The Bahamas - Hurricane Dorian Fact Sheet #12, (FY) 2019

September 30, 2019

USAID provides additional $7.5 million to Hurricane Dorian response for health, shelter, and WASH activities

USAID partner IOM scales up early recovery shelter assistance

Relief actors continue to fulfill health, protection, and WASH needs

Numbers At A Glance

58

Deaths Reported in The Bahamas due to Hurricane Dorian as of September 30

54,000

Number of People Supported by USAID In-Kind Commodities

17,200

Estimated Population of Abaco

51,000

Estimated Population of Grand Bahama

 

Humanitarian Funding

FOR THE BAHAMAS HURRICANE RESPONSE IN FY 2019

USAID/OFDA $24,304,837
USAID/FFP $1,000,000
DoD $8,490,000
TOTAL $33,794,837

 

USAID recently contributed $7.5 million to Samaritan’s Purse to support health, shelter, and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) projects in The Bahamas’ Abaco and Grand Bahama islands, which experienced widespread destruction due to Hurricane Dorian. Samaritan’s Purse established a field hospital in Grand Bahama and is delivering critical health services to more than 100 patients daily, as well as providing access to safe drinking water for affected populations on the islands.

To date, USAID has provided more than $25 million to the Hurricane Dorian response, bringing the total U.S. Government (USG) contribution to nearly $34 million. The USG remains the largest humanitarian donor to the response.

One month after Hurricane Dorian, the Government of The Bahamas (GoB) and humanitarian partners continue to address affected populations’ basic needs, while also prioritizing strategies for economic and social recovery. As organizations are completing emergency activities, some relief actors are departing the country and transitioning operations to organizations focused on early recovery and reconstruction.

As debris removal activities progress, the GoB and other relief actors continue efforts to confirm numbers of victims and individuals displaced by the storm. On September 30, the Royal Bahamian Police Force announced the death toll had risen to 58, with 49 deaths recorded in Abaco and nine in Grand Bahama, due to ongoing victim identification and recovery work. Meanwhile, the GoB National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) announced that nearly 700 of the more than 1,300 people reported missing to a GoB missing persons registry were identified and located by September 25.

Prime Minister (PM) of The Bahamas Hubert Minnis addressed the UN General Assembly on September 27, where he expressed gratitude to the international community for mobilizing humanitarian response efforts in the wake of Hurricane Dorian.

The GoB continues to conduct daily assessments of damage to infrastructure, residences, and critical service systems, including testing water samples and subsequently spreading public messages to inform populations in Abaco and Grand Bahama of varying levels of water quality. The Ministry of Public Works is conducting long-term infrastructure and damage assessments in storm-affected areas of Abaco and Grand Bahama, with support from the UN Development Program (UNDP). As of September 27, approximately 50 percent of assessed buildings in Abaco and 16 percent of assessed buildings in Grand Bahama were deemed unsalvageable, although the government agency noted that thousands of buildings were still in need of assessments.

Bahamas Power and Light Company (BPLC) restored power to southern Abaco’s Casuarina Point and Winding Bay communities by September 30, marking the first populations in the area to gain sustained access to electricity since the storm. The BPLC is also working to restore consistent power to all critical infrastructure in Abaco’s Marsh Harbour town, including a government complex, a Water and Sewerage Corporation (WSC) plant, and the Marsh Harbour Clinic, which have been relying on temporary power generation to date.

On September 26, Aliv, one of The Bahamas’ main telecommunications providers, completed restoration of all mobile towers in Abaco and eastern Grand Bahama, which were damaged by Hurricane Dorian. The company is coordinating with the Bahamas Telecommunications Company—which had restored approximately 20 percent and 40 percent of mobile network coverage in Abaco and Grand Bahama, respectively, as of September 25—to provide long-term telecommunications solutions for all affected populations. To fill existing gaps in affected areas, the non-governmental organization (NGO) NetHope had installed more than 32 emergency telecommunications networks at distribution points for relief commodities and food assistance, government facilities, health facilities, and shelters as of September 26. NetHope plans to continue operations in The Bahamas over the next two to three months to support the full restoration of power and telecommunication services, particularly as the GoB facilitates the transition of displaced populations back to areas of origin in Abaco and Grand Bahama.

On September 25, NEMA announced that 692 people previously reported as missing following Hurricane Dorian had been identified and located due to the efforts of the GoB Department of Social Services (DSS) and other relief actors, including the USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART), who are cross-checking the missing persons registry against collective shelter lists and other records of displaced individuals; 608 people remained reported missing as of September 25.

The number of displaced people in GoB-led collective shelters continues to decline, with nearly 1,550 people in six New Providence Island shelters as of September 30 and approximately 50 people in two Grand Bahama shelters as of September 25. Two churches and a community center functioning as collective shelters are scheduled to close during the week of September 30, enabling the facilities to resume normal operations; approximately 200 occupants will move to the largest collective shelter, Sir Kendall Issacs Gym, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) reports. Additionally, more than 3,400 people who registered as evacuees with the DSS were residing in alternative accommodations—including sheltering with relatives and friends, renting apartments, or staying in hotels and condominiums supported by private sector actors—in New Providence as of September 26. Relief actors continue efforts to determine exact quantity of displaced individuals in New Providence and returnees to storm-affected islands, and the DSS is conducting door-to-door demographic data collection, property inspections, and needs assessments of individuals remaining in damaged houses in Abaco and Grand Bahama.

With USAID support, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is scaling up efforts to provide shelter assistance during the early recovery phase of the response, as it remains a priority need for storm-affected populations. While displaced populations remain in collective shelters, which are not equipped for prolonged habitation, the IOM is supporting the GoB in camp management and coordination, and plans to provide additional relief commodities, including non-food items and WASH supplies, to the shelters as needed. In anticipation of households returning to areas of origin, IOM plans to assist the GoB with debris and rubble removal operations in Abaco and Grand Bahama through partnering with local contractors and, where necessary, employing a cash-for-work approach. IOM also plans to provide tools and necessary training for households returning to areas of origin to facilitate small-scale reconstruction and rebuilding efforts.

IOM continues to collect data through a second round of its USAID-supported Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) exercise, which aims to identify, register, and monitor displaced households and assess living conditions and vulnerabilities among displaced populations. During the first DTM round in mid-September, IOM highlighted the need for psychosocial support and funding for long-term rental options, particularly for those without livelihood opportunities. Additionally, IOM participated in a September 18 inter-agency rapid shelter assessment in Abaco, which identified the lack of labor and basic services, including education, banking, and security, necessary to facilitate returns. IOM and other relief actors continue to work closely with the GoB to flesh out plans to develop temporary housing units in Abaco.

As the health sector in affected areas of The Bahamas recovers, relief actors continue to supplement GoB Ministry of Health (MoH) capacity to meet health care needs of storm-affected populations, including mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS), which the MoH has identified as a priority. The MoH has established a 24-hour hotline for individuals seeking MHPSS services, and USAID/OFDA partner PAHO continues to coordinate efforts to establish a MHPSS referral pathway for communities in need.

PAHO is also supporting the MoH to strengthen epidemiological surveillance and outbreak early warning systems, particularly for water- and vector-borne diseases. PAHO delivered vector surveillance supplies to Abaco and Grand Bahama on September 25, and the UN agency contributed to a GoB Department of Environmental Health Services operational vector surveillance and control plan for the upcoming four months.

Four of the seven emergency medical teams (EMTs)—groups of health professionals that meet internationally recognized standards to respond to foreign disasters or emergencies—initially deployed to The Bahamas remained active as of September 26, including two mobile EMTs providing outpatient services and MHPSS in Abaco and New Providence collective shelters. In Grand Bahama, a USAID-supported International Medical Corps (IMC) EMT is expanding MHPSS services, and has treated more than 420 patients from September 9 to 30. Finally, USAID partner Samaritan’s Purse is operating an EMT field hospital with surgical capacity in Grand Bahama’s Freeport city, which provided approximately 2,300 outpatient consultations and performed more than 50 surgeries from September 8 to 27.

In addition to the EMTs, other relief partners continue to provide critical health services in The Bahamas. Medical professionals from Project HOPE are providing services at three collective shelters in The Bahamas’ capital city of Nassau, including health screenings for children enrolling in local schools, and in Abaco’s Marsh Harbour Clinic, including pharmacy supply chain management and WASH interventions. The NGO is also facilitating the provision of three interagency emergency health kits, which contain medicines and medical supplies sufficient to meet the needs of 30,000 people over three months. Project HOPE plans to maintain staff presence in affected areas of The Bahamas through late November.

As of September 24, UN Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) had provided more than 300 school-aged children residing in collective shelters in Nassau with MHPSS services. Additionally, the UN agency collaborated with the GoB Ministry of Education and NGO IsraAID to train nearly 70 school counsellors and school psychologists on MHPSS in schools. UNICEF is also addressing hurricane-related child protection concerns for displaced and host communities with the DSS.

UNICEF continues to support the WSC to lead coordination of relief actors conducting WASH activities, including Mercy Corps and Mission Resolve Foundation. The relief organizations installed two reverse osmosis water treatment units that provide 7,500 gallons of safe drinking water daily to health clinics and public tap systems in Grand Bahama. Additionally, Mercy Corps is utilizing UNICEF-provided WASH supplies, including 1,000 jerry cans, six 5,000-liter water tanks, and 100 water disinfection tablets, to benefit approximately 5,000 people in Grand Bahama.

With USAID support, Samaritan’s Purse installed reverse osmosis units in Abaco’s Cooper’s Town and Treasure Cay, each with capacity to produce 2,500 gallons of safe drinking water per day. The NGO is also supporting WSC with fuel distribution to enable functioning of water pumping systems across the island. As of September 25, only 10 percent of Abaco’s population had access to piped water, while the remaining population continued to rely on partner-provided safe drinking water. Samaritan’s Purse is also providing WASH services in Grand Bahama, where 75 percent of the population had access to piped water by September 25.

The UN World Food Program (WFP) continues to lead food security coordination efforts, ensuring that immediate food needs of affected populations are met daily by organizations providing food assistance. As of September 30, NGOs and UN agencies had reportedly delivered nearly 350,000 meals in Abaco, Grand Bahama, and New Providence, according to the UN; the figure does not capture the amount of food assistance provided by the GoB or private sector actors, which also continue to address daily food needs.

With USAID funding, WFP has provided significant logistics support for humanitarian and early recovery operations. As of September 23, four WFP-chartered vessels transported more than 214 metric tons of relief commodities, including construction materials, food assistance, medical supplies, and safe drinking water, from Nassau to hurricane-affected islands. The UN agency continues to provide warehouse management and supply chain coordination in four mobile storage facilities at the Marsh Harbour port and two at the Marsh Harbour International Airport; two additional mobile storage facilities remain on stand-by in Grand Bahama.

Debris removal and waste management remain priorities for the GoB during the early recovery phase of the Hurricane Dorian response. The GoB Ministry of Environment and Housing recently produced a comprehensive debris management plan which provides a framework for organizing the rapid, safe, and cost effective removal, recycling, and disposal of disaster-generated debris, while minimizing debris-related threats to public health and safety, the environment, and economic recovery of affected areas.

Relief actors are also focused on assessing the storm’s economic impact and effects on people’s livelihoods. The GoB, with assistance from the UN Food and Agricultural Organization, continues to assess the damage Hurricane Dorian caused to the agricultural, fishing, and tourism sectors, which comprise the main economic industries in Abaco and Grand Bahama. The BRCS is also conducting livelihoods recovery needs assessments to inform early interventions; preliminary results indicate severe disruption of income-generating opportunities and activities for populations affected by Hurricane Dorian, as productive assets such as crops, agricultural and fishing equipment, and business commodities and infrastructure have been damaged or destroyed in parts of Abaco and Grand Bahama.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) initiated preparation for multi-purpose cash assistance to help households meet basic needs in New Providence, where most Hurricane Dorian evacuees are currently residing. As of September 27, IFRC and the Bahamas Red Cross Society (BRCS), in coordination with the GoB Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development, had begun efforts to identify, verify, and register beneficiaries who qualify for cash assistance. Additionally, IFRC is deploying a Recovery Assessment Team to assist the GoB with implementing comprehensive early recovery strategies in economic and social development, information management, and shelter and reconstruction.

On September 27, UNDP announced a $1 million contribution for early recovery interventions in The Bahamas. UNDP aims to promote environmentally sustainable disaster resilient infrastructure, develop national and local capacities for disaster risk reduction and recovery, and support livelihoods and economic recovery for vulnerable communities.

From September 1 to 2, Hurricane Dorian made landfall over Abaco and Grand Bahama as a Category 5 storm on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, bringing sustained winds of approximately 180 miles per hour, heavy rains, and storm surges of up to 23 feet to the islands.

As a result of widespread flooding and destruction to infrastructure caused by Hurricane Dorian, U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Stephanie Bowers declared a disaster in The Bahamas on September 2. In response, USAID/OFDA provided an initial $200,000 to The Bahamas Red Cross Society and rapidly activated a DART and Response Management Team (RMT). USAID/OFDA is also coordinating with the USCG, part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; the U.S. Department of Defense; and the GoB to swiftly deliver emergency relief items to populations in The Bahamas most severely affected by the hurricane.

The most effective way people can assist relief efforts is by making cash contributions to humanitarian organizations that are conducting relief operations. A list of humanitarian organizations that are accepting cash donations for disaster responses around the world can be found at www.interaction.org.

USAID encourages cash donations because they allow aid professionals to procure the exact items needed (often in the affected region); reduce the burden on scarce resources (such as transportation routes, staff time, and warehouse space); can be transferred very quickly and without transportation costs; support the economy of the disaster-stricken region; and ensure culturally, dietarily, and environmentally appropriate assistance.

More information can be found at: USAID Center for International Disaster Information: www.cidi.org/hurricane-dorian/ or +1.202.661.7710. Information on relief activities of the humanitarian community can be found at http://www.reliefweb.int.

Last updated: October 02, 2019

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