“When natural disasters hit, it’s critical the relief organizations have cash resources to immediately provide food, water and medical assistance to those displaced or injured,” says John Damonti, president of the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation. “We work closely with our relief partners to determine needs and to quickly respond to help people in impacted communities.”
Hurricane Harvey, the first major hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. in over a decade, hit southeastern Texas in August, destroying homes, knocking out power and forcing thousands of residents to flee. The storm caused devastating floods in the Houston-metro area, cutting off all transportation and overwhelming rescuers with the number of calls for help. The foundation -- donated$250,000 to two long-time partners in disaster relief efforts, Americares and the American Red Cross, to provide desperately needed basic supplies and medical care for survivors.
Hurricane Irma pummeled Florida in early September, with high winds and lashing rain taking out power lines and flooding streets. The Tampa area was particularly hard hit by the storm, with thousands of people displaced and widespread power outages. To provide immediate relief to the community, the Foundation provided a $100,000 cash donation to the Central Florida Red Cross for Tampa.
Following quickly behind Irma, Hurricane Maria, a category 4 storm, barreled across the Caribbean, landing a direct hit on Puerto Rico. Knocking out power and cell phone coverage, the devastation is widespread. Officials estimate it will take months to restore some basic services. Relief partners are springing into action and the foundation is donating a total of $1.760,000 to a number of partners including the Puerto Rico Red Cross, Americares, Direct Relief International, American Cancer Society-Puerto Rico Chapter and Cancer Care.
In conjunction with a volatile hurricane season and twice in two weeks, Mexico was rocked by major earthquakes. The quake in Mexico City claimed hundreds of lives and destroyed homes and buildings. The foundation is donating $50,000 to the Mexican Red Cross for immediate needs.
At the same time, disaster hit the west coast of the United States with devastating wild fires in Northern California. The fires were sparked in early October and raged for weeks, forcing 100,000 people to evacuate the areas. Across 150,000 acres, nearly 9,000 structures were destroyed and 43 people were killed. To assist those who have lost home and businesses, the foundation is contributing to the American Red Cross.