09 Jun
Partnering for Emergency Response Michelle Thompson

As Hurricane Matthew barreled up the East Coast last fall, downing trees and power lines and turning highways into rivers, life in the Carolinas came to a standstill. When the storm cleared and the floodwaters began to recede, families were just beginning to understand the full extent of the damage.

On a mission for Americares, the health-focused relief and development organization, I was there to offer help—vaccines to protect first responders clearing debris, first aid kits and medicines to replace prescriptions damaged or lost. As I met with health care providers and first responders along the way, bottled water was consistently one of the top needs.

Severe flooding can compromise water systems, and advisories were issued warning residents to boil tap water before drinking, cooking or bathing. At one rural South Carolina health clinic, the director arrived the morning after the storm to a crowd of patients waiting for help. They were in search of food, water, baby diapers and other essentials, and were hopeful the clinic could offer assistance. Many in the area with high unemployment would have struggled under the best of circumstances to replace just a few of those items. Now, faced with replenishing all of the perishable food in their refrigerators in addition to spoiled medications, some residents were overwhelmed. 

I was focused on helping local organizations meet the most pressing needs—especially the immediate need for clean, safe water. Thanks to Americares longstanding partnership with Nestlé Waters North America, we delivered 11 truckloads—over 400,000 bottles—for families in the southeastern United States affected by the storm. 

Hurricane Matthew is just one of the dozens of emergencies we have responded to over the years. Since 2004, Nestlé Waters and Americares have made more than 300 shipments to help communities in need across the U.S.—from hurricane-battered towns along the East Coast to communities throughout the West damaged by wildfires. Most recently, we partnered with the Salvation Army to replace several truckloads of bottled water Americares and Nestlé Waters keeps prepositioned in Texas for use in emergencies. The supply had been quickly depleted after a spate of severe weather this spring. 
Working with Nestlé Waters allows us to swiftly respond to requests for bottled water during emergencies. The company quickly checks available inventory at its 30 production facilities in the U.S. to ensure the water is delivered to disaster survivors from the nearest warehouse. To date, Americares and Nestlé Waters have delivered an astounding 10 million bottles in partnership together. 

Nestlé Waters always helps when a community is in crisis. It is by working with trusted partners like Nestlé Waters that Americares is able to help communities prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters.

Photos courtesy of the Dillon Free Medical Clinic in Dillon, South Carolina.

Michelle Thompson is an Emergency Response Manager for Americares

By: Michelle Thompson