Antigua and Barbuda: Hurricane Irma - Emergency Plan of Action (EPoA) n° MDRAG003

A. Situation analysis

Description of the disaster

Hurricane Irma is currently moving through the Atlantic as a Category 4 Hurricane; it is currently located 560 miles east of the Leeward Islands. The latest forecast suggests Irma could be a Category 4 hurricane on the morning of Wednesday, 6 September, which is when it is expected to approach Antigua and Barbuda; a direct hit on these islands remains possible. Sustained winds close to the eye of the hurricane should reach 130 to 156 mph. The system will also bring torrential rains close to its centre and from spiral bands on its sides. On 3 September 2017, the United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s National Hurricane Centre and government of Antigua & Barbuda issued a Hurricane Watch for the islands; On 4 September 2017, a Hurricane Warning was declared for the islands. The Atlantic hurricane season runs from 1 June to 31 November; September and October are the peak of the season, and the months in which the islands are most at risk.

Summary of the current response

Overview of Host National Society

In anticipation of direct impact from Hurricane Irma, the Antigua and Barbuda Red Cross has activated its internal disaster response protocols in coordination with the activation of the national disaster response system; the National Society has also carried out national assessments ahead of the storm to identify critical areas that are likely to pose a challenge to its response activities. Additionally, the ABRC has positioned Community Disaster Response Teams (CDRTs) and community Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) in six high-risk communities to respond to a potential emergency, and it has plastic sheeting, jerry cans and emergency back packs, which it intends to distribute to families who are at risk of being displaced by Hurricane Irma. Lastly, the ABRC has experience providing food in past emergencies such as Hurricane Earl and Hurricane Gustavo to affected people in collective centres, and it successfully implemented a Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) in response to Hurricane Earl, in which it we provided mattresses to 100 families and restored the livelihoods of 100 fishermen that lost their main source of income during the disaster.

Overview of Red Cross Red Crescent Movement in country

The IFRC and Partner National; Societies (PNSs) do not a physical presence in country; consequently, the Caribbean country cluster office in Trinidad and Tobago and the IFRC’s regional office for the Americas (ARO) in Panama have been remotely supporting the National Society.

Movement Coordination

ARO declared an Alert II for the event on 31 August 2017, and coordination among the Antigua and Barbuda Red Cross, the Caribbean country cluster and ARO was established that same day. Lastly, ARO developed a Dashboard to monitor the storm’s progress.

Overview of non-RCRC actors in country

The government of Antigua and Barbuda has activated the country’s national Disaster response system, and islands are currently under a Hurricane Warning, with the expected impact to be within the next 24 to 48 hours; in addition, the government has made efforts to clear blocked drains and trim overhanging trees from power lines. Finally, it should be mentioned that as an entity that has a seat at all levels of the government’s emergency system, the ABRC is well positioned to influence the coordination of the response actions.

Needs analysis, beneficiary selection, risk assessment and scenario planning

Based on the National Society assessments ahead of the storm to identify critical areas, the following sectors have been identified to be supported:

Shelter and Settlements (and household items): The government will not issue relief items to the affected people in the collective centres; consequently, the ABRC must provide the affected families with family kits to cover this need. Shoddy infrastructure could expose vulnerable families’ dwellings and their belongings to storm damage, requiring the distribution of tarpaulins.

Water and sanitation and hygiene promotion: Hurricane Irma could adversely impact Antigua and Barbuda’s potable water system, thereby disrupting the provision of drinking water to the islands’ residents and exposing them to potential waterborne and vector-borne illnesses brought on by unhygienic conditions.

Food security, nutrition and livelihoods: The government will not provide food to the families in the collective, who may have to shelter in the centres for at least 24 hours; consequently, the ABRC must cover the families’ food needs while they are in the collective centres.

Beneficiary Selection:

The operation of the Antigua and Barbuda Red Cross aims to reach 475 families affected by Hurricane Irma. The following selection criteria have been established for the operation at community and family level:

  • Families affected by the event in critical areas.
  • Exposure to health and survival risks
  • Families whose livelihoods have been affected
  • Families in collective centres
  • Families who have not received similar assistance from another institution

Risk Assessment

Hurricane Irma’s trajectory is still uncertain at this time; however, a a small deviation in the storm’s path could mean a greater or lower impact on the islands.