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California Group Races to Provide Medicines to Hurricane Victims

One group that’s helping provide medical supplies to the states hit by Hurricane Katrina is Direct Relief International, based in Bakersfield, California. The president of DRI, Thomas Tighe, told English to Africa reporter William Eagle that so far, requests from shelters, medical distribution centers and hospitals include primary care items like antibiotics, rehydration solution and first aid supplies for those who had too much exposure to water and other outside elements. There have also been calls for tetanus boosters and medicines to treat dysentery. On a smaller scale, there are requests for medicines for such ailments as diabetes.

Mr. Tighe compared the effort to help victims struck by Hurricane Katrina with relief efforts in Thailand and Africa. In each, he says, relief groups like DRI try to work within the remaining grassroots infrastructure, including community leaders. Mr. Tighe says one element in the hurricane relief effort in the Gulf that’s usually lacking in disaster relief efforts in developing countries is a strong and able military. He says the US military excels in establishing supply lines and depots needed to create an effective relief infrastructure.