On Public Health Security - June 2015


Hurricane Season Arrives as We Look Back and Learn from Hurricane Sandy


On Public Health Security
June 2015
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Stephen C. Redd

Dear Partners,

As we prepare for possible severe storms this hurricane season, it is timely to remind ourselves that recovery from past events is still in progress. Thousands lost their homes, and millions endured power outages as Hurricane Sandy hit the Northeast seaboard in October 2012. In the US, more than 100 deaths, and untold numbers of injuries, mental health complications, and a variety of other health challenges are associated with the storm. More than two years after Sandy made landfall, damaged homes are still being remodeled and rebuilt, and roadways and other infrastructure are still in the process of being restored. Just this April, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development approved New Jersey’s plan for spending $502 million in the third and likely final round of federal Sandy disaster recovery aid. As the 2015 hurricane season begins, I want to share with you a significant effort underway, a shared project between federal, state, local, and community partners to conduct research to inform and support ongoing Sandy recovery efforts.

In October 2013, CDC awarded $7.1 million in 13 separate grants supporting research addressing long-term recovery efforts. These two-year awards represent the first time the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has funded research needed by local communities to determine the best ways to prepare for and recover from natural disasters like hurricanes. The research is focused on four priority areas:

  1. Mold mitigation and related health issues
  2. Characterization of death and disease after the hurricane
  3. Health hazard exposure, recognition, and mitigation among response workers and volunteers
  4. Evaluation of public health systems response to the disaster.

The grants, which are being coordinated with others administered by the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, and by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, are part of a broader effort by HHS to support public health system recovery from Hurricane Sandy.

Partnerships are a critical element of the Sandy grant program. Applicants were required to form partnerships with state, tribal, or local public health agencies located in FEMA-declared major disaster areas and to provide adequate funding support for active participation of health agency partners in research activities. Applicants were also asked to describe their approach to obtaining community input to shape the research and their plans for both informing affected communities about the proposed studies and for sharing research findings with the communities to support recovery efforts.

These studies will support disaster recovery efforts by informing our response strategies, helping us target recovery efforts towards populations with the greatest needs, and prioritizing areas and groups for intervention in preparing for future disasters. The knowledge gained about critical factors for quick community recovery can be applied to a variety of different types of disasters, so the lessons learned will benefit communities both within and beyond a hurricane’s reach. I am very much looking forward to learning from the outcomes of these studies — PHPR will share the results as they become available, via PHPR’s Sandy research website and other venues. This research will offer valuable solutions for federal, state, and local public health, as well as health care systems and communities; together we will be better prepared to withstand future public health threats. I will keep you posted as research findings become available.

As we look to learn from Hurricane Sandy research, I would also like to learn from you as well, the partners who take the time to read eNews. I will be reaching out in the newsletter occasionally for your thoughts on a variety of ways we can enhance our partnerships. This month, I would like to start with partner interactions. Please provide feedback about the frequency, mode, and quality of our interactions to PHPRPartners@cdc.gov. Your feedback is central as we look to further develop relationships to improve the work that we do together to benefit the field of public health preparedness and response. I look forward to hearing from you, and wish you a very happy and healthy start to summer.

Thank you,
Stephen C. Redd, MD
Director, Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Noteworthy Updates

CSTE Annual Conference

This year’s CSTE Annual Conference in Boston will include plenary sessions and workshops with public health leaders, breakout sessions, roundtable discussions, and poster exhibits. Attendees include over 1,200 public health epidemiologists from across the country to share their expertise in surveillance and epidemiology. The conference will be held from June 14 – June 18.

National Association of County and City Health Officials Meeting

Reach the year’s most concentrated audience of select local health department staff at NACCHO Annual 2015 in Kansas City, MO set for July 7 – 9. This year’s theme: Envisioning the Future – Creating our Path.

Have an Interesting and Impactful Preparedness Story to Tell?

We love to share with our partners the amazing preparedness work being done in the field. If you have a compelling story to tell, submit it here using our template. We look forward to seeing all of your wonderful stories.