PAHO Hurricane Michelle situation report: Bahamas, Honduras, Nicaragua, Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Cuba

from Pan American Health Organization
Published on 08 Nov 2001

Hurricane Michelle, Bahamas
Ministry of Health Assessment Results Following Hurricane Michelle

The National Disaster Committee has been activated. Voluntary evacuation is taking place now in Abaco, and in high risk areas of other family islands and Nassau.

The Health Disaster Committee was activated at 1:00 p.m., a meeting was convened by the Minister of Health. The Health Command Center will be set at the Princess Margaret Hospital. The Public Health Department Command Canter will be set at the Ministry of Health.

All the departments have activated their hurricane plans (Public Hospital Authority -including the three Hospitals and the National Emergency Medical Services-, the Department of Public Health, and the Environmental Health Department. Health Disaster Response Teams are being established, and post disaster assessment forms and guidelines distributed.

Hurricane Michelle in Honduras, Nicaragua and Cayman Islands

Michelle has hit Honduras and Nicaragua the hardest, although reports of substantial health problems in Jamaica are beginning to come in. As of Friday evening, 2 November, Cuba is on the alert.

More than 27,300 people have been evacuated from flooded regions of Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. The storm could drop two to four inches of rain on Honduras and Nicaragua, causing potentially deadly flash floods and mudslides.

Michelle affected more than 20,000 persons in Honduras. Four people are confirmed dead, seven people are missing, and 4,070 have been evacuated. On 29 October, the Government declared the following five departments as emergency areas: Atlántida, Colón, Cortés, Santa Barbara and Yoro. The floods come in the wake of a prolonged drought that destroyed corn and bean crops in the south, center and west of the country, affecting some 800,000 Hondurans. Yoro has been affected the worst, presently there is no access by road, and the area faces the complications of a virtually non-existent supply of drinking water and no electricity. The Government allocated 1.5 million Honduras Lempiras (US$96,000) from the Emergency Fund for the purchase of food supplies and relief items for citizens affected in the north of the country.


Approximately 1,000 people have been affected by Michelle in Nicaragua. Four people are dead and twelve are missing. The Sistema Nacional para la Prevención, Mitigación y Atención de Desastres reported on 31 October that 3,500 pounds of food supplies have been distributed to Nicaraguans affected by Michelle. The most affected areas in the Región Autónoma del Atlántico Norte are: Sandy Bay Norte, Lidaukura, Raytl Pura, Ninayaris, Tasbaraya, Prahya and Tawasaky. It is feared that the transport of basic supplies from the interior of the country to the city of Puerto Cabezas might be cut off.

Cayman Islands

The Cayman Islands have been experiencing heavier than normal rainfall since Friday, October 27, and it is expected to continue. There is localized flooding in the western and southern part of the island. The National Hurricane Committee has been meeting in special sessions. Because 8-10 foot waves are expected, all boats have been moored in the north sound. The Medical Relief Committee in the Cayman Islands says the hospital plan has been activated and the hospital can be shuttered in 1-5 hours if need be. Public advisories have been issued and shelters will be opened if and as needed.


In Honduras, specifically, emergency needs in the health sector fall into several broad categories.

  • This includes activities related to food handling, including storage, distribution, processing, conservation and consumption.
  • Production and dissemination of educational public information on the safe handling of food and the prevention and management of diarrehal diseases.
  • Mental Health: Organization of disaster mental health support teams, in collaboration with the Division of Human Resources of the Ministry of Health.

Health Services
  • This includes activities related to the assessment of the physical and functional damage to and vulnerability of the health services network. Multidisciplinary teams will be formed (civil engineer, hospital equipment specialist, physician, nurse, driver)to evaluate the physical and functional state of health infrastructure in the most severely affected areas.
  • Coordination of communications networks among outlying health centers and of entities that supply medicines and other critical supplies.

  • Activities related to reducing violence among the affected population should begin several days after the most immediate emergency actions have been undertaken and should focus on preventing intra-family violence, particularly in shelters, where it commonly occurs in this type of crisis.

Disease Surveillance and Control

Torrential rains have flooded several municipalities in the north of Honduras. These are experiencing a decline in sanitary conditions which could lead to potential epidemics of diarrheal diseases, including cholera; vector borne diseases such as malaria and dengue; and certain zoonosis such as leptospirosis. Some of these were already present prior to the flooding in these areas which were already considered at high risk for communicable diseases. Activities will include:

  • Strengthening the national epidemiological surveillance system to detect and respond to outbreaks.
  • Daily analysis of the epidemiological situation in the affected areas.
  • Providing surveillance in shelters and other high-risk areas to prevent and control health risks.

Water and Sanitation

To prevent and control environmental risks that impact health, activities will focus on:

  • Diagnosis of the situation and establishing work priorities
  • Immediate response with water tank trucks, chlorine, latrines, and support for the proper management of solid waster and other sanitary needs.
  • Technical support in shelters
  • Technical support to information and education campaigns and the promotion of hygiene measures as the situation warrants.

Hurricane Michelle, Jamaica

Health Sector Needs Assessment Tropical Depression #15 - Floods

Water Quality
a. Thirty (30) Water Quality kits HACH Test Kits 17N pH 4.0 - 10.00 Model No. 1470 / 11 @J$3,600.00
b. Thirty (30) Patho Screen Kits - PLW 100 mis Model No. 2610-96 @J$2,300.00 Sub-total
J$ 69,000.00
Waste Water
- Two (200) latrines (75% - Portland, 20% St. Mary, 5% St. Ann and Trelawny)
- 100 standard latrines @J$35,000.00
- 50 sealed double vault kit latrines @J$100,000.00
- 50 latrines and shower @J$135,000.00

J$ 5,000,000.00
J$ 6,750,000.00
Vector Control (Mosquitoes) Programme for one (1) month
- Source reduction and Larvicidal work - oil, etc.
- Twelve (12) fogging machines @ J$60,000.00
- Protective equipment e.g. heavy duty gloves, etc.
- Malathion (technical grade) 20 drums @ J$70,000.00
- 50 x 25kg bags A-bate
- Sub-total

J$ 100,000.00
J$ 720,000,00
J$ 130,000.00
J$ 1,400,000.00
J$ 390,000.00
J$ 2,740,000.00
Public Education Programme
- Making Water Safe
- General Environmental Health
- Waste Disposal/Vector Control

J$ 400,000.00

Hurricane Michelle, Cuba


Hurricane Michelle made landfall in Cuba between 4-5 November 2001. It was a category 4 hurricane on the scale Saffir-Simpson, with high potential destructive power. It was the strongest hurricane to hit Cuba in the last 50 years.

With a trajectory to the east of the Island of Youth, Michelle struck Cuba along the southern coast of Matanzas province, at 4pm, on November 4, 2001 with sustained winds of more than 210 km/h. It continued its course to the northeast at a rate of 30 km/h, with sustained winds of 175 km/h. Rains were locally intense (more than 100 mm in 24 hours) and caused substantial flooding in the low coastal areas, as well as along the northern coast of Havana.

Early in the morning of November 5, Michelle began to move away from the country. At 8.00am the Recovery Phase was declared from the provinces of Pinar del Río to Camagüey, including the Municipio Especial Isla de la Juventud. The hurricane alert was suspended for the provinces of Las Tunas, Holguín and Granma.


481,324 people were evacuated of 440,195 first planned. 270,000 people were re-located to shelters and received required care, food and health.

For 24 hours, information was broadcast to the public via television, in addition ongoing radio coverage.


Affected provinces

The greatest damage was reported in the provinces of Matanzas, Cienfuegos, Villa Clara, Sancti Spiritus and in the Municipio Especial Isla de la Juventud. The city of Havana and Ciego de Avila were also affected. In these last two, winds were clocked at up to 120km/h, equivalent to a hurricane category 1.

Principal damage

Five deaths and 12 injured were reported.

The housing, agriculture and communications sectors suffered the greatest damage. Damage to 1550 dwellings in City of Havana, 538 on Isla de la Juventud, and 63 in the province of Havana were reported. Other installations and social and economic infrastructures have been destroyed or partially damaged including hospitals, schools, industry and livestock installations.

In the agriculture sector, the banana crop was particularly hard hit. The Island of la Juventud reports 20,000 tons of citrus destroyed. There were major communications failures and electric power was interrupted primarily in the provinces of Matanzas, Cienfuegos, Villa Clara, and Sancti Spíritus.

At present several provincial commissions are evaluating the harm and needs.