The Bahamas - Hurricane Dorian Fact Sheet #8, (FY) 2019

September 16, 2019

USG increases support for Hurricane Dorian relief efforts by nearly $11 million

SYG Guterres visits The Bahamas, commends GoB-led response

GoB looks toward recovery, focuses on restoring basic services and infrastructure

Numbers At A Glance

50

Deaths Reported in The Bahamas due to Hurricane Dorian as of September 9

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 $11,496,470
USAID/FFP $1,000,000
DoD $8,490,000
TOTAL $20,986,470

 

Due to the formation and nearby passage of Tropical Storm Humberto, a tropical storm warning was in effect on September 13 and 14 for northwestern islands of The Bahamas, hindering aircraft and vessel movements supporting Hurricane Dorian relief efforts on the worst-affected islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama. Despite the two-day reduction of air and sea operations, relief and storm-preparedness efforts continued on the ground in Abaco, with the USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) collaborating with partners and other organizations to distribute emergency shelter supplies and provide shelter facilities for vulnerable populations. Tropical Storm Humberto moved away from The Bahamas on September 14, causing no further damage to Hurricane Dorian-affected islands.

With the majority of affected populations’ immediate needs met by local and international relief efforts, according to the UN, the Government of The Bahamas (GoB) National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) reports that the response is gradually shifting toward recovery. In line with this, USAID’s urban search-and-rescue (USAR) team demobilized and departed The Bahamas on September 14. During the ten-day deployment, the team searched and conducted structural assessments of more than 1,000 houses and buildings across Abaco and surrounding cays.

To date, international donors have provided an estimated $26 million toward Hurricane Dorian relief and recovery efforts in The Bahamas. Of this, the U.S. Government (USG) has provided approximately $21 million, including $8.5 million from DoD for logistics and transportation support and $12.5 million from USAID for multi-sector relief activities.

As of September 15, the majority of storm-affected populations had received humanitarian assistance, including relief commodities and access to basic services, to meet immediate needs, the UN reports. Accordingly, the GoB-led response has shifted away from the immediate relief phase—centered on first aid, search and recovery, and rapid damage and needs assessments—to focus primarily on ensuring access to appropriate shelter for displaced populations, debris removal operations, and the restoration of communications, electricity, and water systems, particularly in isolated areas of Abaco. To this end, the USG and other relief actors continue to augment GoB capacity to effectively prioritize needs and coordinate efforts by the more than 50 organizations involved in the response. On September 16, USAID deployed an incident management team (IMT) to join the DART in The Bahamas, which will provide coordination support for the NEMA-led emergency operations center (EOC) in Abaco’s Marsh Harbour town over the next two weeks. The USAID IMT complements a separate incident management assistance team from the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) that continues to support to the EOC in the capital city of Nassau, as well as DART specialists providing technical guidance on health, shelter, and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) for NEMA and other relevant GoB entities.

Amid the shift from immediate response to recovery-focused efforts, the USAID-deployed USAR team demobilized and departed The Bahamas on September 14. During the September 4–14 deployment, the team searched more than 1,000 structures—including bridges, health clinics, houses, schools, and other infrastructure—in Abaco and surrounding cays to assess damage and suitability for return. The USAR team found approximately 60 percent of assessed structures to be severely or completely damaged, while approximately 27 percent were classified as moderately damaged and 10 percent had slight or no damage. Overall, satellite-based damage assessments indicate that Hurricane Dorian destroyed approximately 2,700 buildings and damaged 4,600 buildings across Abaco and Grand Bahama, according to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

During a September 13–14 visit to The Bahamas, UN Secretary-General (SYG) António Guterres met with Prime Minister of The Bahamas Hubert Minnis, as well as displaced individuals residing in collective shelters in Nassau, to discuss humanitarian needs and challenges. SYG Guterres then travelled to Abaco to survey storm damage and discuss relief operations with actors on the ground, including the DART. In a September 14 statement regarding his visit, SYG Guterres commended the GoB-led response and rapid mobilization of support from the international community, while urging for greater investments in initiatives to build resilience for future climate-related disasters.

As of September 15, nearly 2,000 individuals were residing in 10 collective shelters established by the GoB in New Providence Island, where Nassau is located, and nearly 70 people were residing in two collective shelters in Grand Bahama, NEMA reports. The GoB has also established a shelter each on Abaco and North Eleuthera islands, though the populations residing in these shelters remained at ten people or fewer as of September 15.

To enable debris removal, the GoB Ministry of Housing and Environment (MoHE) issued a six-month prohibition on September 15 against residential or commercial construction in central Abaco’s Farm Road, Pigeon Pea, Sand Bank, and Mudd communities, where an estimated 1,000 houses suffered near total destruction from Hurricane Dorian. Moreover, the MoHE underscored the GoB’s intention to provide temporary accommodation for residents of these areas in alternative, safe locations of Abaco.

Due to the formation and nearby movement of Tropical Storm Humberto, a tropical storm warning was in effect for northwestern islands of The Bahamas, including Abaco and Grand Bahama, on September 13 and 14. In preparation for the potential heavy rainfall and strong winds in Abaco, the DART collaborated with partners and other organizations to distribute emergency shelter materials—including USAID plastic sheeting and shelter fixing kits—to vulnerable populations on the island and to organize hard structure shelters for those with compromised houses. While rainfall on Abaco due to the tropical storm did not reach anticipated levels, relief actors continue to prepare for further storm risks amid the June–November Atlantic hurricane season.

On September 14, United Parcel Service (UPS) airlifted more than 6 metric tons (MT) of USAID supplies—including 5,000 household water buckets; 5,000 hygiene kits; and four 10,000-liter water bladders to provide storage for safe drinking water—from the USAID warehouse in Miami to Nassau; in total, the UPS flight transported approximately 50 MT of supplies on behalf of several relief organizations operational in The Bahamas. The DART is coordinating with NEMA to transport the supplies onward to affected communities in Abaco and Grand Bahama, as well as displaced populations in New Providence. Overall, USAID has provided approximately 53 MT of relief commodities—sufficient to support an estimated 54,000 people—from the USAID Miami warehouse to Nassau utilizing the donated UPS flight, a chartered commercial flight, and USCG Cutters to transport the supplies.

Additionally, UNICEF has provided approximately 1,000 household water containers; 400,000 water disinfection tablets; and six 5,000-liter water bladders to support access to safe drinking water in affected areas; Mercy Corps began distributing the UNICEF-supported supplies in Grand Bahama’s Freeport city on September 12.

DoD continues to support USAID and the GoB with transportation and logistics support. As of September 15, U.S. military aircraft had transported approximately 140 MT of relief supplies and search equipment, along with approximately 370 response personnel—including staff from the GoB, the DART, non-governmental organizations, and UN agencies—on approximately 120 flights.

With USAID/OFDA funding, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) continues to support the GoB Ministry of Health (MoH) respond to health care needs following Hurricane Dorian. The MoH and PAHO are working to strengthen epidemiological surveillance and outbreak early warning systems, particularly for water- and vector-borne diseases, in health facilities on storm-affected islands. In collective centers hosting displaced populations, the MoH is conducting daily health surveillance visits and has established health screenings for all incoming evacuees, while the MoHE is supporting food safety and waste management measures in the shelters. Additionally, PAHO is providing support to streamline the movement of incoming health and medical supplies to Nassau for swift distribution to populations across affected islands.

In coordination with the MoH, seven emergency medical teams (EMTs)—groups of health professionals that meet internationally recognized standards to respond to foreign disasters or emergencies—continue to bolster health capacity in Abaco, Grand Bahama, and New Providence. In Grand Bahama, an International Medical Corps EMT is operational in eastern Grand Bahama and Freeport, while a field hospital established by the Samaritan’s Purse EMT in Freeport continues to augment capacity near the city’s Rand Memorial Hospital, which sustained damage to supplies and equipment during to Hurricane Dorian. In Abaco and surrounding cays, EMTs from Heart to Heart International, Humanity First, and Team Rubicon are supporting health care services across affected areas. Additionally, the NYC Medics EMT is providing support to evacuees in North Eleuthera.

UNICEF is working with the GoB Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development to support the identification and provision of services to displaced children living among host communities, as well as to identify and address child protection risks for storm-affected children that remain in Abaco and Grand Bahama. The UN agency is also facilitating training sessions for school counselors, social workers, and teachers on the delivery of psychosocial support and recreational activities for displaced and other storm-affected children. Additionally, the GoB, with support from UNICEF, commenced registration of approximately 10,000 displaced school-aged children on September 12 to enroll the students in schools not affected by Hurricane Dorian; the registration process will also support displaced students to access counseling services, medical screenings, recreational activities, and financial support for lunch, transportation, and uniforms. The UN agency reports approximately $3.8 million in financial requirements to respond to identified child protection, education, and WASH needs in the coming four months.

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: September 17, 2019

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