The last weekend in August, cities along the central Texas Gulf Coast took a major hit from Hurricane Harvey. This was an extremely destructive hurricane, which already marched across the Atlantic Ocean. It was the first major hurricane to make landfall in the United States since Wilma in 2005. It’s hard to believe that it has been 12 years since a hurricane made landfall with such intensity. From Corpus Christi all the way up to the Houston/Galveston area, eastward to Beaumont, and Orange, Texas, many small towns were inundated with floodwaters. I am sure many of you saw the waist deep waters on TV. What many might not have seen were the small towns with eight to 10 feet of water covering their downtown area as a result of the 50 inches of rain that fell over a four-day period. The flooding caused over 30,000 people to evacuate, hundreds of thousands of homes ruined, and nearly 20,000 rescues.
Although Corpus Christi did sustain some wind damage and wide spread power outages, 30 miles north in Rockport, a small town known for its fishing, fresh seafood and clean sandy beaches, the storm caused major damage as it took the major brunt of the storm. Having friends and family in the area, we drove to Rockport to see how we could help the Sunday after the storm. It was amazing the damage we saw in the Rockport area. Houses were missing roofs, and I bet every telephone/power pole for 45 miles was knocked down or broken off at the base. RVs and mobile homes were turned on their sides, or had rolled down the road, and large 100-year old oak trees had been stripped of leaves and branches. Many trees had been uprooted and landed on cars and houses, yet people were out cutting the trees away to clear a path so they could get out. The electricity was out, so we saw many BBQ pits smoking, as people tried to cook up their meat before it spoiled.
Everyone pulled together to weather this storm
It did not take long until Texas diabetes educators swung into action. The Diabetes Emergency Relief Coalition (DERC), headed by the ADA, and joined by JDRF, AADE, AACE, Endocrine Society, and Research America were on hand to provide large-scale relief in affected areas. Participating was our resident Disaster Preparedness Master, Mary Ann Strobel, RN, CDE from waterlogged Houston. She started calling local contacts to see where diabetes related supplies might be needed.
You might recall that Mary Ann played an instrumental part in the Diabetes Disaster Plan when Louisiana had to evacuate – many of the evacuees headed for Houston to escape Hurricane Katrina. Mary Ann gave many presentations on what she learned, speaking at the World Diabetes Conference in Montreal (2009), ADA’s 6th Annual Diabetes Summit (2009), the National Weather Service’s National Hurricane Conference (2009), and AADE’s Annual Conference (2008), to name a few. Her prior training came in handy this year as she led the way, getting the proper equipment and supplies to areas in need.
Pharmaceutical and device representatives also sprang into action, calling to offer diabetes supplies wherever needed. Mary Ann acted as our central contact, inquiring about diabetes needs, and sending the supplies. Everyone pulled together to weather this storm – although it is not yet over as the people of the Texas Gulf Coast continue to recover. Please keep them in your prayers.
About the Author
Barbara Walz is an RN, BSN and has been a certified diabetes educator since 1986. Since 2000, Barbara has coordinated a multi-site diabetes study examining the macro-vascular effects of diabetes at the South Texas Veterans’ Healthcare System under the supervision of Dr. Ralph DeFronzo.