Dominica + 15 more

Thematic report - 23 January 2018 - Dominica: Hurricane Irma and Maria Caribbean Response

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Key findings

  • UN agencies, NGOs, and government employees sharing the same workspace helped collaboration and information sharing.

  • Sector-specific and cross-sector coordination meetings allowed agencies and government actors to share information that reduced delays and increased collaboration between actors.

  • The lack of reliable baseline data greatly hampered efforts and delayed carrying out assessments and distributions properly during the response.

  • Better communication and collaboration between UN agencies, actors, and CDEMA was needed, to avoid considerable delays in assessments and overlap in activities.

  • Appropriate and context-specific communication mechanisms need to be tailored in order to ensure two-way communication with affected communities, taking vulnerable and at-risk communities in consideration.

  • Local technical staff were over stretched and exhausted. Agencies are encouraged to build up their technical surge capacity in preparation of an emergency.


Hurricane Irma first made landfall on the northeast Caribbean islands during the early hours local time of 6 September 2017. Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, Bahamas, British Virgin Islands, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Puerto Rico, St Barthélemy, St. Martin, Sint Maarten, Turks and Caicos, and the US Virgin Islands were all affected.

169,000 people and 75,000 buildings were exposed to wind speeds higher than 252km/h. 5.5 million people lived in areas exposed to winds in excess of 120km/h. At least 37 people have been reported dead.

A large part of the populations of Anguilla, Barbuda, British Virgin Islands, Sint Maarten and Turks and Caicos have been directly affected and will require extensive assessment and support in the coming months. Some islands have had close to 100% of their population displaced. There is significant damage to infrastructure, livelihoods, housing, communications, and essential services, including electricity.


A few days after Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Maria moved west-northwest over the Caribbean Sea, and picking up strength as it moved onwards. Its center passed south of St. Croix island (US Virgin Islands) early in the morning of 20 September 2017. It then continued moving towards Puerto Rico as a category 5 hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 270 km/h. MARIA is forecast to make landfall along Puerto Rico, near Yabucoa city at around 12 UTC on 20 September. Hundreds of people have been evacuated and hundreds of houses destroyed in Guadeloupe, Dominica and Martinique islands .


Dominica is the worst affected from Hurricane Maria. At least 14 people died in Dominica. At least 80% of the island’s population has been affected and needs support with shelter and water, according to CDEMA. Hurricane Maria is the strongest on record to strike Dominica and destroyed entire crops, disrupted power and water supplies. All the health centers in the island have been affected. Landslides blocked roadways making it difficult for aid workers to access affected people in remote corners of the island.