Bahamas Red Cross Responds to Hurricane Joaquin
21 October 2015
On Wednesday September 30th, 2015, Hurricane Joaquin became the tenth named hurricane of the 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season. Hurricane warnings were issued for several islands in Bahamas, including Abacos, Berry Islands, Eleuthra, Grand Bahama Island, New Providence, Acklins, Crooked Island, Mayaguana, Bimini, and Andros Island. Tropical storm warnings were issued in the remainder of the Bahamas, as well as Turks and Caicos, and the Camaguey, Las Tunas, Holguin and Guantanamo provinces in Cuba.
Anticipating the impact, the Bahama Red Cross Society proceeded to activate their National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) and emergency shelters on September 30th. One of the first actions taken by the Bahamas Red Cross was to hold food, water and clothing drives to help with the immediate relief distribution that would take place. Joaquin’s impact on Bahamas lasted over the next four days until October 3rd, with an all-clear being issued on October 4th.
Given the extent of the damage and relief and recovery measures that are required in the Bahamas, the National Society requested the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) use of the Disaster Relief Reserve Fund (DREF) for a 3 months relief operation.
The funds granted by the IFRC will be used to meet the needs identified by the Bahamas Red Cross, such as:
Food and Water – The flooding on several islands severely impacted access to safe water and food. The National Society launched a food, water, and clothing drive and will undertake to provide food, water and clothing packages for affected families for one month. Distribution will using ODK and Mega V systems
Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion – Potable water has been restored in many islands but CDEMA indicates contaminated water on at least one of the affected islands. The Bahamas Red Cross will deliver jerry cans and hygiene kits to affected families, and continue to promote safe hygiene and water practices.
Health and Care - The flooding in some areas provide the necessary conditions for breeding vector-borne and water-borne diseases. The Bahamas Red Cross will promote the prevention of these diseases, both to beneficiaries and volunteers, as well as distribute mosquito nets.
Reports also indicate concern for the mental and emotional well-being of those affected by Hurricane Joaquin. The Bahamas Red Cross has requested assistance in evaluating the need for psychosocial support (PSP) from the Jamaica Red Cross, which will be facilitated through the Regional Intervention Team (RIT) deployment mechanism. Training in PSP and Community Based Health and First Aid (CBHFA) will be coordinated with the Ministry of Health and Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).
Shelter and relief distribution – Several houses have been destroyed or severely damaged. Cleaning kits and kitchen sets will be needed, as well as other non-food items to complement relief distribution by other partners. The Jamaica Red Cross will assist with procuring these items, which will be replenished through the emergency operation.
The Director General of the Bahamas Red Cross Society will have overall oversight for the emergency operation. At least 50 volunteers from the National Society Headquarters and groups from the Family Islands will be included in the coordination. A RIT specializing in PSP will be deployed to assess and support provision of services and training.
Most relief items will need to be sourced regionally or internationally. Due to the geographic proximity, the Jamaica Red Cross’ predisposed stock will account for the coverage of 600 jerry cans, 300 cleaning kits, 300 kitchen sets, and 300 hygiene kits to be delivered. The Regional Logistics Services Unit in Panama will replenish these kits, as well as source 1,200 mosquito nets.
Please visit the Bahamas Red Cross Facebook page for more information on their activities https://www.facebook.com/Bahamas-Red-Cross-Society-287498687576/timeline/
Initial reports indicated widespread power outages, disruption to telecommunications and water distribution systems, and flood and debris damage to road networks. Several Bahamas Red Cross groups formed on affected islands, taking on relief responsibilities ranging from shelter management to distributing relief supplies.
The most recent damage and needs assessments indicate significant impact over several islands, with an estimated 6,710 people affected.
Acklins Island (pop. 560):
No deaths have been reported. Road networks remain flooded, and communications are limited to satellite phone due to damage to communications towers. No shelter has been activated, and approximately 90% of the houses in Lovely Bay, Chester, and Snug Corner have been severely damaged or destroyed. There are 4 clinics are on the island, each with varying degrees of water and electricity supply.
The drinking water treatment plant in Salina Point is not currently operational due to lack of electricity. Stored water is being distributed to 60 households for drinking water, and one bottled water plant in Spring Point is providing water for entire island.
Crooked Island and Long Cay (Pop. 323)
The main port is inoperable, all houses on the Eastern side have suffered severe roof damage and road access between the East and West of the Island is currently passable only by large trucks. The local school is severely damaged. A satellite clinic has been destroyed, though the main clinic served as temporary shelter for at least 20 persons. Utilities and telecommunications infrastructure remains down.
Breeding sites for vector borne diseases are a concern given the open water cisterns and water storage tanks in marsh areas.
Exuma (Pop. 7,314)
Power lines are down and there is extreme flooding.
Long Island (Pop. 3,024)
The impact has been most significant in Sand Pond and Clarence Town, with several buildings sustaining heavy damage from high winds. In flooded low lying areas, several houses suffered damage from high water levels. Power lines are down in some areas. Clinics in the south of the island are either damaged or not in use.
Minor injuries, Non Communicable Diseases (NCD), and mental health concerns are being addressed at a temporary clinic. Pyschosocial support has been identified as a need. Relief is being sent from Nassau for resident clinic staff.
Drinking water supply and conditions are stable, and though waste collection services have been disrupted, they should improve shortly as roads re-open.
Mayaguana (Pop. 271)
Efforts are currently underway to restore communications. There has been minor damage to home structures, including loss of roofing shingles.
Rum Cay (Pop. 99)
There are reports of flooding, downed trees, blocked roads, and a full power outage due to downed power lines. The airport is flooded, but the airstrip remains accessible. The shipping dock has been destroyed.
San Salvador (Pop. 930)
There has been widespread flooding, and power lines and poles are down. Cell sites remain functional, though there has been damage to power station roof. Generators will need repair. The airport building has been destroyed, but the airstrip remains accessible.
There has also been significant damage to homes. Reports indicate that there are 84 persons at the Odell Center and 104 persons at the Research Center.