SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - After Hurricane Otis slammed into Acapulco, Mexico, in the early morning hours of October 25, Direct Relief is bringing care to the community.
“It was a direct hit right over … over 2 million people have been affected," said director Eduardo Mendoza of Direct Relief Mexico.
Leaders of the Direct Relief’s Mexico office said more than 100 hospitals and clinics have been damaged, and medical care is scarce.
“Total loss … infrastructure hotel services are obviously devastated," said Mendoza.
“More than a million people are affected … many houses buildings from the coast are destroyed," said strategic Networking and Development Pepe Cernicchiaro of Medical Impact.
“We also assume a lot of the medical warehousing and supplies have also been affected. We’re looking to resupply essential medicines to the affected area," said Mendoza.
The organization received a $25,000 emergency operating grant to provide medical care in the area.
Field medic packs and an emergency health kit were also provided for medical providers from Direct Relief.
"I know everybody always comes in organizes and supports those mostly so right now my hope is that folks in the US support those in Acapulco and the surrounding areas," said Mendoza.
Direct Relief issued $200,000 in financial support to groups including Medical Impact, a Mexico-based nonprofit offering emergency health services for those in need.
According to Evelyn Salgado, Guerrero state governor, about 274,000 homes throughout the region had been destroyed from the storm’s high winds and flood surges.
Leaders of Direct Relief say the storm brought catastrophic damage throughout the coastal city, known for its resorts, and at least 45 people were killed, and dozens remain missing.
Dr. Giorgio Franyuti is the founder and head of Medical Impact, a Mexico-based medical aid nonprofit that responds to disasters both at home and internationally.
Franyuti said the scale of devastation was well beyond anything he had seen in his career, which has spanned war zones, earthquakes, and volcano eruptions.
“This Category 5 storm was enormous… We didn’t even know where to start,” he said.
Franyuti and his staff of physicians organized a mission inland to the mountainous rural communities of Guerrero state and traveled to five different municipalities.
Franyuti said that in his experience, the time after a natural disaster is often times more deadly than the disaster itself.
He said he is concerned about the spread of a range of infectious diseases.
Medical Impact is working to address the barriers vulnerable communities have towards accessing chronic disease medication.
Medical Impact is preparing for at least four more missions to address this crisis, each lasting for one week. Franyuti said his team has been the only one responding to these areas.
Direct Relief has been responding to Acapulco, equipping organizations with requested medical aid, including Medical Impact.