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Hurricane Katrina

Heroic Hospitality

November 2005

by Natalie Gutierrez

"… Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses … Send these, the homeless … to me, …"

- from The New Colossus, Emma Lazarus

These words, etched on the base of the Statue of Liberty in the New York City harbor, serve as a reminder of the welcoming spirit that characterizes the United States.

In the spirit of tradition, San Antonio embraced thousands left displaced and homeless by the deadly storm that ravaged Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama in August. Within just a few days, Hurricane Katrina may have forced one of the largest human dislocations in this country in more than 100 years.

As thousands of hurricane survivors began to arrive in San Antonio, Health Science Center physicians, nurses, dentists, allied health professionals and students raced to respond to the cry for desperately needed health care at shelters across the city, and joined forces with disaster relief agencies to offer assistance. When Hurricane Rita made landfall a few weeks later along the Texas/Louisiana coastline, Health Science Center forces were ready once again to assist the thousands of evacuees who made their way to San Antonio. More than 200 Health Science Center families also responded by making their homes available to their University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston colleagues and other evacuees from Houston and Galveston.

"The Health Science Center is pleased to be a part of a community that opened its hands and hearts to help the hurricane survivors. I am so proud of our faculty, staff and students who worked around the clock in a unified and selfless effort to help those in need. This is true heroism and health care at its very best."

- Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., President

Stepping up, standing out

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (left) supports Harold L. Timboe, major general, U.S. Army (Ret.), M.D., M.P.H., assistant vice president for research administration and initiatives at the Health Science Center, as he explains how members of the Texas Medical Rangers were providing relief efforts to hurricane survivors at KellyUSA. Dr. Timboe, who also is a Health Science Center alumnus, established the Texas Medical Rangers, the first Medical Reserve Corps/State Guard unit in the nation, at the Health Science Center in 2003. The Medical Rangers respond to Texas public health emergencies and had over 150 members statewide involved in helping at more than 20 shelters. Dr. Timboe continues to serve as a volunteer leader with the Medical Rangers.

  Dr. Timboe with Gov. Perry
Gov. Perry (left) supports Dr. Timboe
"San Antonio received the largest number of critically ill evacuees after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. I saw patients who ranged in age from 8 days old to 95 years old. Health Science Center representatives worked countless hours together with representatives from area health care organizations and volunteers. Patients were quickly and safely transferred to area hospitals where they received the care they desperately needed. I was proud to be a part of such a coordinated effort. We learned a great deal from this disaster that we will pass on to future health care professionals."

- Charles Bauer, M.D.
Professor of surgery and director of the Center for Public Health Preparedness and Biomedical Research

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Updated 12/11/14