September 1, 2017
HHS Medical Reserve Corps volunteers aiding local response to Hurricane Harvey
Amid the devastation wrought by Hurricane Harvey along the Texas coastline, more than 1,000 local members of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) Program have been volunteering to meet the overwhelming community needs in the storm’s wake.
“While Medical Reserve Corps volunteers are vital to supporting their local communities’ public health every day, their efforts during disasters are essential,” said HHS’ Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) Dr. Robert Kadlec. “These volunteers live in the communities where they are serving and have been personally impacted by the storm, which makes their readiness and willingness to respond to their neighbors’ needs especially admirable.”
Medical professionals who serve as members of their local MRCs also are providing medical services at shelters, as well as psychological first aid and other mental health services for patients and family members.
Veterinary volunteers with the MRC assisted with animal rescues and provided emergency care in Texas, and are caring for displaced pets at an animal shelter in Oklahoma where animals from storm-impacted areas have been transported after local resources were strained.
MRC volunteers also are supporting local Hurricane Harvey response efforts in 16 Texas counties, managing administrative functions at 28 shelters and three evacuation centers; providing information and resources to storm victims at call centers, and helping to manage and distribute donations, including cleaning supplies, personal care items, diapers and other items.
Approximately 20 MRC units active in local responses to Hurricane Harvey come from the following Texas counties: Bell, Bexar, Brazoria, Brazos, Dallas, Denton, Fort Bend, Galveston, Nolan, and Tarrant. In Louisiana, MRC volunteers from Orleans and Calcasieu Parishes have contributed to the disaster response. In Oklahoma, MRC volunteers from Tulsa and Oklahoma Counties are participating in the response.
The MRC is a national network of volunteers, organized locally to improve the health and safety of their communities. The MRC network comprises nearly 1,000 community-based units and almost 200,000 volunteers located throughout the United States and its territories. MRC volunteers include medical and public health professionals, as well as other community members without healthcare backgrounds. MRC units engage these volunteers to strengthen public health, improve emergency response capabilities, and build community resiliency.
In addition to the support being provided by MRC volunteers, HHS has more than 1,100 personnel from the National Disaster Medical System and U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps on the ground providing care to people affected by Hurricane Harvey. These personnel have so far provided care to more than 1,000 people affected by the storm.
Tips that residents in affected areas can take to protect their health are being provided by ASPR at www.phe.gov/harvey.
For previous updates regarding HHS activities related to Hurricane Harvey, please visit https://www.hhs.gov/about/news.
To learn more about HHS resources related to Hurricane Harvey, please visit https://www.hhs.gov/hurricane-harvey.
Critical updates also are available at:
Secretary Tom Price, M.D. - @SecPriceMD
HHS - @HHSgov
ASPR - @PHEgov
CDC - @CDCgov