After the Hurricane – an overview of the damage Irma and Maria left behind
More than 10 countries and territories were directly affected as Hurricane Irma ravaged the Caribbean and later the coastal states in the U.S.. The International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) reports various levels of damages and needs in Antigua and Barbuda, British, Dutch and French Antilles, the Bahamas, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Saint Kitts and Nevis, the United States and territories, among others. Beside, Hurricane María affected recently Dominica and Puerto Rico.
Impact has varied among these countries, but some damages include: flooded homes, lack of drinking water and electrical services, massive destruction of plantations and crops, risks associated with mosquito-borne and water-borne diseases, collapsed structures, public safety issues, millions of evacuees in shelters and more than three dozen deaths.
The IFRC is coordinating with National Societies in each country and territory to support affected communities, including distribution of humanitarian aid, deployment of specialized staff focused on water and sanitation, health, shelter and other activities.
Additionally, the IFRC continues to monitor needs in each National Society to support where needed.
Below, a summary of identified damages and needs, as well as current Red Cross response activities by country and territory:
Antigua and Barbuda
Nearly 90% of the structures on the island of Barbuda were damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Irma, which led to a complete evacuation from the island to Antigua. Roads, electrical, communications and water systems were also damaged. Many of the schools on both islands suspended classes. An estimated 50% of the population lost their homes and the government registered 1,300 evacuees, although there is evidence of other cases that were not formally registered.
The Antigua and Barbuda Red Cross is evaluating damages and needs, and has distributed humanitarian aid kits, mainly in the shelters where evacuees are housed. The IFRC is preparing a proposal for a cash transfer program to those most affected. Additionally, the Red Cross will provide psychosocial support.
The IFRC launched an emergency appeal for 1.1 million Swiss francs to support the most affected families in Antigua and Barbuda and Saint Kitts and Nevis.
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Nearly 10% of the homes on the island were damaged and are expected to gradually recover. Agricultural authorities report partial damage to crops and livestock, with potentially a very high economic impact on these activities. IFRC is monitoring the threat of mosquito and water borne diseases.
The Saint Kitts and Nevis Red Cross is conducting preliminary evaluations and distributing emergency kits. The IFRC launched an emergency appeal for 1.1 million Swiss francs to support the most affected families in Antigua and Barbuda and Saint Kitts and Nevis.
Roads, buildings, homes, and telecommunication systems were damaged to various extents. The Bahamas Red Cross is working to aid 3,000 people affected by the hurricane, while volunteers are ensuring food distribution to those most affected.
More than 2 million people were evacuated before the hurricane. Authorities report that 10 people died in La Habana, Matanzas, Camaguey, and Ciego de Avila. There are 230 thousand people in temporal shelters.
From the moment that Irma was declared a hurricane, the Cuban Red Cross mobilized their teams at the national level. On September 6, 2017, more than 7,000 volunteers were deployed to support public entities. 877 volunteers supported evacuations in Guantanamo, Holguin Las Tunas, Granma, Santiago de Cuba, Camaguey, Ciego de Avila and Villa Clara. Additionally, the Cuban Red Cross set up 117 offices in the provinces affected by the hurricane to aid in re-establishing family links.
The Cuban Red Cross is providing first aid, psychosocial support, registration services, and aid distribution in evacuation centres.
There are 63.678 houses affected and, 10.446 homes were completely destroyed. Besides, more than 50 thousand hectares of farm production was lost. In addition, 1.700 school buildings were affected.
Authorities report that several areas are flooded, roads are blocked, certain buildings and homes damaged, and some coastal communities are lacking electricity services and many areas don’t have phone service.
In total, reports show 993 affected homes, 1,474 people moved to family homes, 98 people in shelters, 15 communities lacking communication, 58 damaged aqueducts, affecting 1,452,000 users.
The Dominican Red Cross has been working on supporting shelter administration, rescue services, and epidemic controls and water and sanitation.
The IFRC is preparing response and mobilizing teams to aid in health prevention and response services.
Initial reports show extensive damage to crops, livestock, and several areas with banana plantations. Immediate needs include drinking water, mattresses, latrines, clean-up, drainage systems and medicine.
The main areas affected are located in the northeast of the country, including Caracol, Ferier, Ouanaminthe and Malfety. Here, more than 1,000 houses were flooded, and buildings and homes were destroyed.
The Haitian Red Cross, together with partner NGOs, evaluated the situation in the affected areas and distributed hygiene kits to affected families.
British Antilles (Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos)
These three territories report hundreds affected by the hurricane. A large number of families lost their homes, belongings, vehicles, etc. Situational reports show severe damages to public buildings, businesses, schools, interruption of electrical, water and telecommunication services. 4 deaths were reported in Anguilla.
Robberies and lack of security are reported on the British Virgin Islands. Many roads are blocked and only one hospital is operating. Shelters are at or over their capacity, forcing those affected to seek shelter elsewhere during the night. 7 deaths have been reported.
On the other hand, Turks and Caicos saw severe structural damages, and there is a lack of security on the roads at night. Salt Cay is the most affected, currently completely under water.
The most urgent needs include food, drinking water, clothing, tent covers, and more. The British Red Cross has been key in locating shelters, first aid, and together with the Canadian Red Cross have distributed 500 aid kits.
The British Red Cross has launched an emergency appeal to help those most affected by Hurricane Irma and the UK government has pledged to double all public donations to the appeal.
Several areas in San Bartolome saw heavy flooding, some houses lost their roofs and affected people need food and water according to the authorities.
95% of the territory in St Martin has seen severe damage, an estimated 110 people were injured, while floods persist. Prisons on the island were destroyed by the hurricane and 250 detainees went free; meanwhile robberies have also been reported. Reports say that 10 people died, and the affected population’s immediate needs include water and shelter.
The French and Danish Red Cross Societies deployed emergency response teams to both islands and are coordinating follow-up activities. Distribution of 300 family kits to 1,200 people is planned.
Dutch Antilles (Saba and St Maarten)
Several buildings on these islands were destroyed and the communications infrastructure was partially damaged. The Red Cross has distributed aid kits with water, food and shelter. The Dutch Red Cross is evaluating possible health interventions.
Strong winds and torrential rain left 1 million people without power and thousands without water. More than 5,000 homes saw strong damage and are inaccessible.
The American Red Cross is working on distributing food in shelters and first aid. Rescue teams continue searches for missing persons.
U.S. Virgin Islands
Many areas saw damages, including roads, structures, and some have not yet been able to re-establish power, and may not have proper access to food and water. The American Red Cross is providing humanitarian aid by distributing food and hygiene kits.
Territories affected by Hurricane Maria:
Dominica, one of the poorest countries in the Caribbean, the hurricane tore through the entire island, ripping rooftops, power lines and water pipelines directly or indirectly affecting the entire 70,000 odd population of the country, according to reports received by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA). It is said that damages could reach into billions of dollars.
According with CDEMA, Guadeloupe faced some of Maria’s impact, with several of its road networks affected by fallen trees is making efforts to limp back to normalcy. Many thousands of people remain without power.