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With parts of the Bahamas still underwater, how relief organizations will deploy

Now that Hurricane Dorian has finally receded from the Bahamas, relief organizations are able to step in. Susan Mangicaro is heading up that effort for the International Medical Corps, a nonprofit group of volunteer doctors and nurses who deliver emergency health care and other services. Mangicaro talks to Judy Woodruff via Skype from Orlando before she heads for the Bahamas.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Let's hear more now about how relief groups are approaching this disaster with the perspective of a coordinator who has organized responses in previous crises.

    She's Susan Mangicaro. She heads up that effort for the International Medical Corps, a nonprofit group of volunteer doctors and nurses who deliver emergency health carry and other services. She joins us from Orlando via Skype, before she heads to the Bahamas.

    Susan Mangicaro, thank you so much for talking with us.

    First of all, tell us what your organization, in a nutshell, what it does in these situations.

  • Susan Mangicaro:

    Hi. Well, thank you for having us on.

    International Medical Corps provides emergency disaster relief and humanitarian aid across the globe. And in a situation such as we have with Dorian, where a disaster strikes an impacted area, we work cohesively with the government and the affected area and provide and coordinate for medical care to be delivered in the most impacted areas.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, at this point, what do you know about what the need is in the Bahamas?

  • Susan Mangicaro:

    Well, very early stages.

    And there's a bit of a lack of communication at this point in time. However, we do know, as most are aware, the island has been dramatically impacted. Most health care systems are nonfunctioning, with minimal support.

    So, ourselves, as well as several other agencies are coordinating to be sure that we can provide the relief with doctors, nurses and health care supplies in the most impacted areas.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Are you confident at this point that you are going to be able to get into the Bahamas?

  • Susan Mangicaro:

    Yes, we are.

    We are working both with public and private organizations. We have a flight scheduled tomorrow for a six-person team, doctors, myself, medical coordinators, as well as logisticians, to fly into Nassau.

    From there, we will work with the coordinating agencies and the government of the Bahamas, and work to go to the most impacted areas, either by boat or private flights or commercial flights, when available.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    We were just speaking on the "NewsHour" with our correspondent who is in Nassau, who was telling us about the bottleneck there.

    He said there are so many relief agencies, other individuals there who want to get the help, the food and other material they have out, but they just don't have a way to land on places like Abaco because the water is still very high.

  • Susan Mangicaro:

    Yes, absolutely.

    And that's why we work cohesively under the direction of the government both with local and international agencies to coordinate care. Not uncommon initially. This happens often in impacted areas by flood or tornadoes, hurricanes.

    And we coordinate effectively, so that we make sure we're bringing resources as quickly as possible. It often takes a little bit of time to get into the area, as you mentioned, with airports being underwater.

    But, eventually, we are able to coordinate efforts through private and public organizations who donate resources to get us to where we need to be to take care of the people that need the care the most.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, your doctors and nurses will literally be trying to get to individuals in need, whether on Abaco or Grand Bahama Island or somewhere else?

  • Susan Mangicaro:


    Initially, as I mentioned, we will fly into Nassau and determine where the greatest needs are, working in conjunction with the government. And then we will determine by assessment. We have our assessment team going out to see where the greatest needs are, where the greatest impact is, and where we can distribute resources effectively.

    As I mentioned, we have been in contact already with several different agencies that have boats to kind of bring us to the various different islands, and be sure that we're safely bringing our staff, who will be self-sufficient, into regions to take care of those that are impacted.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, just quickly, do you try to set up clinics where you go, or can you just work basically in a very limited set of circumstances?

  • Susan Mangicaro:

    Yes, we can do just about anything.

    We have the ability and we have offered the ability to set up a clinic seeing 100 patients a day that's self-standing. We can set up mobile clinics. We can send small strike teams. We're very flexible, because we're accustomed to doing this.

    This is what we do. We deal with disasters all the time, so we have the flexibility to be totally independent, running a clinic that's self-standing, or have mobile teams go out and try to see and treat patients where they're — where they happen to be in their locations.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Susan Mangicaro with the International Medical Corps, they are planning to go into the Bahamas tomorrow.

    Susan, thank you very much. And good luck with all you're doing.

  • Susan Mangicaro:

    Thank you so much.

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