Calm before the Storms: Direct Relief Taps Advanced Data Analytics and Visualization Tech in Global Hurricane Preparedness Program

  • Massive medical pre-positioning effort spans nine U.S. states, nine countries at risk of storms

  • Advanced data analysis and visualization tools drive the pre-positioning of medical essentials

  • Researchers at Direct Relief have identified U.S. populations most vulnerable to hurricanes

SANTA BARBARA, Calif., June 11, 2014 –With the 2014 hurricane season officially underway, humanitarian organization Direct Relief has expanded its extensive medical pre-positioning efforts to safeguard dozens of communities in the U.S. and internationally that are particularly vulnerable to storm-related health risks.  The pre-positioned materials include medical essentials that have been identified as being the most critically needed in the aftermath of hurricanes and other events that cause similar disruptions and prevent residents from accessing needed medications and supplies.

"Effective emergency response takes into account complex relationships between social factors and natural events,” said Direct Relief’s Director of Research and Analysis, Dr. Andrew Schroeder. “Understanding these relationships better through analytic technologies and techniques makes us more able to anticipate needs and mitigate risks."  

Through the use of powerful data analysisand visualization tools that include those offered by Palantir and Esri, Direct Relief is able to pull together large amounts of information into a common framework to better understand, visualize, plan for, and manage complex emergencies before they occur.These insights allow Direct Relief to strategically stage the Hurricane Preparedness Packs in socially vulnerable areas and flood zones along likely hurricane paths.

The Hurricane Preparedness Packs, which comprise more than $1 million in medical resources, are bound for 63 health facilities near the Gulf and Atlantic coasts, the Caribbean, Central America, and the Philippines.

“Smart preparation is the best defense when a hurricane strikes. Nonprofit clinics and health centers have repeatedly demonstrated that they are a key component of an effective response and speedy recovery,” said Direct Relief Director of US Programs, Damon Taugher. “It is critical that clinics in areas most often hit by extreme weather are bolstered with additional supplies to utilize when the devastation first occurs.”

Each U.S. Hurricane Preparedness Pack holds enough medical supplies to treat 100 patients for a variety of conditions, from basic trauma injuries to chronic illnesses, for a 72-hour period, during which follow-on support can be mobilized. The International Modules contain supplies to care for 5,000 people for one month.

Direct Relief first developed the pre-positioned modules for nonprofit clinics and health centers in the U.S. following its extensive responses to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 and its subsequent work with the Texas Blue Ribbon Commission on Emergency Preparedness and Response.

Direct Relief is able to supply the Hurricane Preparedness Packs with donations from individuals, pharmaceutical and medical corporations, and through a long-standing relationship with FedEx.

The Hurricane Preparedness Packs are provided free of charge to healthcare safety-net facilities. If not used for an emergency, the materials are absorbed into clinics’ general inventory to provide care for low-income patients at the end of hurricane season on November 30.  

About Direct Relief

Founded in 1948, Direct Relief is a leading medical relief organization, active in all 50 states and in 70 countries and is the only U.S. nonprofit to obtain Verified Accredited Wholesale Distributor (VAWD)© certification by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy.  The organization has been among the world’s largest medical suppliers in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, has top charity ratings, including four-star and “top-notch” rating from Charity Navigator, and a 100% fundraising efficiency rating from Forbes magazine. Among other distinctions, Direct Relief’s corporate humanitarian collaboration with FedEx was recognized by CECP, a coalition of 150 CEOs united in the belief that societal improvement is an essential measure of business performance, with its prestigious 2014 Directors’ Award. For more information, visit


Hannah Rael
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