Life is made of threes. . This hurricane season, the United States experienced a triumvirate of hurricanes: Harvey, Irma and Maria. Each was distinct with unique characteristics, providing equally challenging response efforts. Even more challenging were the hurricanes’ ensuing arrival one after the other.
Hurricane Harvey started it all. Instead of passing through the state after its initial hit, Harvey retreated back over Houston. It brought a deluge that set a new annual rainfall record at an all time high of 51 inches as the wettest Gulf Coast storm recorded. The amount of rain shut down businesses and pharmacies in various parts of Texas and Louisiana. People were prisoners in their own homes as the flood waters stood guard in the streets. Individuals used their personal boats and vehicles to extricate their neighbors to safety. Those who were mobile found Rx Open as an essential tool for identifying operating pharmacies to gain access to their medication. Healthcare Ready fielded a number of patient calls, mostly from the elderly, providing them with resources, phone numbers, and relaying insurance information that ensured access to essential medicines during this disaster.
Hurricane Irma was less noble than her namesake. Like a great tactician, she deceived her opponent by feigning to the east, resulting in mass evacuation to the western part of Florida. Unfortunately, that would be her exact path of destruction. It wasn’t that Florida was unprepared. The state isn’t a stranger to hurricane threats. In fact, many of those who called Healthcare Ready spoke to the degree of preparedness evacuees took to ensure they had medicines prior to the storm’s landfall. Many evacuees crossed state lines during their exodus. This added difficulty to the situation. For example, families were handcuffed financially and out of earshot of their doctor, taking shelter far from home. Irma alone wasn’t the only activation. For 16 days, Healthcare Ready was responding to both Harvey and Irma, all the while bracing for the situation to escalate.
Puerto Rico took a direct hit from Hurricane Maria, a storm that brought the waters of Harvey and the winds of Irma, and subsequently demolishing an already depressed island. Our culture portrays Mary (or Maria, in Spanish) as benevolent, watchful, and charitable, however this hurricane has been far from forgiving. She has taken everything away from citizens during her malicious attack. For Puerto Ricans, evacuation wasn’t as easy as it was for Floridians. The physical isolation of Puerto Rico has presented many challenges, but so has the fragile infrastructure on the island. The hurricane left the island blind. People are still living without electricity and normal lines of communication are down. As a result, we did not receive as many individual patient calls as with Harvey or Irma, leaving many wondering, “what did we do before the internet and electronic banking to communicate?” With the aid of our partners, Healthcare Ready brought on-the-ground responders satellite phones and radios to help provide more reliable communication capabilities.
This hurricane season was unprecedented with regard to the succession in which these catastrophic storms hit, each seemingly trying to outdo each other. In everyday life, threes can be found everywhere: they’re in our fairytales, our science, and our sports. But there is also another number. There was a single house that survived the wolf, a collection of atoms creates matter of which everything is made, and it takes a well-placed batted ball to stay alive against two strikes. The unifying number is one. Neighbors embrace in support; governments heed the call for help, companies and organizations assemble together for a single cause. Everyone is united to bring support and stability to all affected by these three hurricanes. Over time, these communities will strengthen. These states will become resilient. This country will rebuild.