The Unseen Impacts of the Texas Floods
Last year, Baton Rouge flooded. I remember sitting in my house, panicking over what to do. Some of my concerns were the same as every other person in the city. Will we flood? How close is the water? If we have to leave, what should we bring? However, we had an added complication.
My daughter has cancer. And with that comes a whole host of other problems. What if we run out of oral chemo? She has clinic in two days to get IV chemo; will the flood be gone by then? What if she needs to go to the emergency room and we can’t get there? What if flood waters give her a deadly infection, since she is immune compromised?
Going through any natural disaster is devastating. Juggling losing your home and everything inside with also having a medically complex child is beyond my comprehension. Children with cancer must go to the emergency room for any fever. They frequently need blood and platelet transfusions. Many of them have feeding tubes and require specialty formula. Most are on specialty medications that are difficult to find under normal circumstances.
Last year, I felt the panic of the what ifs. I am so thankful that we did not flood. But there are currently many families in Texas living my What Ifs. Friends of mine from online pediatric cancer groups have shared heartbreaking stories:
- Being unable to start a clinical trial that was their last shot because MD Anderson was underwater.
- Needing blood transfusions and not being able to access Texas Children’s Hospital.
- Leaving their home behind with waters rising, to live in a shelter with very little access to medical care and constant fears over infection.
Both MD Anderson and Texas Children’s Hospital will be open for outpatient services within the next week, but staffing is a concern as many of the employees are dealing with flood damage themselves. Families dealing with cancer and other medical concerns are still wondering about receiving the lifesaving care they need.
If my Facebook feed is any indication, Baton Rouge is impatient to begin helping their neighbors to the west. As we look for ways to donate and help, remember the families facing not only the loss of their furniture, pictures, and kitchen tools, but their sterile tubing supplies, their wheelchairs, their incredibly expensive formula. Remember those who will be facing health problems in the months to come because of the flood.
If you want to help, here are some concrete things you can do:
- Donate blood and platelets! Houston is the fourth largest city in the nation. Their supply of donated blood products is going to plummet. The Blood Center is shipping blood products to Houston and is actively asking for donations.
- Contribute to The Little Lobbyists, a group providing medical supplies and assistance to families with medically fragile children.
- Donate to Texas Children's Hospital to assist them in repairing the damage from the flood.