Kansas City area organizations respond to help Hurricane Ida victims

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Rescue operations are far from over in Louisiana as the state pushes forward with repairs to its electrical grid badly damaged by Hurricane Ida.

It could be weeks, if not months, before reliable power is restored in parts of the Gulf Coast. Still, Kansas City metro organizations are already deploying to help.

Heart to Heart International is planning to bring their mobile medical center down to Batesville, Mississippi to start and work their way down into Louisiana as they coordinate with regional emergency management.

Tetanus is an unexpected danger during clean-up with bad conditions amplifying risks from rusty nails and chainsaw blades.

“This is our wound care section,” Heather Lee, a former Black Hawk helicopter pilot turned disaster response director for Heart to Heart International said during a tour of their mobile medical center.

She said the small mobile medical centers like this are necessary as already-overworked hospitals struggle to regain power.

“Now you have people potentially living in congregate areas, there’s potential spread for COVID and so we have to be really mindful of that when people are coming to receive care that we’re not creating a secondary crisis after that with COVID,” Lee said.

Dan Neal, vice president of operations for Heart to Heart International said they expect to encounter large groups of people forced to leave home without so much as a toothbrush.

“We also see a lot of folks who have been separated from their medications. So, we have a lot of chronic disease,” Neal said.

Lee described a common situation she has seen when responding to other hurricanes.

“Somebody comes to see us and they know that they’re diabetic but they haven’t been able to check their sugar level, they’re already stressed out, they can’t really maintain their diet because you’re just dealing with whatever food you can find without refrigeration,” Lee said.

“So we’re able to check their blood sugar and then tell them ‘Oh it’s a little bit out of balance. Let’s get you back to what you need,'” Lee said.

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