Hurricane Dorian Situation Report #17 (December 12, 2019)
• More than three months after Hurricane Dorian, the official death toll has risen to 70. There are still 300 people reported missing.
• International Medical Corps has provided 1,036 consultations to patients on Grand Bahama island.
• As of Dec 9, Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) have reached 977 individuals with information on health, hygiene, and mental health and psychosocial support services.
• With support from Rotary/ Worldwaterworks Ltd., International Medical Corps distributed 140 Water Survival Kits.
More than three months after Hurricane Dorian, tele-connectivity and road access has improved, and ports and airports have also become operational again. Previously dormant shops are beginning to re-open—including the Arcade Building, one of the oldest buildings in Freeport. Damaged by massive flooding during Hurricane Dorian, reconstruction efforts on the building were hindered by challenges related to transportation and supplies. Now, contractors are able to push forward with restoration efforts and the Arcade’s manager expects that 90 percent of its stores will be reopened before the holidays —a positive indication of the return of economic activity to Grand Bahama island.
To aid in reconstruction efforts, the government of the Bahamas has established a new Ministry of Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction, and a Disaster Reconstruction Authority Bill is currently under review to address issues related to reconstruction, distribution of funds, and coordination with national and international organizations.
In addition to businesses, health and social services are returning to regular operations on the island. All Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) medical personnel on Grand Bahama have returned to work. At Rand Memorial Hospital, the average number of outpatients has increased from 30 per day to 50 or more per day. As access to services improves, residents of Grand Bahama are returning to their homes and properties to assess damages and determine next steps. Along these lines, the National Emergency Management Agency reported on November 13 that the number of people in official shelters has decreased, from 1,957 people in September to 589 people.
While people are returning to the island, the emergency relief phase is transitioning to long-term recovery. There are needs for ongoing interventions related to healthcare, mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS), and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). There is a shortage of potable water on the island and poor environmental hygienic conditions, increasing the risks of communicable diseases.
Though the Grand Bahama Utility Company has restored water infrastructure in most communities, the water still has a high degree of salinity. In fact, the free residual chlorine has not been stabilized within WHO-recommended standards (between 0.3 and 0.5 mg), and is often either too high (up to 2 mg/liter) or too low (up to 0.1 mg/liter).
Waste management also continues to present challenges, both at the health facility and household levels. Before the storm, Rand Memorial Hospital and all of the satellite clinics on Grand Bahama disposed of medical waste at an incinerator located on hospital grounds, a process that required a consistent coordination of hospital vehicles to collect and transport waste across the island. However, the incinerator and hospital vehicles were all damaged during the storm. Though the incinerator has since been repaired, the lack of reliable transportation across Grand Bahama has presented challenges related to the collection and management of waste at the satellite clinics. As a result, many of the clinics still have a considerable volume of medical and solid waste onsite