CDC Foundation Activates Fund to Address Widespread Health Challenges Following Hurricane Harvey

Staff Report From Metro Atlanta CEO

Friday, September 8th, 2017

In the wake of some of the worst flooding in U.S. history, the CDC Foundation is activating its Emergency Response Fund to help the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tackle the health challenges that the citizens of Texas and Louisiana are facing following Hurricane Harvey. The fund will extend CDC's response, providing essential supplies and vital assistance as frontline experts work with partners to address community health needs and public health infrastructure in the storm's aftermath.

"The destruction and flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey is devastating, and we know some of these serious public health hazards will take months and possibly years to address," said CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D. "CDC's hurricane response experts predict significant public health needs around infectious disease threats, mosquito control, water safety, occupational health risks, as well as unanticipated needs. CDC Foundation's funds provide real-time financial support and amplify CDC's emergency response efforts to meet these immediate health issues."

CDC staff are on the ground along the Gulf Coast and working with local, state and federal officials on a variety of health challenges, including:

  • General and medical shelter surveillance for infectious disease outbreaks

  • Public health messages and risk communication

  • Water, sanitation and safety evaluations for food/water

  • Mold abatement

  • Industrial contamination (HAZMAT) mitigation/abatement

  • Mosquito management from standing water

While there are many organizations that respond with aid during a disaster, the CDC Foundation's fund is unique because it supports CDC experts as they address public health threats that arise in the days, weeks and months after an emergency situation. During emergency responses, the CDC Foundation plays a key role by facilitating partnerships that can be utilized before and after federal funds are made available. There are also situations where the use of federal funds will not be available during an emergency response and CDC needs the CDC Foundation to help deploy resources with speed, efficiency and flexibility.

"The impact of this storm will live on for years," said Judith Monroe, MD, president and CEO of the CDC Foundation. "When a health threat strikes, speed saves lives. Right now, the people of the Gulf Coast need our help. We encourage everyone—individuals, corporations, philanthropies and others—to support CDC and its team of experts who will work collaboratively with other organizations to address the health threats that are starting to emerge as the waters recede."

In the past, the CDC Foundation's Emergency Response funds helped save and improve lives by supporting CDC's efforts in response to Hurricane Katrina, the Ebola and Zika epidemics, the Haiti earthquake and the Southeast Asian tsunami. Following Hurricane Katrina, for instance, the CDC Foundation provided support for a range of activities, based on local resources and needs. These activities included funds used to replace two county health department facilities in Mississippi, medications for evacuees who left their homes and communities, funding and equipment for New Orleans health department staff relocated to Texas to provide for evacuees, and support for an information hotline in Georgia for evacuees.