October 4, 2017

Confronting the Aftermath of a Month of Devastating Natural Disasters

After a series of catastrophic natural disasters, AbbVie Foundation provides support with more than $4 million in grants.
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Disaster ReliefPhoto credit: Heart to Heart International

This September, every week seemed to bring news of another natural disaster. Our social media feeds filled with heart-wrenching images of flooded streets, broken homes and displaced families.

Each of the recent events – three powerful hurricanes and two major earthquakes – would have been devastating on their own. But the collective impact of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria and the two earthquakes in Mexico is unlike anything we’ve seen in recent history – and there is urgent need for relief for the affected communities.

Horrific Hurricane Season

Relief efforts were just starting to solidify in the wake of Hurricane Harvey when a new hurricane – Irma – caused extensive damage in the Caribbean before battering the state of Florida. The storm also impacted Georgia, the Carolinas, Alabama and Tennessee.. The death toll reached more than 70 in the Caribbean and the U.S., where millions of people throughout the region still remain without power.

Then, on September 20, an incredibly powerful category 4 storm hit Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and Dominica, destroying homes, businesses, schools, health care facilities, infrastructure and agriculture. In Puerto Rico, Hurricane Maria tore out cell phone towers, satellites and most of the electrical grid, making communication almost impossible and access to power dependent on generators.

All three hurricanes have created shortages of food, clean water, fuel, housing and medical supplies and have caused significant hardships for those in affected communities, including those suffering from medical conditions.

Earthquake Rocks Mexico

On September 7, while Irma was gathering speed and power in the Caribbean, an 8.1 magnitude earthquake struck off of the southern Pacific coast of Mexico. The states of Chiapas and Oaxaca, home to about 9 million people and two of the most impoverished areas in Mexico, were closest to the epicenter. More than 100 people perished due to the earthquake.

And, as Maria battered Puerto Rico, a magnitude 7.1 earthquake hit central Mexico, including the capital Mexico City. Thirty-eight buildings collapsed in Mexico City alone, and 360 people lost their lives.

Responding to the Crisis

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, AbbVie and AbbVie Foundation had already donated product and $1 million to support relief efforts; as each new disaster struck, additional support was quickly put in place to help assist the regions affected by Hurricane Irma, Maria, and the Mexico earthquakes.

Disaster ReliefThe aftermath of Hurricane Maria (photo credit: Heart to Heart International)

“After the devastating events of the past month, we are anxious to do whatever we can to help those affected by these disasters,” says Tracie Haas, president, AbbVie Foundation. “We are so grateful to have partnerships in place with trusted organizations, which allows us to support targeted efforts to recover, rebuild, and offer much-needed relief.”

$4 million has been donated to:

  • American Red Cross, for deployment of: volunteers, emergency response vehicles, shelters, ready-to-eat meals, hygiene kits, medical supplies and cleaning products.
  • AmeriCares, for meeting urgent medical needs within affected hospitals and medical care facilities and addressing the needs of the displaced with tetanus vaccines and medications; shipping and procurement of medicines and medical supplies.
  • Direct Relief, for outreach and support to affected partner health clinics, preparation, procurement and packing of emergency shipments, transportation of emergency supplies and medicines.
  • Heart to Heart International, for operation of their Mobile Medical Unit (MMU) that is providing basic emergency triage, wound care, tetanus vaccinations, lab testing and assistance with lost medicine.
  • International Medical Corps, to support of health facilities and mobile clinics; access to clean water and sanitary facilities including cholera treatment and prevention, distribution of relief supplies and medicines.
  • Feeding America, for disaster operations including procurement/distribution of food and water.
  • MAP International, for procurement, shipping and distribution of hygiene kits.
  • Project Hope, for direct medical assistance through mobile medical units/in support of static clinics; distributing personal and family hygiene kits, water purification tablets; and engaging mental health specialists and social workers, with focus on rural and harder to reach communities.

In Mexico, additional AbbVie Foundation support to Direct Relief will enable their earthquake relief efforts including the procurement and distribution of needed medicine and supplies, the repair of damaged medical facilities and the operation of mobile medical units. In the Chiapas region, Direct Relief’s recovery efforts will assist Partners In Health and Casa de la Amistad, AbbVie Foundation partners, manage existing programs for vulnerable populations.

The AbbVie Foundation is also matching employee donations to many disaster relief organizations, including those above.

Media inquiries:

Mary Kathryn Steel
Email: Mary Kathryn Steel
Call: +1 847-937-4111