Bahamas: Hurricane Jeanne Appeal No. 23/04 Operations Update No. 2

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In Brief

Appeal No. 23/04; Operations Update no. 2; Period covered: 30 October to 23 December, 2004; Appeal coverage: 80.9%

Appeal history

  • Launched on 4 October 2004 for CHF 958,000 (USD 759,046 or EUR 617,165) for 3 months to assist 15,000 beneficiaries.
  • Disaster Relief Emergency Funds (DREF) allocated: CHF 70,000.
Outstanding needs: CHF 182,876 (USD 156,496 or EUR 117,988)

Related Emergency or Annual Appeals: Caribbean Annual Appeal 01.51/2004

Operational Summary

To date, a total of 843 families have received assistance on Abaco Island. On Grand Bahama, a total of 1146 families have received assistance. In addition to food and non-food items, on Grand Bahama, the BRCS has been distributing building supplies that have been purchased with a grant from a local business. Additionally, on the other islands, over 900 families have received assistance, including food parcels and health kits. Currently, efforts are focused on preparing for the upcoming ECHO-funded distribution of food, tarps, hygiene kits and water containers. The upcoming distributions will be focused on the most vulnerable groups affected by Hurricane Jeanne, including undocumented migrants, the elderly, single mothers, multi-children families, low income families and the disabled. In addition to the distribution of relief goods, a mapping of the National Society's telecommunications capabilities has been conducted. The information obtained from the mapping will be used to design the HF and UHF telecommunications systems. An office to house the Red Cross branch on Abaco Island, which previously did not have an office, has also been located and rented, strengthening the Red Cross' presence in that area and facilitating the ongoing relief operation.

Background

Hurricane Jeanne made landfall in the Bahamas on Saturday, 25 September, damaging several hundred homes. Jeanne, a category 3 hurricane, struck the Bahamas just three weeks after another category 3 storm, Hurricane Frances, which caused two deaths and affected more than 8,000 people in Grand Bahamas Island. There are no reports of deaths or serious injuries in the wake of Hurricane Jeanne, but flood waters rose to more than six feet in some areas and roofs were blown off of houses.

Hurricane Jeanne impacted the north-western Bahamas, including Abaco, Andros, Berry, Bimini, Eleuthera, Exuma, Grand Bahama and New Providence islands. Hurricane Jeanne has caused the most significant damage on the Grand Bahama and Abaco islands. Representatives of the Bahamas Red Cross Society (BRCS) and a disaster management delegate from the Federation's Pan American Disaster Response Unit (PADRU) travelled to Grand Bahama and Abaco Islands and conducted a preliminary assessment. Based on this survey, it became clear that damage from Hurricane Jeanne is much greater than that caused by Hurricane Frances. Almost all of the areas affected by Hurricane Jeanne are the same that were struck by Hurricane Frances, and many homes that were weakened by Frances have now been more seriously damaged by Jeanne. All along the coast of Grand Bahama Island, homes have been flooded by the storm surge. Electricity services have been cut and water supplies are limited in many areas. The vulnerability assessments are still in progress.

In 8 Mile Rock, the largest community on Grand Bahama Island, over 75 percent of the homes have suffered serious structural damage, with roofs partially or completely torn off. All shelters in 8 Mile Rock sustained structural damages and/or flooding. The eastern half of the island has been cut off by storm surges and reports indicate significant flooding of homes, particularly along the coastline. In the city of Freeport on Grand Bahama Island, the airport was flooded but was reopened the following day.

Communications were cut off with Abaco Island after Jeanne's eye passed directly over the island on Sunday 26 September, bringing 115 mile per hour winds and heavy rains. Preliminary reports indicate that the most populated town of Marsh Harbour has been significantly flooded. Officials report that on this island 758 people had taken refuge at an emergency shelter that was set up in a local school. The primarily Haitian settlements of Pigeon Pea and the Mud were completely submerged in four to five feet of water. Families in these areas are staying in shelters or with relatives. Cooper's Town and Dundas Town have also been greatly damaged.

Operational developments

The Bahamas continue to recover from the affects of Hurricanes Jeanne and Frances. Telecommunications have been restored on all of the islands, although a number of houses still need to be reconnected to services. Electrical services are functioning as well. In the illegal Haitian settlements water remains a problem with some residents reporting no water services to date. In both Grand Bahama and Abaco there is an on-going need for food and construction materials. At this time all airports and seaports are functioning normally.

Surveys by local health officials give no indication that there has been an increased incident of communicable disease as a result of the hurricanes. Most common health problems affecting vulnerable populations on the island are not related to the disaster, but rather result from poor nutrition and living conditions (especially in the Haitian settlements) -these health problems include diabetes, hypertension, acute respiratory infection, and AIDS.

In terms of nutritional problems, food is generally available on all islands although access is a problem for some of the more vulnerable families, especially those with multiple children or that are temporarily unemployed as a result of the hurricanes. With the exception of seafood and some locally grown fruits and vegetables, all food on the islands is imported which results in high costs for even basic food items. There appears to be little malnutrition; however diabetes and hypertension are major nutrition-related concerns.

Haitian immigrants make up the largest vulnerable population in the Bahamas. The actual number of Haitians living in the Bahamas is unknown. It is widely recognized that the majority are illegal immigrants. Most live in unregulated, illegal settlements and reside in poorly constructed wooden shanties. While both Bahamian and Haitian communities were affected by the hurricanes, the Bahamian communities have begun recovering more quickly. Most have already repaired their homes and are back to work, and are well on the road to recovery. However, there are a number of vulnerable Bahamian families which are still in need of assistance, particularly those with elderly family members, single mothers and unemployed heads of household. Both the Haitian and Bahamian communities have expressed strong gratitude to the Bahamas Red Cross as one of the few organizations that has provided them with immediate assistance following the hurricanes.

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For further information specifically related to this operation please contact:

  • In the Bahamas: Marina Glinton, Director General, Bahamas Red Cross Society; phone (1 242) 323-7370, fax (1 242) 323-7404
  • In the Bahamas: Sheila Thornton, Bahamas Operation Team Leader; email ifrcbs02@ifrc.org, phone (1 242) 323-7370, fax (1 242) 323-7404
  • In Geneva: Luis Luna, Federation Regional Officer, Americas Department, Geneva; email luis.luna@ifrc.org, phone (41 22) 730-4274, fax (41-22) 733-0395
All International Federation assistance seeks to adhere to the Code of Conduct and is committed to the Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response in delivering assistance to the most vulnerable. For support to or for further information concerning Federation programmes or operations in this or other countries, or for a full description of the national society profile, please access the Federation's website at http://www.ifrc.org