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Devastation of Harvey and Irma

September 11, 2017

Dear Friends,

Today, our country is reeling from some of the worst storms in history. Our colleagues at health care facilities and senior living facilities in the southern part of our country, as well as in the Caribbean, have made heart-wrenching decisions about whether to evacuate patients or take the appropriate measures to assure they stay safe. Those with buildings fortified sufficiently against hurricane damage had to decide who they would allow to enter their doors as a safety precaution, as mothers-to-be and other more vulnerable patients worried that the storm could endanger their health. Others are scrambling to ensure they have appropriate medication on hand to treat their patients. With little notice, hospitals in neighboring states made room for Floridian patients.

Here at home, Vermonters worried about friends and neighbors in places hit--both here in the US and on the tiny Caribbean islands that may not bounce back from the storm for years. In the wake of the anniversary of Irene, which wreaked havoc on the Green Mountain State in 2011, Vermonters remember the devastation caused to its roads and bridges and many homes. Because of the brutal nature of that storm, the name Irene was retired from the 6-year circulation of hurricane names after 2011 and replaced with the name Irma.

Although many memories of Irene are painful, we also look back on the way Vermonters pulled together during the weeks, months and years that followed Irene. Scanning the news of this year's hurricanes, we hear similar stories--stories about neighbors helping each other prepare for the storms, about people forming human chains to rescue one another; stories about people opening up their hearts and their homes to others in need, including pets and even larger animals; stories of resourceful Americans using smartphone crowd-sourcing apps to stay in touch in places where signals are weak or nonexistent and to let others know which gas stations had empty pumps and which could serve.

Some Vermonters are heading south to help in recovery efforts and even to provide rescue support. A handful of UVM medical students who were already in Florida are staying at the hospital where they were doing a clinical clerkship, braving the storm to offer whatever help they could. While we all can't be in a place where we can deliver hands-on support, there are plenty of ways to help. You can donate to the fund assisting affected Texas hospital workers at www.tha.org/harvey.  A similar fund will soon be announced soon for those impacted by Irma.


I hope that you and yours are safe in the aftermath of Harvey and Irma.