As a member of MD Anderson’s Facilities Management team, Tiffanie Powell schedules and plans construction, renovations and repairs for a dozen buildings on the institution’s campus.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, she’s now dealing with the extensive repairs needed to make her flood-damaged house livable again.
“This wasn’t my first hurricane,” says Powell. “I live in a house on a hill, so I didn’t think anything was going to happen.
Powell and her son prepared anyway. They stocked up on groceries and supplies. They built a fort around their front door with sandbags.
But when Powell walked into her son’s room to wake him on Aug. 26, she stepped into ankle-deep water. She quickly discovered the entire house had flooded.
The two waded through chest-deep water to a neighbor’s home, where they waited several hours to be rescued by boat and evacuated to a shelter.
During the following weeks, Powell relied on co-workers for day-to-day needs like shelter and showers.
Powell is among the estimated 35% of MD Anderson’s workforce that experienced flooding from Hurricane Harvey. To help impacted employees, the cancer center offered support through its Caring Fund, which provides financial assistance to employees who lost their homes or have been temporarily displaced by state or federal government-declared disasters.
Donations from employees, patients and their families, the MD Anderson Cancer Center Board of Visitors (BOV) and Advance Team advisory board, as well as several members of the MD Anderson Cancer Network® – a network of community hospitals and health systems throughout the nation that collaborate with MD Anderson to bring quality cancer care to their communities – brought the fund to over $1 million the flood.
Donations from Cancer Network members came from MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper in Camden, New Jersey, Community Health Network in Indianapolis, DCH Regional Medical Center in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Summit Medical Group MD Anderson Cancer Center in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey. The fund also benefited from sales of MD Anderson Strong T-shirts, which were created to applaud the team spirit shown throughout the cancer center before, during and after the storm.
Powell is grateful for the help.
“To have this source of hope, it really means a lot,” she says. “It touches my heart, and I just want to say thank you.”
Help comes from miles away
More than 160 health care workers from outside the Houston area came to town in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey to supplement MD Anderson’s staff. Their support allowed MD Anderson to quickly return to full operations, and enabled MD Anderson employees affected by the storm to focus on their personal recovery.
About 35% of the cancer center’s 20,000 employees were forced to evacuate their flooded homes or experienced flood damage to their homes.
Doctors, nurses, technicians and support staff arrived from The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center in Phoenix, OhioHealth – an MD Anderson Cancer Network® certified member in Columbus, Ohio, and Northwell Health, a network of health care facilities based in New York.
“We’re focused on meeting the needs of our patients, but also we’re focused on meeting the needs of our staff,” says Carol Porter, D.N.P., senior vice president and chief nursing officer. “Our faculty and staff have been so devoted to MD Anderson, and this external supplemental staff allowed our teams who were affected to take care of themselves, their families and their personal property.”
Additionally, more than 20 police officers from UT Police at Austin, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, UT San Antonio, UT Police at Arlington and UT System Office of the Director of Police were sent to Houston to ensure the safety of patients and employees, and help with rescue vehicle transports.