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ADA, dental societies reach out to dentists in path of summer storms

The ADA and several constituent dental societies are offering disaster relief and assistance for dentists whose practices may have been damaged by Hurricane Gustav.

Though Gustav's aftermath isn't nearly as devastating as that of Hurricane Katrina's in 2005, the assault on the Southeastern United States is expected to continue in tropical storms Hanna, Ike and Josephine.

The ADA has determined there were 332 dental offices in the 12 Louisiana parishes affected by Hurricane Gustav, but in rural Terrebonne Parish, LA, where the hurricane made landfall, the ADA reports just two dental offices within 25 miles of that point.

From Baton Rouge, Louisiana Executive Director Ward Blackwell confirmed the area suffered area-wide power outages but requested members contact the LDA office for assistance or to share news about the storms. Although the office was without power Tuesday, LDA staff is updating the Web site, "www.ladental.org", whenever possible. Louisiana dentists seeking assistance may also contact the ADA via the toll-free number.

The Mississippi Dental Association also kept members informed via its Web site, but knowing Internet access was limited for many, also reached out by telephone.

"We are all here in the office and also ready to assist our members as needed," urged Connie Lane, executive director of the Mississippi Dental Association, in an e-mail to members. "Please make us aware of anything you may be informed of or that you have a concern or question about. Disaster recovery is like piecing a puzzle together and every information piece helps to define the total picture … so along those lines, help us be sure we have all the pieces in regards to our dental community."

As part of its Charitable Assistance Programs, the ADA Foundation has approved grants of up to $2,500 for dental professionals who have been affected by disasters as well as grants for organizations that provide dental services to affected areas.

Dentists and groups can apply for relief through the ADA Foundation Web site.

As Ms. Lane of Mississippi emphasized, "information is key."

"If our association can help our dentists connect the dots and easily access what might be available to help them recover—that is a tremendous help," she said.

The purpose of the ADA Foundation disaster assistance grant program is to provide assistance to members of the dental profession affected by disasters and support emergency dental care in areas affected by disasters.

The ADA, with help from the Florida Dental Association, has a five-step disaster planning and recovery package that offers guides and resources, worksheets and applications.

To access it online, visit www.ada.org/prof/prac/disaster/index.asp.

In 2006, the Florida Dental Association developed a Disaster Preparedness Manual in conjunction with the Florida Dental Health Foundation with support from an ADAF grant. The manual is based on the experiences of dentists who lost or suffered damage to their offices and homes during a disaster and it covers how to prepare the office; what to do if a storm strikes; and describes local, state and national resources that are available.

 To download the manual or for more information, visit www.floridadental.org/foundation/disaster.html.

There is also an Occupational Safety and Health Administration page for employers and employees affected by the hurricanes and tropical storms with links to more than 40 fact sheets and health tips on decontamination and other hazards. The OSHA page may be accessed at www.osha.gov/OshDoc/flood-tornado-recovery.html.

There is also additional information at www.bt.cdc.gov.

The ADA News will continue to provide updates about the storms online and in print. Visit ADA.org daily for more information.