In the wake of a natural disasters like Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean Islands and Hurricane Maria in many of the same Islands and Puerto Rico, response needs to follow an organized agenda with number of priorities. Below is a lists that we hope is useful. It is based on UNHCR’s Handbook for Emergencies (2007). Our list of priorities for this emergency include:
Get with the local Dept of Health (the CDC or equivalent) as soon as possible;
Place yourself in the list of essential teams with local Dept of Health (the CDC or equivalent), FEMA, the Army, the Coast Guard, etc.
Get in with the press: including radio, TV, the governor’s office, etc.
Do a needs assessment of the mosquito & vector control program to see what, if anything is available that can be used and what has been done so that the “outside players” can bring materials and supplies to fill gaps;
Conduct aerial surveillance using drones (NEED FAA certified pilots in the USA) in the areas listed in #6;
Prioritize target areas based on population and proximity to problem or potential sources: water sources, mangroves and other flooded areas, refuge centers, hospitals, temporary camps (including relief workers from the Army, etc.), churches, schools, etc.;
Train community worker or residents of #6 above on what to look for and what they can do to help you help them;
Do #7 above with relief workers from the Army, polce, etc.;
When –if needed- place control materials focusing on natural (environmental management, etc.), biologicals (IGRs, bacteria, etc.), chemical (NON OPs) close to the areas or set up a staging area;
Get communications: about 20 (or as many as you can ), two-way radios with chargers. COMM is very limited without them;
Whoever is planning on coming to help you, ask them to please bring about 4 days worth of food each just for good measure.
I will not bore you with vector control details, but please do NOT think about using thermal foggers for mosquito control. They make a very visible impression and political statement, but are frequently used at the wrong time of the day and consume large amounts of fuel (gasoline and diesel), which is a luxury at the moment. Stay focused on handheld ULV sprayers for now and anything that can be manually applied to drinking water.
Puerto Rico did not have malaria or anything “exotic” but it accepted several hundred refugees from islands that did after Hurricane Irma. Keep the flow of refugees and displaced persons that in the back of your mind.
Pay attention to the possibility of a rodent and filth fly population explosion. These will increase as residents discard food items and other perishables because of lack of power or contamination. Protect your food supplies and sources from these pests as much as possible. Rodents cannot control their intestinal tracks and will contaminate more food than they consume. Flies can transmit gastrointestinal diseases.
I trust this is helpful. Let us know if there's anything we can do to help you.
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