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South Coast Based Non-Profit Gearing Up For Sustained Hurricane Harvey Relief Efforts

DRI is ready to make large scale shipments of medicine, and medical supplies from its Santa Barbara County warehouse

A Santa Barbara County based relief agency is getting some badly needed medical supplies to victims of Hurricane Harvey.

Direct Relief International already had ten modules of emergency supplies pre-positioned at medical clinics in Texas before the hurricane hit, and is preparing to ship millions of dollars worth more if needed.

The non-profit currently has more than $130 million dollars worth of medicine, and medical supply in its warehouse facilities ready to move to Texas.

DRI’s Tony Morain arrived in Texas before the hurricane hit, and rode it out to be ready to help assess medical supply needs in its aftermath. Morain talked to KCLU News as he was moving some of the prepositioned medical supplies from the coastal area to Houston, where the need for them is acute. He has been been literally chasing the hurricane, trying to get supplies to people in its wake, as well as assessing the need for more help

Morain was in a town near Corpus Christi Saturday when the hurricane hit, and he admits it was an overwhelming experience. He says he’s never been in a hurricane before, and the rain, and wind were overwhelming.

Meanwhile, the team at DRI’s headquarters in Goleta has been busy for the last few days gearing up for what could be massive shipments of medicine, and medical supplies.

DRI President and CEO Thomas Tighe says the non-profit anticipates one of the biggest needs will be for medical supplies to help displaced people with little, or no money living with chronic medical conditions like asthma. Tighe says they are also prepared to ship emergency packets of personal items like toothbrushes and diapers.

The focus is on getting warehoused supplies from Santa Barbara County to Texas as the field workers track where they are needed, and DRI is working with medical manufacturers to line up more items.

DRI officials say that ironically, it was another hurricane which helped them develop a plan which included things like pre-positioned supplies, and staff staff early to be ready for a disaster of this scale. It was Hurricane Katrina, which moved onshore in Louisiana 12 years ago today (8/29.)

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.