International Medical Corps mobilized resources and deployed emergency response teams to the Carolinas after Hurricane Florence caused catastrophic flooding, focusing especially on rural and harder-to-reach locations—where providing emergency care can be difficult—were in need of critical assistance.
Though the majority of International Medical Corps’ relief efforts take place overseas, we also respond to disasters in the United States—such as in Puerto Rico and Florida in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017. With domestic resources stretched as hurricane seasons have intensified in recent years, International Medical Corps is working more closely than ever before with agencies in the United States to respond to disaster. In this case, we worked closely with state authorities to reach the cut-off communities to provide urgently needed support.
We deployed a number of response teams, including a shelter medical team (made up of a lead, physician, and registered nurses) to provide health services. We worked with partners on the ground to deploy mobile medical clinics, shelters and supplies, and we continue to coordinate with the network of federally qualified clinics that serve low-income communities to determine how to best support them. In addition, our modular mobile field hospital and other critical supplies remain pre-positioned in Memphis, ready to be quickly mobilized to help support response efforts in the Carolinas and elsewhere.
Check this page frequently for updates about International Medical Corps’ efforts to assist those in need—and to find out how you can help.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does International Medical Corps respond to disasters in the US?
International Medical Corps is there, no matter where, ready to respond immediately when disaster strikes. In 2017, International Medical Corps teams were in Florida and Puerto Rico following hurricanes Irma and Maria, providing medical supplies, clean water storage, generators and cash grants to primary healthcare networks, and deploying mobile medical teams to provide primary healthcare in hard-to-reach areas.
What hurricane-response services does International Medical Corps provide?
During a sudden-onset disaster, International Medical Corps can provide emergency medical relief—volunteer doctors and nurses, medical supplies, mobile medical clinics, and a modular, portable field hospital. We also work with local First Responders to support and help restore local health systems, which can be offline or significantly impaired after a natural disaster. As a global first responder with almost 35 years of experience delivering emergency relief in difficult environments, we have the capacity to respond anywhere in the world—fast. We can have a team on the ground in less than 24 hours, and a fully functional field hospital set up in less than 72 hours.
What experience does International Medical Corps have responding to hurricanes?
International Medical Corps was founded in 1984 to relieve the suffering of people affected by conflict, natural disaster and outbreak of disease. We have decades of experience responding to large-scale disasters, such as the Indian Ocean Earthquake and tsunami; earthquakes in Haiti, Nepal, Mexico and Japan; Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines; and humanitarian crises around the world, including famine, disease and conflict.
What are some health concerns associated with hurricanes, and how can I be prepared?
Some of the major health concerns arising from hurricanes come from wind, flooding and power outages. In particular, once the worst of the storm has passed, there are still significant health concerns you must consider.
Flooding due to storm surges can damage medications, cause infection of open wounds and increase the potential for transmission of waterborne diseases. Flooding may limit access to safe drinking water. And standing water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes, which can transmit disease.
Power outages mean that you might lose the ability to refrigerate medications that need to be kept at specific temperatures. And a lack of lighting also increases the danger of getting injured as you walk around.
Finally, the combination of flooding and downed power lines present a danger of electrocution.
Here are some resources that can help you prepare for a disaster:
- Health risks and precautions to take before, during and after flooding.
- Health risks and precautions to take with power outages.
- After a major disaster it may take hours or days for help to arrive. Plan ahead with this downloadable first-aid checklist.
- Access to clean water is critical to preventing disease. Be ready by storing at least 5 gallons of clean water per person.
How can I help?
The best way to help in a disaster is with a cash donation to an experienced organization that is working in the affected area. Unlike donations of clothing, blankets and other items, cash can meet any need, anywhere. It can buy generators, purchase medical supplies and quickly help get the right kind of assistance to the right place when it’s needed most.
International Medical Corps also accepts volunteer doctors and nurses to work in the field during a disaster response. You can see our volunteer opportunities here.