Caribbean Hurricanes - Fact Sheet #2

September 08, 2017

Hurricane Irma remains a significant threat to The Bahamas, while Hurricane Jose may exacerbate the situation on the island of Barbuda, which sustained widespread damage from the passage of Hurricane Irma.

USAID/OFDA is providing $200,000 to address hurricane-related needs in Antigua and Barbuda and The Bahamas.

Assessments of hurricane-affected areas of Hispaniola have commenced, with initial reports suggesting less damage than expected.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) anticipates that Hurricane Irma will affect The Bahamas through September 9 as the storm continues tracking northwestward across the northern Caribbean. The storm is bringing sustained winds of nearly 160 miles per hour (mph), storm surge of up to 20 feet, and 10–15 inches of rain to The Bahamas, according to NHC forecasts.

Hurricane Irma had passed north of Hispaniola as of September 8, and initial reports indicate some localized flooding along the northern coast of Haiti, although overall damage appears less than expected given the intensity of the hurricane. The Government of Haiti and humanitarian organizations have commenced damage assessments of storm-affected areas.

On September 9, Hurricane Jose is expected to pass over or near the island of Barbuda with winds up to 175 mph, which may exacerbate the humanitarian effects of Hurricane Irma. The Government of Antigua and Barbuda (GoAB) began the evacuation of Barbuda on September 7, and the GoAB and the Antigua and Barbuda Red Cross Society are working to relocate all residents from Barbuda to Antigua by the evening of September 8, the regional USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) reports.

USAID/OFDA is providing assistance in response to hurricane-related humanitarian needs, with an initial $200,000 in FY 2017 funding committed, and plans to airlift relief commodities from its warehouses as soon as weather conditions permit. The regional DART maintains staff in The Bahamas, Barbados, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti; the Washington, D.C.-based Response Management Team (RMT) also remains activated.

Numbers At A Glance

155 mph

Sustained Wind Speed of Hurricane Irma

Up to 20 feet

Potential Storm Surge in The Bahamas from Hurricane Irma

Up to 20 inches

Anticipated Rainfall in Isolated Areas of The Bahamas from Hurricane Irma

150 mph

Sustained Wind Speed of Hurricane Jose

2–4 feet

Potential Storm Surge in the Leeward Islands from Hurricane Jose

Humanitarian Funding

For the Caribbean Hurricanes in FY 2017

USAID/OFDA $200,000

On September 7, U.S. Ambassador to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Linda S. Taglialatela issued a disaster declaration for Antigua and Barbuda due to the impacts of Hurricane Irma and the potential effects of Hurricane Jose on the country. In response, USAID/OFDA is providing $100,000 to the Antigua and Barbuda Red Cross Society for the local procurement and distribution of essential relief items, such as mattresses, hygiene kits, and clean-up kits. USAID is closely coordinating its response with other U.S. Government (USG) entities, the GoAB, and relief organizations.

U.S. Chargé d’Affaires, a.i., Lisa A. Johnson issued a disaster declaration on September 6 due to the anticipated effects of Hurricane Irma in The Bahamas. In response, USAID/OFDA is providing an initial $100,000 to the Bahamas Red Cross Society to address the potential need of hurricane-affected populations for emergency relief items.

Currently, several locally based disaster specialists contracted by USAID/OFDA are in The Bahamas and available to liaise with local officials and to help assess damages and needs. To complement the personnel already on the ground, the DART is preparing to shift additional staff into The Bahamas as soon as weather conditions permit. USAID continues to coordinate relief efforts with the Government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, USG interagency partners, and other stakeholders.

As of September 8, more than 10,700 people were sheltering in approximately 190 shelters throughout the country, according to the UN and the Government of the Dominican Republic. In addition, the passage of Hurricane Irma had destroyed more than 110 houses and damaged approximately 2,680 residences.

DART staff in the capital city of Santo Domingo report that the humanitarian situation in the Dominican Republic appears better than expected and that the government has begun post-storm clean-up efforts.

DART staff from USAID/OFDA and USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (USAID/FFP) in the capital of Port-au-Prince note that Hurricane Irma caused less damage than anticipated, with some localized flooding reported in the north of Haiti, particularly in the northeast. Over the coming days, DART staff plan to visit affected areas to assess the situation. The DART remains in close communication with national emergency officials, other donors, UN agencies, and relief actors in Haiti.

USAID partners the UN World Food Program (WFP) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) are deploying staff to conduct assessments of hurricane-affected areas and plan to collaborate on the distribution of food and non-food relief items. IOM is working with national- and departmental-level emergency operation centers to organize relief-item provision for temporarily displaced families residing in shelters. As of September 6, WFP had pre-positioned sufficient food commodities, including cereals, beans, and vegetable oil, to meet the immediate food needs of up to 80,000 people in northern Haiti.

USAID/FFP remains prepared to assist hurricane-affected households across Haiti and the broader Caribbean region with emergency food assistance as needed and requested by affected countries.

The DART and RMT are closely tracking the effects of Hurricanes Irma and Jose, as well as Hurricane Katia, which is forecast to make landfall over the eastern coast of Mexico in the overnight hours between September 8 and 9. USAID staff plan to remain in contact with government officials and other stakeholders in countries throughout the Caribbean to coordinate on efforts to address needs caused by the hurricanes’ actual and potential impacts.

In addition to staff in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, USAID/OFDA has pre-positioned a three-person team in Barbados. USAID/OFDA has also activated disaster risk management specialists and surge capacity consultants in Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, and St. Kitts and Nevis. Additional local surge staff located throughout the Caribbean region are on standby should storm impacts warrant their activation.

Hurricane Irma—the strongest Atlantic hurricane on record—began affecting the eastern Caribbean in early September. On September 6, the hurricane made landfall over the island of Barbuda in the northeastern Caribbean before passing near The Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti. The hurricane brought destructive winds, heavy rainfall, and dangerous storm surge, resulting in one fatality and destroying an estimated 90 percent of structures on Barbuda.

On September 6, U.S. Chargé d’Affaires, a.i., Lisa A. Johnson issued a disaster declaration in response to the anticipated effects of Hurricane Irma in The Bahamas, and on September 7, U.S. Ambassador to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Linda S. Taglialatela issued a disaster declaration in response to Hurricane Irma and the anticipated effects of Hurricane Jose in Antigua and Barbuda. In response, USAID/OFDA is contributing an initial $100,000 each to the Bahamas Red Cross Society and the Antigua and Barbuda Red Cross Society.

On September 7, USAID activated a regional DART with staff in The Bahamas, Barbados, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti. USAID also stood up a Washington, D.C.-based RMT to coordinate the USG’s humanitarian response to the hurricanes.

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, dietary, and environmentally appropriate assistance.

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

Last updated: September 12, 2017

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