Hurricane Season 2018: Tunnel Vision Is Not an Option

Hurricane Season 2018: Tunnel Vision Is Not an Option

September 11, 2018

September 11, 2018 - Fresh on the heels of our activation for Hawai’i for the impact of what became Tropical Storm Lane, Healthcare Ready is bracing for what looks to be the peak of hurricane season showing its ugly head. Energy was high as we worked through the duration of the storm in Hawai’i to connect emergency managers with healthcare officials and to optimize lines of communications between these stakeholders. We managed our key in-house resources like Rx Open, disseminated timely situational reports to our members and partners, and joined the necessary wave of information being spread around social media platforms. Now, Healthcare Ready is cracking its metaphorical knuckles because the call to action has not settled yet.

The major focus for this week will be on Florence, the Category 4 hurricane approaching the east coast. Florence is currently floating around the Atlantic Ocean almost a thousand miles away from the states. While this distance may sound like quite a hike, a hurricane moving at Florence’s speed can make that trip in a couple of days. Hurricane Florence threatens to reach the Carolinas no later than early Friday morning. The storm is expected to gain speed and strength as it approaches the states, so hurricane watches are appropriately in effect for the entire eastern shore of South Carolina, North Carolina, and parts of southern Virginia. The National Hurricane Center is warning of “life-threatening” surge on the coast of the Carolinas.

Hurricane Florence is expected to bring possibly historic levels of rain to a slew of states in the mid-Atlantic region of the U.S., with up to 20 inches anticipated for parts of North Carolina and Virginia. Heavy rain will go inland as far as West Virginia and include states as northern as Maryland, Delaware, and southern parts of the tri-state area.                    

As we seek to find a balance between mitigating the public health impacts of the first hurricane to hit the mid-Atlantic this season and potentially managing any personal impacts to our own staff located in this very region, Tropical Storm Olivia, in the Pacific, presents an additional challenge. We are forced to conduct a quick evaluation on a barely two-week old effort in Hawai’i so that we can turn right around and manage another threat to the same islands. It seems that Mother Nature decided that it would be important to test the resilience of Hawai’i twice within the span of a few weeks. We can certainly hope for the best, but to say that all we can do is hope is to ignore the concrete ways in which we at Healthcare Ready are positioning ourselves to support the healthcare supply chain that provides for the Hawai’ian community. The lingering question is: has Hawai’i fully recovered from the last storm, Lane, to touch the island? Or will any outstanding impacts be compounded and have a more lasting effect? Our initial assessment is that while we may not be able to affirm the former, the latter question should be less of a worry.

The Pacific Ocean is not completely quiet outside of Olivia’s path. According to the US Joint Typhoon Warning Center, Mangkhut has reached the level of Super Typhoon on its journey from Guam and towards the Philippines. Guam experienced heavy wind and rain. Healthcare Ready is keeping an eye on the territory as it deals with these weather challenges. Tropical Depression Paul should hopefully have no significant land impacts, as it is likely to downgrade to a remnant low on Wednesday before nearing any inhabited islands of the Pacific.

In the Atlantic, there is also a Category 2 hurricane (Helene) headed North that should not affect the U.S., while Tropical Strom Isaac is headed due West to the Caribbean Islands. We’ll be on the lookout for any changes for these storms as they hopefully dwindle in strength over the course of this week.

Healthcare Ready will continue to provide a necessary avenue of support to those located in areas impacted by the storms. Over a million citizens living in the coastal areas of the Carolinas and Virginia are being forced to evacuate. Our recommendations for these storms mirror those found in our blog about our preparations for Lane. If you would like additional information, please take a look at the following resources:

  • Follow us to stay tuned in to Healthcare Ready’s efforts during this hurricane season.
    • Twitter: Keep up with the most recent updates on the progress of these storms, from Healthcare Ready and our partners.
    • Facebook: Find additional information and resources to prepare yourself for these storms.
  • Our website provides invaluable resources to ensure that your healthcare needs are addressed during the storms.

Kinaya Hardie

Kinaya completed a summer internship with Healthcare Ready and is now a program analyst with the organization. Her work has focused on community resilience and equity in emergency preparedness. Kinaya is a recent graduate of the Johns Hopkins University with a bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience. She was born and raised in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, specifically having resided in Prince George’s County for most of her life. During her undergraduate career at Hopkins, her extracurricular activities included working as a part of diversity-related organizations on the campus and participating in community service and activism in Baltimore. With her campus job, Kinaya contributed to the philanthropic efforts that funded financial aid and programming for the various Johns Hopkins schools and organizations. Kinaya has also worked as a research assistant at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in the Caterina Lab, where she aided with a project on the molecular basis of neuropathic pain. She is excited to be a part of the Healthcare Ready team, as it allows her to dedicate time to spreading awareness of health issues, learning about the implications of disasters on vulnerable communities, and getting a taste of the industries outside of academia that incorporate the expertise and information gained by STEM research.