"So far, the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season has been very active," said Jed Hoffman, CRS Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean. "Emily and Dennis have been particularly damaging to México, Grenada, Jamaica, Cuba and Haití, but CRS has been on hand working with our local partners to assess the damage and distribute emergency relief materials."
Hurricane Emily began July 10 as a tropical depression far out in the Atlantic Ocean. By Thursday, when it crossed into the Caribbean, the storm was a full-fledged hurricane, blamed for one death in Grenada. As it moved west, Emily picked up strength dramatically. At least two people were killed in Jamaica as the storm passed by the island to the south.
Residents of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula cleaned up downed trees and other debris Monday after they were pelted overnight by Emily's fury. Early Monday, the hurricane blasted ashore in the beach resort areas of Quintana Roo state with 135 mph winds, then weakened considerably as it moved across the Yucatan Peninsula and into the Gulf of México. Fisheries and farms were destroyed and thousands of power lines damaged. Local newspapers are reporting three deaths and 7,000 homes either damaged or destroyed. CRS will be working closely with its local partner, Caritas Mexicana, in the post-hurricane rehabilitation and reconstruction phase.
In Grenada, the government has declared a state of emergency. CRS has committed $75,000 in initial funds to assist with immediate needs in Grenada, and CRS relief workers are on the ground supporting the Diocese of St. George's and Grenada in assessing the damage. The agency's response will focus primarily on the rehabilitation and hurricane proofing of homes, in addition to preparedness and mitigation planning. The struggle to recover from last year's Hurricane Ivan has prevented Grenada from thoroughly preparing for this year's hurricane season. Due to shortages in construction supplies, many islanders have not been able to fully rebuild their homes, and many children still attend school under makeshift tarps.
In Cuba and Haiti, CRS relief workers continue to respond to the aftermath of Hurricane Dennis. The storm killed 16 people in Cuba and 43 people in Haiti. In Cuba, the Civil Defense reports that 15,000 homes were destroyed, 120,000 homes were severely damaged, and there is more than $1.4 billion in damage to the citrus, corn and rice crops. CRS has sent financial aid to its local partner, Caritas Cubana, for the relief efforts. In addition, CRS and Caritas Cubana, in consultation with the Cuban authorities, will be prioritizing multiple shipments of food relief supplies to Cuba in the coming days.
In Haiti, 43 deaths have been confirmed, 2,826 houses were damaged, and approximately 755 houses were destroyed. In coordination with Caritas Haiti, and other governmental and non-governmental organizations, food, non-food items and water have been provided to hundreds of families, water systems are being repaired, and homes and agricultural areas are being rehabilitated.