Today, we’re faced with the stark reality that natural disasters are more frequent and more devastating than ever, leaving many — particularly those in the most vulnerable communities — in a constant state of crisis. According to the UN, climate-related disasters have increased more than 80% over the last four decades. 2020 set a new record for economic impact in the U.S.: 22 separate disasters caused $95 billion in damages, with the greatest impact caused by the most active hurricane season ever.
The COVID-19 pandemic posed additional challenges, introducing a host of new obstacles when preparing for and dealing with hurricanes – with overburdened hospitals and health systems, social distancing requirements and increasing food and economic insecurity making a challenging time even more difficult.
With an expected range of 13-20 named storms in 2021, the U.S. is anticipating another above-normal Atlantic hurricane season, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) – with Florida, Texas and Louisiana among the regions that are most vulnerable to hurricanes.
New Initiatives Help Build Year-Round Resilience
This year, we are ramping up our longstanding commitment to ensure communities are better prepared when disaster strikes.
Abbott and the Abbott Fund are implementing new targeted disaster resilience strategies to help prevent and mitigate the impact of hurricanes on communities in New Orleans, Dallas, Orlando and Puerto Rico — all areas where Abbott has established partnerships. Key efforts include:
- Funding for food banks and community health clinics to strengthen their capacity to mitigate disasters, including investments in infrastructure and systems such as generators, wireless hot spots and cold storage, staff training and emergency protocols.
- Support for food banks to address child hunger and meet ongoing nutrition needs for families, with direct funding, product donations and employee volunteering where possible. These efforts include programs that send kids home with food for themselves and their families on weekends and during school breaks.
- Employee blood drives in Orlando, Dallas and Puerto Rico will help strengthen local blood supplies all year – and when disaster strikes, employees will be ready to quickly step up to meet local needs.