Antigua and Barbuda and Saint Kitts and Nevis: Hurricane Irma - Emergency Appeal n° MDR49009

This Emergency Appeal seeks a total of some 1,128,171 Swiss francs (CHF) on a preliminary basis to enable the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to support the Antigua and Barbuda Red Cross (ABRC) and Saint Kitts and Nevis Red Cross Society (SKNRCS) to deliver assistance and support to 500 families (2,500 people) for six months, with a focus on the following sectors: health; water, sanitation and hygiene promotion (WASH); and shelter (including household non-food items). Cash transfer programming (CTP) is also a major part of this Emergency Appeal. The planned response reflects the current situation and information available at this time of the evolving operation, and it will be adjusted based on further developments and more detailed assessments. The complete Emergency Plan of Action (EPoA) will be made available shortly.

The disaster and the Red Cross Red Crescent response to date

30 of August 2017: Irma develops near the Cape Verde Islands from a tropical wave. It is the ninth named storm, fourth hurricane, and second major hurricane of the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season.

5-6 of September 2017: Irma makes landfall on north-east Caribbean islands during the early hours of 6 September, affecting Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, St Barthélemy, St. Martin, the Virgin Islands, Saint Kitts and Nevis and other islands in the eastern Caribbean Sea.

6 September 2017: The IFRC allocates 61,418 Swiss francs for ABRC and 64,301 Swiss francs for SKNRCS from the IFRC’s Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF).

08 September 2017: The IFRC issues Emergency Appeal for 1,128,171 Swiss francs to assist 500 families (2500 people) for six months.

The operational strategy

Background

Hurricane Irma, a powerful Category 5 hurricane packing winds more than 185 miles per hour, impacted several eastern Caribbean countries on 6 September 2017. Irma’s wide band swept over Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrat and Saint Kitts and Nevis with Barbuda and Anguilla most heavily affected.

Impact in Barbuda was severe as the eye of the hurricane passed five miles north of the 35-square mile island. 90 percent of all buildings are reported as destroyed or severely damaged. Telecommunication systems in the island are down and power supply remains off across the island. One fatality is reported.

Hurricane Irma is the first storm on record to maintain its Category 5 rating for such a long amount of time, according to the French weather service. The record comes after the storm sustained maximum wind speeds of 185 miles per hour, becoming the only Atlantic hurricane to sustain such powerful wind speeds for so long. The last hurricane maintaining such winds for even close to that long was hurricane Allen, which hit northern Mexico and southern Texas in 1980. Allen had winds of 180 mph and above for around 18 hours.

Irma has killed at least 10 people as it continues its destructive march across the Caribbean. At least eight people were killed and 23 injured in French Caribbean island territories, as stated by the France’ interior Minister.

The affected population in both islands face yet another threat — a second hurricane, Jose, which appears to have the same trajectory as Irma. According to the United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s National Hurricane Centre (NHC) hurricane Jose is at the moment about 715 miles east of the Lesser Antilles, and is blowing with maximum winds of 90 miles per hour and is a Category 3 hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean. A hurricane watch is in effect for Antigua, Barbuda, Anguilla, Sint Maarten and Saint Martin. A tropical storm warning is also in effect for Antigua and Barbuda and Anguilla. A tropical storm watch has been issued for Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saba and St. Eustatius. This Emergency Appeal will not only help support the response of hurricane Irma, but also the preparation for the future threat of hurricane Jose.