Many Texas communities banded together to bring relief to those affected by Hurricane Harvey, but with lasting damage and further hurricane chaos spreading in areas such as Florida and Puerto Rico, efforts are still needed to ease the destruction. Prosper native and current Dallas resident Dr. Staci Benson is one of many locals doing her part in organizing relief efforts.
“It started with Harvey, when they didn’t have medical supplies in the Convention Center,” Benson, who owns and operates Paradigm Family Health in Dallas, explained on how she first got involved in relief efforts.
Benson stated that another doctor alerted her to the medical supply shortage during Hurricane Harvey and suggested they get medications and help.
“We raised some money on Facebook. Three days later the Federal Pharmacy came in,” Benson said. “I started off by myself with a few other doctors organizing via social media.”
With Federal Aid reaching those in the heart of the Houston devastation, the funds and supplies gathered by Benson were then shipped to other coastal Texas areas that were in need, such as Port Aransas, Port Arthur and Belmont. It wasn’t long until supplies were needed in Houston again, with additional needs soon becoming apparent in other areas such as the Florida Keys and the Virgin Islands.
After finding medical orders for supplies being filled by other licensed medical professionals with similar relief ambitions, Benson and the other doctors decided to team up. She joined her fellow doctors in partnering with the Baton Rouge Emergency Aid Coalition, also known as BREAC.
BREAC was started last year after Baton Rouge flooded. Professionals came together to bring medical and financial support, as they are doing now for those affected by hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.
“We are still providing relief efforts to individuals and professionals along the Texas Coast,” Benson stated, noting that though Federal Aid is beginning to pull out, much help is still needed.
Overall through her multiple relief networks, Benson has aided in raising roughly 100,000 dollars. Professionals were able to use these funds and donations to directly assist those in need, with many in Puerto Rico facing serious and life-threating conditions.
Supplies that Benson has helped to gather are currently being shipped from Dallas. One flight just shipped 500 pounds of supplies, while flights that departed on Friday, Sept. 29 carried 3,500 pounds and 2,500 pounds, respectively. As of Friday, more shipments were scheduled for Monday, Oct. 2, with daily efforts being made to send supplies as quickly as possible. Benson stressed the importance of raising money, donating supplies and coordinating their transportation to Puerto Rico.
“Puerto Rico is worse off than Harvey on every single level,” Benson said. “There is no aid or logistical support [like] we had with Harvey.”
Benson stated that anyone who wishes to assist can donate online at www.breac225.org. There is an Amazon Wishlist set up with specific needs and a PayPal account available. Donators can specify “medical relief” in their PayPal message to ensure that the money is going towards medical supplies, or else the money will be divided between Harvey, Irma and Maria relief as needed.
“People [in Puerto Rico] are dying left and right,” Benson stated, adding that food, water, medical supplies and proper hygiene are major concerns right now with the death toll rising at a worrying pace.
Benson stated that if anyone in the area has access to a personal airplane capable of making a flight to Puerto Rico and back, they are in dire need of transporting more supplies. The airplane would need to be capable of making the round trip without refueling, because fuel currently isn’t available in Puerto Rico.
Anyone who has access to such a commercial aircraft should e-mail Emma Polini at email@example.com. There is a huge need for assistance with transporting supplies to those in need.