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In a large tent with desks and chairs, health care professionals walk and sit with clients.
Figure 32.1 Health care providers treat clients in a temporary shelter and two trailers following the destruction of their health care facility by Hurricane Maria. (credit: modification of work by Preston Keres/USDA/Flickr, Public Domain)

Community hospitals and health care centers near coastlines stay on alert for hurricanes and storm surges during the active hurricane season. One year, hospital administrators along the Gulf Coast are particularly concerned, as experts have forecasted nine hurricanes, five of which are expected to be major storms. The hospital has several outlying facilities, and the administrators have invited Beverly, a community health nurse, to their annual review and update of the disaster plan. The community has experienced rapid growth in retirees and culturally diverse groups of residents, and they are relying on Beverly’s expertise in the community to help predict the needs of people in the event of a catastrophic storm. Beverly has conducted a community assessment and is presenting the current state of the population and the potential risk factors that could impact them if the area sustained a direct hit from a hurricane.

Nurses like Beverly play a valuable role in disaster preparedness in the community. They are familiar with the community’s demographics and available resources, making them an essential part of the preparedness team. This chapter will discuss the types of disasters that require disaster response, the disaster response cycle, and the nurse’s role in disaster response.

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