SC Hospitals Receive Patients Evacuated from Hurricane Maria


COLUMBIA, SC (WACH) --- Hundreds of people looking to help after Hurricane Maria are coming to South Carolina, and it's taking a major effort to make sure the state is ready. Patients from damaged areas need healthcare, and the Palmetto state is stepping in.

For weeks, even months to come people from Puerto Rico and the Caribbean islands will flee what they've known to be home, some arriving by plane to this hanger at Columbia Airport. Jeff Straub with the Natural Disaster Medical System said the space at the airport in West Columbia is just a sample of what they train for annually. So far, they’ve received four evacuees, and they’re expecting that number to increase throughout the week.

A group of experienced doctors, local non-profits even soldiers are on standby for people arriving after hurricane maria. "If we were impacted we would want somebody to open their arms to our community partners and our citizens and know that they are there," Straub said.

About twenty beds are set up. They will be used to transport the patients from the plane and back into the hanger. Afterwards, a medical team will access each patient before sending them off to a local hospital. Providing evacuees, the care and compassion they deserve is what doctor Chris Lombardozzi said is the real mission. "A lot of what we do is not about the medical," Lombardozzi said. "Remember that when something like this happens, people have lost their homes, they've sometimes lost their families."

Lombardozzi said, unlike other natural disasters, the five hours spent in the air allows the patient time to regroup. "all of the folks who are here are here for one reason,” Lombardozzi said. “it's to be prepared for natural disasters and other disasters when they happen."

If you want to check on a loved one, call Puerto Rico’s Federal Affairs Administration at 1-202-778-0710.

For those who know someone who needs help on the island, call 787-777-0940. This is a radio station that is receiving emergency calls.

Another number you can call is the hurricane hotline at 1-877-976-2400. A tourism company set up the hotline for hotels, guests and industry partners.

Callers are asked to be patient and keep calling if the line is busy. Also, do not hang up if you are on hold. Another option is to use American Red Cross’s website to search for people who have already registered themselves as safe. Click here to search for your loved one.

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