in Harris County, and large-scale power outages can create their own health risks and add another layer of complexity to emergency response. Lack of access to power can harm people who rely on medical devices, rendering home supplies of insulin unusable, and exacerbating existing health issues as people struggle with the relentless heat.

Direct Relief will continue to closely monitor the health situation in Harris County and beyond to provide support as requested.