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The NIH Director

Update on NIH Katrina Response

September 9, 2005

To: All NIH Staff
From: Director, NIH
Subject: Update on NIH Katrina Response, Friday, September 9, 2005

As I said in an e-mail message to you earlier this week, NIH quickly mobilized a team, in collaboration with Duke University, to staff a field hospital in Mississippi, in anticipation of a need to care for victims of Hurricane Katrina. As the situation evolved, however, this facility was not needed, so our staff and the Duke team were called back from Mississippi today. I know you all join me in thanking each individual on the team for their response to the call for help. I am deeply proud of the incredible commitment shown by our highly skilled and dedicated staff members who deployed virtually overnight, of the Duke team members who joined us with such willing enthusiasm, and of our employees in all corners of NIH who made the deployment possible. I also want to thank the Commissioned Corps officers from NIH who remain in the field.

Hurricane Katrina is a unique disaster. Our system has not been tested this way before. The intention of the Department was to build as much capacity as possible, as quickly as possible, and to remain flexible. We are also going to be in recovery for the long term, and we need the talents of the deployed individuals back at NIH.

Our extramural colleagues are receiving support as well. On September 4, the NIH Office of Extramural Research (OER) announced more detailed information about possible NIH actions to assist affected investigators and institutions. This action followed the delay in grant application and submission notice that went out immediately on September 1. The new notice encourages each investigator to contact his or her program officer and grants specialist to discuss how research has been affected. I know that our entire extramural staff will be responsive to these calls or e-mails. As soon as investigators and institutions are able to assess damage to their NIH-supported research programs and communicate with NIH, we will consider requests for administrative supplements for extensions in time that include personnel costs; and for replacement of equipment, supplies, and unique resources damaged or lost as a result of the storm. OER has set up an NIH Grants Hurricane Recovery mailbox, nihghr@nih.gov, and a phone line, 301-435-0949, for additional grantee questions.

The communication offices across campus have been making information available to health workers, medical and counseling professionals, and relief workers about medical, environmental, and emotional repercussions of the hurricane.

Information is flowing through emergency organizations and over the radio to workers and evacuees across the country. We have supported the dissemination of relief and emergency health information for the other agencies of HHS.

Intramural labs are preparing to support some displaced scientists, and NIH staff members have offered to open their homes to these scientists as well. If we need any more volunteers for housing, Dr. Michael Gottesman, Deputy Director for Intramural Research, will send out an all-hands e-mail message.

NIH staff by the hundreds have generously offered help based on their experience in medicine, nursing, emergency management, maintenance, translation, or counseling, or on special experience with the young, the aging, or people in crisis. Many of our staff have served in the military or have volunteered in emergency environments both during hurricanes in the U.S. and in disasters around the world. I am deeply impressed with both the skill and the willingness of so many who have submitted offers to go. We have created a database of skills and offers so that over the months to come, we will be able to let others help. I urge you to find other ways as well to support the evacuees through community or other groups.

I want to once again thank everyone for their responsiveness, spirit of cooperation, and readiness to help those affected by the hurricane disaster. I will continue to update you on NIH actions in the coming days.

Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D.
This page last reviewed on February 14, 2011

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