Caribbean Hurricanes - Fact Sheet #3 FY18

Octber 11, 2017

  • UN Secretary-General’s visit to Caribbean region underscores widespread hurricane damage.
  • DART successfully concludes operations, shifts to regional team for transition efforts.
  • USAID/OFDA relief commodities benefit an estimated 70,500 hurricane-affected people.

Numbers At A Glance

25

Reported Fatalities in the Caribbean Region due to Hurricane Irma

Up to 265,000

People in the Caribbean Region Affected by Hurricane Irma

27

Reported Fatalities in Dominica due to Hurricane Maria

71,293

People on Dominica Affected by Hurricane Maria

162

Metric Tons of USAID/OFDA Relief Items Airlifted to Five Hurricane-Affected Countries

Humanitarian Funding

For the Caribbean Hurricanes Response in FY 2017

USAID/OFDA $2,285,742
DoD $12,800,000
Total $15,085,742

Humanitarian conditions in Dominica continue to improve. The Government of the Commonwealth of Dominica (GoCD) is prioritizing distributions of food, shelter assistance, and safe drinking water to meet the needs of hurricane-affected people. To improve access and facilitate recovery and reconstruction activities, including the restoration of water supply networks, the GoCD and international stakeholders have also prioritized the removal of storm debris. On October 7, Prime Minister of Dominica Roosevelt Skerrit announced that, to facilitate the post-storm reconstruction process, the GoCD plans to waive taxes and duties on all food and construction material imports for six months.

The USAID Caribbean Hurricanes Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) successfully concluded field operations in the region on October 9. As the humanitarian situation in Dominica and other affected Caribbean nations has improved, USAID has shifted focus to early recovery activities, while continuing to monitor humanitarian needs. A field based USAID regional team, including three USAID/OFDA disaster risk management specialists supporting response coordination at Dominica’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC), will remain in Dominica.

In the aftermath of destructive hurricanes Irma and Maria, USAID/OFDA has led the U.S. Government (USG) international humanitarian response in the Caribbean region. Since early September, the USG has provided more than $15 million in humanitarian assistance to Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Dominica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint-Martin, and Sint Maarten. Since the initiation of DART activities on September 7, USAID has provided more than 162 metric tons (MT) of relief commodities, including hygiene kits, kitchen sets, and rolls of plastic sheeting, benefiting an estimated 70,500 hurricane-affected people in the region.

On October 9, the DART successfully concluded operations in response to hurricanes Irma and Maria. At the height of the response, the DART comprised 54 members, including food security monitors, logisticians, technical advisors, and other critical humanitarian personnel, based in 11 countries. USAID-provided support, including the provision of transitional shelter assistance and safe drinking water, which benefited an estimated 70,500 people. In coordination with the DART, DoD’s Joint Task Force-Leeward Islands delivered 155 MT of relief commodities, particularly to communities left isolated by the effects of the hurricanes, and provided eight desalination units to Saint-Martin that produced more than 83,000 gallons of safe drinking water—sufficient to meet the daily needs of at least 21,000 people.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ visit to Dominica and Antigua and Barbuda on October 7–8 in the wake of hurricanes Irma and Maria underscored the widespread devastation caused by the storms. During the visit, Secretary-General Guterres assessed storm damage and observed a distribution of humanitarian relief commodities, including approximately 160 kitchen sets and 100 hygiene kits provided by USAID/OFDA. DART staff also attended a briefing with Secretary-General Guterres and other members of the international community operating in Dominica. The Dominica Flash Appeal, which requests $31.1 million to support relief and early recovery activities for three months, was 3 percent funded as of October 11. In addition, international donors have provided $4 million, or approximately 15 percent of the $27.1 million request, toward the Hurricane Irma Regional Response Plan for the Caribbean Region.

On October 6, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) held its final coordination meeting in response to hurricanes Irma and Maria. In collaboration with humanitarian partners, CDEMA plans to conduct a post-disaster needs assessment and a response review with the participation of response stakeholders. Based on the results of the needs assessment, CDEMA plans to coordinate with local governments and regional and international donors to prepare proposals for reconstruction and recovery projects.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reports that more than 2,700 people continue to shelter in 100 collective centers in Dominica; however, IOM cautions that not all collective centers have been assessed and that an unknown number of displaced Dominicans continue to live with host-community members as a result of widespread damage to homes.

The GoCD has prioritized the provision of shelter assistance to health facilities, homes for older people, and other vulnerable populations, as well as for the homes of people sheltering in collective centers to facilitate returns and reopen schools, which are often used as collective centers.

CDEMA recently assessed 500 houses in Dominica's Kalinago territory, with preliminary results indicating that Hurricane Maria severely damaged or totally destroyed more than 75 percent of the assessed houses. In response, CDEMA is considering options to support 1,000 of the most vulnerable households in Kalinago through a private donation of 100,000 MT of roofing material.

On October 3, the DART delivered 160 plastic sheets and 100 blankets to GoCD government officials for onward distribution to affected populations. On October 5, the DART delivered an additional 150 rolls of plastic sheeting, as well as water containers, to support storm-affected Dominicans.

As of early October, water supply networks in Dominica continue to undergo repairs, while at least 10 water networks, including in parts of the capital city of Roseau, are functional, the UN reports. However, local authorities in Roseau have cautioned residents that the water, though treated, is not yet safe to drink due to hurricane-related breaks in pipes. Relief actors anticipate that the restoration of the piped water supply in Roseau will allow trucks to provide more water to other areas of the country. An assessment of 36 of the 44 water supply systems across the country is pending, CDEMA reports.

Roseau’s sewage network sustained damage during the hurricane, resulting in untreated sewage spills in several areas and exposing residents to health risks, according to the UN. A rapid assessment by Dominica Water and Sewerage Company Limited (DOWASCO), a DART technical advisor, and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) revealed that significant technical and financial resources are required to ensure the future viability of the sewage system.

As of October 8, USAID/OFDA partner Samaritan’s Purse had installed four water filtration and chlorination units in Dominica, with two located in St. Paul Parish’s Mahaut village, one in St. Joseph Parish’s Coulibistre village, and one in St. Peter Parish’s Colihaut village. Each filtration and chlorination unit produces approximately 5,600 gallons of water per day, providing an average of more than 2,100 people with safe drinking water each day. In addition, Samaritan’s Purse has reach more than 2,000 people with hygiene awareness messaging, and distributed water containers to more than 520 households.

In early October, the DART, with DoD support, transported 3,000 feet of DOWASCO replacement pipes and related equipment to Dominica’s isolated Grand Bay community to assist with repairing the water distribution system.

On October 7, the UN World Food Program (WFP) announced that it is developing a plan to provide emergency food assistance to 25,000 food-insecure Dominicans for up to three months. The UN agency will provide a combination of immediate in-kind food rations, followed by cash-based transfers for food as local markets reopen. WFP and other humanitarian organizations have already begun to assess the status of local markets and the country’s food supply. In addition, WFP is providing technical assistance on emergency food commodity distributions to national and local authorities to ensure that ongoing GoCD-led distributions are transparent and sensitive to protection needs.

Hurricane Maria decimated Dominica’s agriculture and fishery sectors, severely damaging the livelihood opportunities and food security of a substantial proportion of the island’s population, the UN reports. As of October 6, relief actors had, in total, distributed approximately 100 MT of food assistance, including 17 MT of high-energy biscuits from WFP, to populations in more than 80 villages and other locations. In coordination with food distributions, WFP has also delivered approximately 23,500 gallons of safe drinking water.

Humanitarian stakeholders are conducting rapid market assessments to determine the feasibility of cash transfer programming in Dominica and have established a cash and voucher working group to harmonize assessment methodologies and coordinate standards for potential cash programming.

The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) launched a revised appeal for $5.7 million—an increase from IFRC’s previous appeal of $1.6 million—to support the Dominica Red Cross Society to assist 15,000 people for one year. IFRC has distributed emergency relief items to nearly 1,500 Dominican households, including 1,200 blankets, 60 food parcels, 140 kitchen sets, 1,600 mosquito nets, and nearly 2,200 tarpaulins. IFRC is also supporting WASH interventions, including installing temporary water treatment equipment and distributing water purification tablets.

During successive weeks in September, hurricanes Irma, Jose, and Maria tracked through the Caribbean. The storms, particularly Irma and Maria, brought destructive winds, heavy rainfall, and dangerous storm surge to affected islands, leading to at least 52 fatalities and causing significant infrastructure damage across the region.

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 contributed 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 and stood up a Washington, D.C.-based Response Management Team to coordinate the USG’s humanitarian response to the hurricanes.

On September 9, U.S. Embassy in Paris Chargé d’Affaires D. Brent Hardt issued a disaster declaration for French Saint-Martin, and on September 10, U.S. Embassy in The Hague Chargé d’Affaires Shawn Crowley declared a disaster for Sint Maarten due to the effects of Hurricane Irma and anticipated effects of Hurricane Jose. In response, USAID/OFDA contributed an initial $100,000 each for activities in Saint-Martin and Sint Maarten.

Following the passage of Hurricane Maria, Ambassador Taglialatela issued disaster declarations for Dominica and Saint Kitts and Nevis on September 19 and 22, respectively. In response, USAID/OFDA provided an initial $100,000 to Dominica and $50,000 to Saint Kitts and Nevis for immediate humanitarian relief efforts.

On October 2, Ambassador Taglialatela renewed the disaster declarations in Antigua and Barbuda and Dominica for FY 2018 due to continued humanitarian needs caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria.

On October 9, the DART demobilized, initiating a shift to a field based USAID/OFDA regional team that will continue to monitor the humanitarian response and support the implementation and coordination of early recovery activities.

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: October 12, 2017

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