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In the face of massive destruction: South Coast relief agency sends aid to areas hit by Hurricane Ian

A Direct Relief shipment of medicine, and medical supplies en route to areas hit by Hurricane Ian, in the southeastern United States.
Brea Burkholz
Direct Relief
A Direct Relief shipment of medicine, and medical supplies en route to areas hit by Hurricane Ian, in the southeastern United States.

Direct Relief has already sent more than 40 shipments of medicine and medical supplies, with field team saying much more help is needed.

They are scenes of incredible destruction. Florida is still reeling from Hurricane Ian, which is being called the most destructive storm in the state’s history.

A team from the Santa Barbara-based aid group Direct Relief is in Florida right now, working to get critically needed medicine, and medical supplies to clinics in the disaster zone.

"We just left Port Charlotte, and we were down in Naples. We compared it to like an area hit by a tornado." said Marisa Barnes, the Global Programs Manager for Direct Relief. "There are areas (in Naples) that are severely damaged, and areas that are not."

Because hurricanes are a semi-regular part of the landscape in the Southeastern United States, Direct Relief already had some emergency supplies in place in the region. The had pre-positioned some hurricane kits with essential medicine, and medical supplies in the region.

But, what’s complicating relief efforts is the fact that just a few weeks ago, Hurricane Fiona hit Puerto Rico. The Direct Relief team is used to dealing with multiple emergencies, but things are very busy at its headquarters and warehouse near Santa Barbara Airport.

Annie Vu is a Senior Manager with Direct Relief focused on U.S. and Emergency Response operations. She talks about the kinds of things they are shipping.

"It's really all over the board... there are needs for medications for chronic conditions... there's also a large need for hygiene kits, personal care kits," said Vu. "We also have been shipping out a lot of insulin, especially for clinics that have lost their supply due to power outages."

Vu says Direct Relief’s teams have been very busy preparing aid shipments for the areas impacted by the two hurricanes.

Barnes said the fact is the destruction is massive, and recovery won’t be fast. She anticipates the need for aid could be be long term.

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.