Overview of Current Situation
As a result of Hurricane Lenny, assessments indicate that the vast majority of the damage was to infrastructure and the environment, especially coastal roads, sea defenses, docks, and beaches. The widespread destruction in the Eastern Caribbean has negatively impacted numerous industries, including agriculture, fishing, natural resources management, and tourism. The humanitarian needs are not overwhelming and primarily consist of relief supplies and assistance for persons who lost their homes. The affected countries' governments judge the primary needs to be long-term reconstruction and rehabilitation aid, and assistance in overcoming the economic losses. Estimates of damages and reconstruction costs in the region are in the hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars.
The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency (CDERA) issued a report on November 29 that summarized the findings of damage assessments conducted by the Eastern Caribbean Donor Group, which included USAID/OFDA. Based on this report, overall damage, impact, and needs in the affected countries were listed as follows:
Damage to lifeline services was minimal.
Most of the damage throughout the region was water-related. Comparatively, minimal direct wind damage was reported.
The costs of damage to the natural environment, including beach erosion, mudslides, and lost trails have not yet been fully estimated. Further assessments will have to be conducted to accurately quantify these losses.
Damage to hotels, restaurants, docks for cruise ships, and beaches will have a negative impact on the winter tourism season, which is about to begin.
Damage to ports could negatively affect the import and export of cargo for extended periods of time. Hurricane Lenny was the second storm to hit some of these ports in the last five years, causing the loss of repairs made after previous storms.
The western coasts of the islands received more damage than other areas. Many of the roads along these coasts were washed away or severely damaged. The destruction of many sea defenses has also left the remaining roads extremely vulnerable to erosion in the near term.
Since most of the displaced persons are currently housed with family and friends, emergency relief needs are not overwhelming. Long-term reparation and reconstruction of homes is the main concern for these displaced populations.
Hurricane Lenny has contributed to renewed interest on the part of the Eastern Caribbean Donor Group in the continuing need to incorporate vulnerability and risk assessments into reconstruction and rehabilitation planning and to integrate disaster management and mitigation into long-term national development plans.
USAID/OFDA received a disaster declaration cable from the U.S. Embassy in Barbados on November 22 for Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, Grenada, St. Vincent, and St. Lucia. On November 29, the U.S. Embassy sent a second cable requesting $25,000 each for the islands of Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, and Dominica. The requested funds were provided on November 30 to the UNDP as a grant to aid these countries in meeting shelter and other basic needs of the displaced populations. In response to a U.S. Embassy request for $25,000 on December 17 due to the disaster in St. Lucia, USAID/OFDA provided an additional $25,000 to UNDP to meet the immediate shelter and relief needs of displaced populations in St. Lucia.
USAID/OFDA provided a $75,000 grant to PAHO to meet the emergency needs of victims of Hurricane Lenny for a period of six months. Project activities will include improving water and sanitation conditions and preventing disease outbreaks and rodent control problems in Antigua and Barbuda and St. Kitts and Nevis.
On November 19, a six-person USAID/OFDA team deployed to the region to assist with damage assessments and identify potential emergency needs. The team was composed of the USAID/OFDA Regional Advisor from Jamaica (Team Leader), a USAID/OFDA Regional Advisor from the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) Office in Costa Rica, and four disaster specialists from Miami-Dade Fire and Rescue. The Team Leader remained in Barbados to coordinate with the U.S. Embassy and international donors and to communicate information back to USAID in Washington. Other team members participated in the Rapid Needs Assessment Team (RNAT) organized by the Eastern Caribbean Donor Group to conduct preliminary analysis of damages and needs. The USAID/OFDA team departed from the region upon completion of these assessments.
Additionally, USAID/OFDA provided $8,000 to fund four local engineers to join the RNAT to assist in assessments of damages to infrastructure. The governments and reconstruction agencies of the affected islands will use the results to determine reconstruction activities.
Total USAID/OFDA Assistance: U.S. $183,000
Other USG Assistance
At the request of the Government of the Netherlands (GON), the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) supplied a C-130 aircraft to transport relief commodities from Curacao to the islands of St. Maarten, Saba, and St. Eustatius. The GON has agreed to fully reimburse the DOD for the cost of the flight.
On December 9, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) issued an appeal for $500,000 cash and in-kind services to meet the needs of 4,700 beneficiaries for a period of two months. The overall goal of IFRC's operation is to provide emergency relief and shelter to people in St. Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines through the provision of food distributions for the homeless, emergency housing repairs, replacement of fish traps, and reinforcement of the Dominica Red Cross' operational capacity.
The Eastern Caribbean Donors Group, a group organized to coordinate donor response to natural disasters, deployed the RNAT on November 21, to assist national disaster authorities in the affected islands to conduct damage assessments. The CDERA Coordinating Unit coordinated the effort and served as the primary contact for the receipt and dissemination of information. Damage assessments were completed by November 26, and the Donor Group met on November 29 to review the summary report compiled by CDERA and determine long-term recommendations for donor assistance. The Donor Group is chaired by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and includes the U.S. Embassy in Barbados, USAID/OFDA, the British Department for International Development (DFID), the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), various UN organizations, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the World Bank, CDERA, the Regional Security System (RSS) and the Organization of American States (OAS).
The American Red Cross (ARC) deployed personnel to the region to assist with assessments and to determine emergency humanitarian needs. Based on a November 25 report from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the branches of the Societies located in the affected countries provided food and family relief packages to displaced persons in the area.
National governments and local disaster management authorities throughout the affected islands worked closely with U.S. and international agencies, the Donor Group, and relief organizations to effectively assess emergency needs and report important information on damages. The Governments of Dominica and Grenada have supplied the U.S. Embassy with preliminary lists of reconstruction needs to rectify damage to infrastructure.
Public Donations Information
In the interest of effective coordination of public response, we encourage monetary donations to appropriate organizations. USAID encourages the public to contact directly those private voluntary organizations (PVOs) currently working in the region to provide monetary donations. A list of the PVOs may be obtained from the USAID web site at www.info.usaid.gov. The list is composed of PVOs that are registered with USAID and/or listed by InterAction, a coalition of voluntary humanitarian and development organizations that work overseas; InterAction can be contacted at 1-202-667-8227 x106, or via the Internet at www.interaction.org. Those interested in providing specific technical relief services or commodities should contact Volunteers in Technical Assistance's (VITA) Disaster Information Center for information and guidelines at (703) 276-1914 or via the Internet at www.vita.org.
A tropical system that formed in the Southwest Caribbean over the weekend of November 13-14, 1999 was upgraded to Hurricane Lenny on the afternoon of November 14. As a Category 4 hurricane, Lenny produced maximum sustained winds of almost 140 MPH and over 30 inches of rain in certain areas. After having minimal effect on Jamaica, Hurricane Lenny turned to the northeast, passed south of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and crossed over Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, before stalling in the northeastern Caribbean for two days. Some of the most severe damage was sustained in the Leeward Islands of French St. Martin, Dutch St. Maarten, Anguilla, Antigua, Saba, St. Eustatius, and St. Kitts and Nevis. The southern Windward Islands of Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia, Dominica, and Guadeloupe also sustained damage to infrastructure from thunderstorms and high seas as a result of the hurricane. Lenny was downgraded to a tropical storm on the afternoon of November 19, and was further downgraded to a tropical depression over the weekend of November 20 and 21.
For additional information, please access the Natural Disasters section of ReliefWeb at http://www.reliefweb.int.